Talkin' Bison with Josh Smith of Libertine Fragrance

We here at the Royal Bison always love to hear stories of what it's like to be a maker/artist/designer in Edmonton. For the Spring 2017 Bison, guest writer Lindsay Jones brings us in depth interviews with some of our long-term vendors.

Joshua Smith is the scent wizard behind Edmonton’s small batch unisex perfume house: Libertine Fragrance. As a student of design studying at The University of Alberta, Josh dabbled in a variety of creative mediums; perfume was the one that stuck. He was drawn to the creativity perfumery required, and in awe of the unique storytelling capacity that scent has.

Read on to learn more about why this Royal Bison vendor’s favourite part of perfumery is the invisibility it has in a design world which is typically filled with tangibles…

What do you do and why do you love it?

JS: I make perfume. It kind of started by accident; or at least not with the intent of turning it into a business. I didn’t even own any perfume or cologne of my own when I started experimenting with the medium. I got into it mostly as a way of ignoring other design projects that I was supposed to be doing [laughs]. I enjoyed it and continue to enjoy it because it allows me to have an artistic output in a uniquely invisible way. So much of what you do in design is visible, and tangible, but scent is neither.

Your products are all Edmonton-made. What does being an Edmonton-maker mean to you?

JS: I guess to me it is this juxtaposition between a beautiful and wonderful maker’s community that knows each other and works together, and those who don’t know we exist at all. Edmonton’s creative community needs to continue finding interesting ways to capture the attention of the rest of the population, both in Edmonton and the rest of Canada.

Proudest moment?

JS: I would say working on a project with some of my design-heroes. There is a furniture design company in New York called Material Lust that reached out to me to do a custom scent for them. It was super exciting, because they were a huge inspiration to me while I was in school. I was also lucky enough to have my perfume line reviewed by Luca Turin. He is a scientist based in scent who has written a few perfume review books. He was reviewing some niche perfume lines, and Libertine was one of them; he gave us a really positive review and that was extremely flattering – it made me feel like I must be doing something right [laughs].

We’re looking into the future – where do you see Libertine?

JS: Ideally, I would like to see Libertine become this weird and awesome niche thing that allows me to make perfume all day. The dream would be a studio space in New York.

Complete this sentence: To me The Royal Bison is __________.

JS: Edmonton.

Royal Bison has been one of the only reasons I have been able to continue doing what I do. It is a market that genuinely feels like it exists exclusively to support the makers versus existing to make money off of them. The people that come through the market, the vendors that participate in the market, and the people that organize the market represent the most refreshing and beautiful part of our city. It is the Edmonton that I want to be part of.

Joshua Smith is a multi-talented designer and entrepreneur residing in Edmonton, Alberta. Interested in shopping the Libertine Fragrance line? Head over to the online shop, check out one of Libertine’s many stockists, and be sure to look for Libertine at The Royal Bison May 5 – 7, 2017.


Lindsay Jones is one half of Rosa & Lilium Apothecary, and the writer of their excellent #getREAL blog: Q's and A's from phenomenal women who aren't afraid to get real. The Royal Bison is super jazzed to have Lindsay as our guest writer for the Spring 2017 event.