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Reviving an Iconic Fragrance Brand

kraemers blocki
Tammy and Tyler Kraemer revitalized the Blocki Perfume brand.

Fall 2018

When Tyler Kraemer ’93, ’97 JD and Tammy Henley Kraemer ’97 JD met as students at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law, fragrance wasn’t the first thing on their minds. But in 2015, after balancing legal work and a successful essential oil wholesale operation, the couple decided to embrace their passion for perfume. Together they revived Blocki Perfume, a company started by Tyler’s great-great-grandfather, John Blocki, 150 years earlier. A chemist by trade, Blocki became an early player in America’s budding perfume industry, and his company’s grand boutique on Michigan Avenue became a retail attraction.

While Blocki Perfume hasn’t returned to its former space, its long history continues to guide the company’s work today. For example, a family memoir published in 1872 influenced the first set of fragrances launched by the Kraemers, and a newer offering, Sanrovia, is a modern reimagining of a 1911 perfume created by Blocki after his visit to the Italian coast.

“Perfume is about joie de vivre and telling stories,” says Tyler, who studied chemistry, physics and materials science as an undergrad. “We are inspired by the past, not copying it.”

Blocki remains committed to its early values, including sustainable sourcing, promoting conservation and using only the highest quality natural materials, Tyler says. That means creating scents is a longer, more delicate process, but Tyler says he relishes the freedom — and the opportunity — to transport people to another place or time through fragrance.

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THE CHOW BROTHERS Mark and Chris Chowaneic ’00 want to make pierogi the next fast-casual craze. After five years as private chefs, their food brand, the Chow Brothers, has a home at the Wells Street Market, a new food hall on Chicago’s riverfront. Inspired by their Polish roots and Chicago upbringing, they hope to reimagine all manner of Central European classics for an on-the-go audience.

CUE AUDIO While working for a minor league hockey team, Jameson Rader ’15 developed an idea to create dazzling light shows crowdsourced from fans’ smartphones. His company, CUE Audio, uses sound technology to create flashy lighting displays and is backed by Glenn Picquet, owner of the Texas Rangers. In July, Rader formed a partnership with Daktronics that will bring the technology to more than 20,000 venues.

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