DUJOUR: How Janna Sheehan Creates Experiential Fragrances
Ojai Wild founder captures California in a bottle with all-natural ingredients
Written by James Manso
“What I’m doing requires a certain amount of restraint,” Janna Sheehan, the founder of Ojai Wild says. What Sheehan does is create fragrances from all-natural plant essences inspired by Ojai Valley, where she’s based. Her craft isn’t as simple as creating oil blends or picking botanical essences to include, which are generally locally sourced. Instead, it’s about discovering scents in nature that people want to wear, bringing complexity to those aromas, and making them unique enough to justify their constant wear. “The challenge is to give an ultimate construction and context to the actual raw essence,” she says. “Those natural fragrances are complex in and of themselves.”
Thus far, Ojai Wild’s four scents each reference distinct natural bouquets, such as Juniper Berry, White Sage Leaves, or Pink Peppercorn. Each eau de cologne is meant to evoke not only an experience in nature, but be an experience itself. They are encouraged to be reapplied mindfully and often. The scents serve their purpose best when spritzed on, as if somewhere between a perfume and aromatherapy. “When I’m at an event and I’ve got people trying them, the general feeling is surprise, a delighted surprise, because it does smell so fresh and alive,” Sheehan says.
The emotional stimulation of spraying on a fragrance and enjoying the experience of application is central to Sheehan’s knowing sense of what consumers want. In the age of information overload and mass production, why not hand-produce a fragrance that’s half-scent, half-experience? “The ephemerality and natural quality are really important for us to be able to convey a message to consumers of support, having that beautiful, ephemeral experience that you can apply these fragrances all day,” she says. Instead of walking into a perfume cloud in the morning only to have it wear off by post-work cocktails, why not add a spray every few hours? “It’s something that makes you feel good. It’s a joyful experience,” Sheehan adds.