Scent Survey: Jane Matthews of Swensk

Co-founder, Swensk Slow Fashion (Melbourne)

Jane Matthews is one half of the team behind Swensk, which she founded with her partner, Mats Ekström. Swensk offers a carefully curated selection of Sweden fashion labels for men and women, including the likes of Filippa K, BLK DNM and J. Lindeberg. The shop space epitomizes Jane and Mats’ creativity and dedication to classic, conscious design that’s sustainable and made to last over time.

What did your childhood smell like?

I grew up in Brisbane were the nights can be really cool compared to the heat of the daytime. In the evenings we would sit out on the back patio and have dinner and mum had a jasmine growing on the latticework. At nighttime the scent of the jasmine would softly waft around us.

When I got a bit older I would run in the evening after school and university and there was a 100 meter patch of fence along the golf course that I would pass – that scent meant I was soon home (or just starting, depending which way I ran the circuit around our neighbourhood).

What scent has the power to stop you in your tracks and immediately transport you to a memory/moment/feeling?

What does/did your grandmother/mother/father smell like?

Mother – the Elizabeth Arden counter in any department store. She wore the perfume Red Door for most of our childhood. I can still picture the bottle in the bathroom cabinet.

Grandmother (on my mum’s side) – the smell of red dry dirt just as it starts to rain. She lived in West Queensland and it was so dry on their property. When ever I smell rain on dry earth I think of her.

Dad – grease and paint. On the weekends he was always fixing something but always leaving the remains of his work in our patio area so we would live around it until he worked on it again the next weekend.

What does your kitchen smell like?
At the moment it is thyme. My husband is on a diet and he is buying different herbs each week to try to spice up the flavours of all the vegetables he is eating. He buys the herbs but as he does not know how to use them they end up dying before we get to use them. But the thyme has dried really nicely on the bench so it setting the scent right now as every time I knock it or pick it up it has such a nice soft aroma.

What does happy smell like?
A good red wine and peonies.

What does your favourite place in the world smell like?
Birch and pine trees. My favourite place in the world is Mats’ family cabin in the middle of Sweden. It is a little red wood house on the top of a hill that is surrounded by trees. It over looks the small village at the bottom of the hill and a lake. It is the place I visualize when I need to relax or help to sleep. It really works. I’m asleep in minutes!

What is your least favourite smell?
Off milk.

What does love smell like?
My son’s hair and skin. I could nuzzle my nose in it all day. It is the best when he comes into bed in the morning and snuggles into me and we cuddle for half an hour before we start our day. It is the best part of my day as it is the only time he is still and does not want to run after a ball!