Creatives in Conversation: Jen Knoch
MSP Home & Design / July 18, 2023 / A self-described creative conductor and former freelance project manager, Jen Knoch recently celebrated the first anniversary of her shop, Senti, a boutique featuring sensory products to elevate everyday life.
Tucked down a discreet cobblestone alley off Edina’s Nolan Mains at 50th & France sits a jewel box of a store, Senti, named for the imperative form of the French verb meaning “to feel.” We popped inside to meet up with its founder and shopkeeper, Jen Knoch, to talk about her trips to France and Spain and to learn about the world of distinct objects Knoch curates.
The location is so charming. It feels like you’ve stumbled upon a side street in Europe. Have you always wanted to run your own brick-and-mortar shop?
I had been doing pop-ups around the Cities with one of my fragrance lines, and my last pop-up was at Flirt Boutique nearby, and the developer, who had met me there, liked the concept of fine fragrances and approached me about space. I hadn’t thought of having my own space before, but once Pete, the developer, approached me, I was like, OK, let’s take this seriously! I love the location and I love this alleyway, so it made so much sense. I worked with Bodega, who did my branding and who I had worked for as a project manager with my background in marketing, so that felt like a natural partnership.
How do you go about curating and sourcing all your products?
With the original fragrance line, I had traveled to Grasse, France, in 2018 and connected with a perfumer [Jessica Buchanan, founder of 1000 Flowers, based in Grasse, and that really kind of started it and gave me some confidence in my passion for fragrance. And Jessica saw that and entrusted me with bringing her line here to Minneapolis. With that experience under my belt for a couple years, approaching other fragrance brands gave me some leverage. Each January, I close the shop for 10 days and travel to Europe. My approach is always exclusive—it’s very niche and small. I’m bringing the Twin Cities access to really artisanal brands that they won’t find anywhere else. So everything here I am sourcing from France, primarily, or Europe.
At little more than 300 square feet, your shop is chock-full of so much more than just fragrances. What’s the range of items people could expect to find, particularly for the home?
Since opening in February 2022, Senti has rotated in approximately 200 different brands and lines of products, mainly from Europe. Items I tend to encourage for home are those that add an elevated layer to the everyday—a utensil rest or Italian plate to hold that morning coffee spoon, a linen napkin to replace the paper, a candle plate or dish to hold candle tools as a reminder of their purpose. Even placing matchsticks in a beautiful porcelain coffee cup made in Turkey, hanging a mini masterpiece on your kitchen backsplash, or lighting a rainbow of colored tapers on a Tuesday night just because is all part of the sensory experience.
There is a distinct charm to the home décor you carry in your shop. Tell us a bit about how you decided on the aesthetic for the interior.
I didn’t plan to have as much vintage in the shop as I do today, but it resonates so well with the Senti shopper that it will be a mainstay. Also, there’s nothing like the character, texture, and life vintage pieces add to any space. And selfishly, I love the hunt of finding these gems, seeing the joy and spurred memories they bring, and knowing the new life the shopper will give them.
Can you offer some tips for how readers can create a “mood” at home, like candlelight or a scented candle or spray fragrance? What fragrances would you recommend for starting the day but also closing the day at home?
Fragrances are so personal, and the mood we’re seeking at different times of our day is just as personal. Some Senti shoppers find the slim, natural scented beeswax candles that burn just about an hour act as their “clock” to guide their morning meditation or family quiet time after dinner. For those seeking a scent mood ritual to start, end, or carry through their midday, it’s all about experimenting with what fragrances fit your mood. Senti carries different options for both candles that burn and scents that are sprays for those who can’t have or don’t want a burning scented option in their home. Senti also carries five room aroma sprays by Lula Curioca Olfactory Studio out of Mexico City—great to spray on bedding, sofa linens, pillows, and draperies.
Creatives in Conversation: Jen Knoch
A self-described creative conductor and former freelance project manager, Jen Knoch recently celebrated the first anniversary of her shop, Senti, a boutique featuring sensory products to elevate everyday life.
Tucked down a discreet cobblestone alley off Edina’s Nolan Mains at 50th & France sits a jewel box of a store, Senti, named for the imperative form of the French verb meaning “to feel.”
Featured Brand: 1000FlowersI first met Perfumer, Jessica Buchanan, of @1000flowersperfumer outside her atelier/boutique in Old Town Grasse, in 2018. This was my first trip to Grasse and meeting Jessica was my “wish fulfilled” moment. She is a Grasse-trained perfumer, 10+yr resident and veteran in the world of essential oils, natural skincare and fragrance. Her fragrance line was broad and beautiful, her philosophy grounded in deep appreciation and respect for the natural world from the fragrance ingredients to the paper packaging.
New & Noteworthy ShopsNew to the Nolan Mains scene is Senti, the brainchild of Jen Knoch, creator of From Grasse with Love (FGWL), a line of luxe fragrances, candles, and skin care products from the perfume capital of the world—Grasse, France.