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.