Brand on the Rise: Smith & Chang

We first met Smith + Chang when Alex Chang dropped by the Story shop on 10th Ave to pitch their new line of home and bath products. Before that day, we never thought we’d use an expression like “rough-hewn” to describe a lip balm—let alone one we were genuinely fond of—but Smith + Chang’s naturally chunky formula, packed with natural ingredients like cocoa butter and sweet almond oil, changed all that. It’s the farmer’s market answer to the processed, artificially colored drugstore norm. Which turns out to be emblematic of the brand on the whole—its “department store” in Jersey City, packed with handmade vintage goods and home wares, revolutionizes the very definition of a department store. We were pleased to speak to Chang recently and learn about where he gets recharged and inspired, and why guys should get on board with bath salts stat.

BB Man: How do you see men’s appetite for grooming and home goods changing?

Story 1 Chang: Men have become more aware and in touch with the idea that what's good is good—it’s not feminine to put on moisturizer or light a scented candle. That’s a change that’s coming and has been coming for a while. We found that lots of the products geared toward men can be a little gimmicky. We think that what’s really appealing to them is packaging and formulas that are simple and elegant.

BB Man: What inspired you to make bath salts?

Chang: I love taking baths. I take baths all the time. You take them to relax your body and your mind. The salt is healthy for your skin and circulation. They add a little scent to your bath water, and elevate the whole experience. It's a little extra step you take—a small luxury that you afford yourself.

Story 2

BB Man: What was your inspiration for your store in New Jersey?

Chang: Our inspiration came from old general stores all over America. We were focusing on eco-friendly recyclables, repurposed furniture—vintage old Americana. We buy a lot of antique from upstate new york, Pennsylvania, and the Midwest. Meanwhile, we try to sell products that are made locally and responsibly produced, in Jersey City, Manhattan, and Brooklyn.

BB Man: Where do you go to recharge?

Chang: We have a house in the Catskills, an old farm on 75 acres of woods and clear fields. ‘Patria’ is the name of the region, and the reason why we called our line that. Being up there always makes me think about returning to a time when we weren't putting chemicals in anything.

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