Ourside Founder Keta Burke-Williams Loves Experimenting With Eclectic Scents

Keta Burkes-Williams, founder of Ourside

Ourside / Design by Tiana Crispino

Growing up in Dayton, Ohio, Keta Burke-Williams didn’t see many people that looked like her and felt like she didn’t fit in. At an early age, she turned to fragrances as a form of comfort. Burke-Williams says spritzing on her favorite perfumes allowed her to relive joyous memories like skating at the neighborhood rink or spending time with her mother.

Although she had a deeply rooted passion for fragrance, she initially decided to explore other career options. Burke-Williams worked in sales and analytics at Kraft Heinz and later handled marketing and business development for Carnival Cruise Line. In 2019, she decided to go back to school, enrolling at Harvard Business School. Her time at the Ivy League institution laid the foundation for her fragrance company, Ourside

The brand is inspired by Burke-Williams' affinity for scent and her sister, who could no longer wear most fragrances since they affected her asthma. Burke-Williams saw an opportunity to develop fragrances that were free of harmful, overpowering ingredients and celebrated diversity. While building Ourside, she received a grant from Harvard and participated in Ulta Beauty’s MUSE Accelerator Program in 2022. These opportunities helped her launch the brand this month, debuting with three signature scents. 

In celebration of Ourside's launch, we caught up with the New York-based founder to talk about her Fragrance Wardrobe. She shared the scents that bring back memories of her childhood and ones that help her relax after a long day. 

How would you describe your Fragrance Wardrobe throughout the years? 

My fragrance wardrobe is always evolving like I am. Fragrances are much more than perfumes for me. They are the culmination of all of my experiences. I’ve experimented with everything from Bath and Body Works scents to essential oils. Overall, my fragrance wardrobe includes scents that bring back good memories and are associated with my family. 

How would you describe your fragrance style? 

My style is eclectic and sensitive. I am constantly testing fragrances to see what is out there and learn more, but I’ve found that the fragrances I enjoy are limited in the market. I’ve come to embrace fragrances that are unisex and non-traditional. I appreciate scents that have some depth and can take me somewhere else when I close my eyes. 

What was the first fragrance you bought? 

I can’t remember the first fragrance I bought, but I remember the first fragrance I was given, the Electric Apple Fragrance Spray from Bath and Body Works. Growing up, I experimented with many different fragrances because many traditional ones gave me headaches. One that I purchased and enjoyed was the Kat Von D perfume from Sephora. 

What is your go-to WFH scent? 

My go-to scent is Moondust from my collection because it’s a combination of perfume and aromatherapy. I love that it’s uplifting and grounding at the same time. It’s also not overpowering, so I get a nice whiff of myself when I move around. 

Ourside fragrances


What fragrance brings you comfort?

The Nostalgia scent in my collection comforts me because it makes me feel wrapped by a warm blanket. The scent also reminds me of the stories my mom used to tell us growing up, and it’s especially comforting on gray and rainy days. 

What fragrance do you spritz on to bring back good memories?

I have a few of these. The first would be Gap Dream, which my mom used to wear at home. It’s different from the Gap Dream now, but that scent always reminds me of her. Another fragrance I would spritz on would be a combination of Daisy by Marc Jacobs and Chanel Number 5. I also love the Mandarin-scented lip balm I received at a gift exchange. I would love to bottle up that scent. It’s definitely going to be part of our products in the future. 

What scent makes you feel the most powerful?

My scent Dusk makes me think of the confidence I wish I could always exude.

What is your favorite candle right now? 

There are a lot of luxury brands that sell candles that I enjoy, but there’s one from Target that I enjoy and think it’s slept on. It’s the brown sugar chestnut scent—it warms up my entire apartment. It has a bit of sweetness to it without being overpowering. 

What do you smell if you want to unwind or destress?

I enjoy eucalyptus in the shower to destress. I also like putting rosemary oil in a diffuser, and I’m a big fan of burning palo santo sticks. The scent sets an entire mood for me. 

What scent would you associate with this time in your life?

During this phase of my life, I'm reminded of the smell of my neighborhood on a summer day because it’s my first time living in New York City. Another one is the smells of our manufacturers in the Bronx because they are constantly mixing good scents inside. You can smell them even before opening the door. 

Related Stories