Meet Janna Sheehan –– Scent Alchemist

The last time I was in Ojai I discovered a shop called deKor&Co. and there found an Eau de Cologne brand called OJAI WILD that I fell in love with. Their packaging is of course divine, with it’s wooden cap and beautiful frosted glass bottle… But most impressive was how the scents literally pulled me into the poetry of each plant orflower. I was transported into the understanding of a wondrous plant kingdom and I felt connected to the earth in a renewed way and enlivened by each scent in a different way. I’ve been using White Sage Leaves for about a month now and it’s become a favorite ritual of mine. I keep the bottle close at hand in my office whenever I need a little boost of energy and inspiration.

Enjoy this interview with the OJAI WILD founder Janna Sheehan!

What is your day-to-day like?

Most days, I wake before the sun. My day is earmarked by rituals. I’m very completion oriented so I’m driven by productivity. I hit the kitchen barefoot, turn on NPR, and get the kettle started for my morning bulletproof coffee, which fuels the rest of the busy day.

After coffee, I take my dog for a walk then head to the studio. Upon opening the door, the first thing I do is light my frankincense to set the mood. Frankincense because it helps me connect with my innocence, and work flows more easily from there. It’s a psychic prayer before I begin the day.

The time spent in the studio varies anywhere from 2 to 12 hrs, depending on the needs –– meeting the flow of weekly events — wearing the hats of many.

Can you tell us a little bit about your scent philosophy?

My philosophy is that all scent––natural, organic and synthetic is interesting and tells a story. All fragrance elements are important references for mood and memory and should be considered part of a fragrance vocabulary. Honing one’s scent vocabulary allows the wearer to articulate, then understand fragrance more thoroughly and consequently, their own subconscious emotions.

How do you begin the process of creating a unique scent? Walk us through your journey…

Before the creative act of constructing the final fragrance there’s a long process of research and development that goes into finding the right plant species and parts to work with. For example, we have extracted many varieties of roses. In the end we now know that the Hybrid Tea species, Memorial Day rose, will give us the most unique, beautiful, modern fragrance. This is the case with many of the herbs we use, including our Juniper Berry, which is part of our original collection.

Once the herb has been qualified the extraction process begins. After about 30 days, decanting and filtering happen. Then begins a new stage of creative final formulation where inspiration is drawn from other elements: texture, composition, proportion and formal elements come into play.

How does living in Ojai inform what you do?

Because Ojai is a small town and geographically set in a valley, there is a force to be self-reflective, which ultimately imposes a kind of spiritual freedom.

Do you have a routine or lifestyle tip you love to share?

I like to get as much done as possible so rituals are important for me. I’m excellent at multi-tasking and very focused on completion. Given this, it’s easy to neglect what most people refer to as: “self-care”. So, I take as much time as I need to be quiet, walk and sit with even 10 minutes of Yin Yoga. I show up very present but make time for whatever I like: massage, facials, baths, vacation, cooking meals with friends.

How and where do you produce your essences and where can we find them?

Our fragrances are hand-made straight from the plant. – All California botanicals, harvested from our farm in Ojai or different ranches up and down the coast. All our alchemical formulations are produced at our lab, located at the Camarillo airport.

Our colognes are made using a 17th century alchemical distillation method called tincturing. In this process the plants are crushed, pressed and soaked to elicit their most authentic, unadulterated essence. Since there is no heat in this extraction process you get as close to the scent of the live plant as possible. After that, the process is creative – adding other notes from resins, woods and essential oils to give each fragrance a unique, sophisticated presence. Many of the added raw materials I compound from scratch in the studio. For example, I compound our frankincense from the resin instead of using a frankincense essential oil distillation. It smells amazing. It’s very important to me that the cologne maintains its integrity. Translucency and proportion of the additional elements are important in dictating the outcome.

Our products are available on our website: www.ojaiwild.com
In Los Angeles: Ron Robinson on Melrose and in Santa Monica
In New York: ABC Home and Shen Beauty

Can you share with ussome of your favorite herbs and flowers and why you use them?

Chamomile is a favorite and our next release so I’ve been very intimate with it lately. Tending the flowerbed requires much attention to detail. There is frequent and intricate weeding needed to maintain the beds. Harvesting the tiny flowers is time-consuming. It takes thousands of flower heads to make just a half-gallon of Chamomile extract.

It’s also such a calming experience to work with Chamomile. The medicinal plant properties are well known for soothing intestinal upset, anxiety, insomnia and skin irritations. Whenever I bring my dog to the farm she lays down right in the chamomile bed!

When do you feel you are the truest version of yourself?

When I’m laying on the beach in Hawaii.

What is your definition of beauty?

The feeling that nothing else is necessary other than what we already possess to be happy.

What is something you are deliberate about?

My diet, health and well-being.

What woman epitomizes beauty and grace for you?

Patti Smith, Cleopatra

Do you have any go-to foods, scents or herbs you take regularly?

Scent: I love the sexy smell of dried sweat and body oils on my boyfriends body, after a long hike.
Herbs/supplements: Krill oil, a probiotic, vitamin b, collagen protein.

Any beauty-hacks you would like to share with us?

THE POWER OF THREE: Stay out of the sun. Keep hydrated. Get enough sleep.

Favorite things to do/experience in Ojai:

Walking my dogs on trails, meeting up with friends for coffee, grabbing some organic food at one of the many co-ops, whiling time away at our farm.

Beauty paradigms to unhook:

Let’s talk about natural fragrance and how important it is to have a model of language that’s consistent for the consumer. The fragrance industry isn’t regulated and therefore companies take advantage of using words like ‘natural’ loosely. Ingredients aren’t required to be disclosed therefore the customer is confused. Let’s be clear.

Natural means no synthetics. Natural means the fragrance is made with botanical derivatives — not synthetic aroma chemicals. It’s the difference between plastic and glass and should be noted for the consumer by the fragrance houses and critics.

There’s nothing wrong with aroma chemicals — they shouldn’t be demonized. They are most interesting, fascinating and give one a limitless palette to work with. Let’s call them what they are: synthetic. Natural botanical essences are just different and should be noted as such.

Most people are so unaware of what goes into the perfumes they wear, but so long as the scent pleases them, they are willing to buy anything.

Gender specific scent is another notion that I’d like to see demystified. Can’t the consumer decide what is simply appealing to them irrespective of their gender?

What does your skin routine look like?

Keep it clean, moisturized and out of the sun. I wear very little make up.

Favorite morning ritual: making my special coffee

Favorite bedtime ritual: tea and a bath

Very favorite beauty product: I’ve used the same Rene Guinot skin care products my entire life. When I’m treating myself the Retrouve skin care line is amazing.

Favorite hair care tip: regular trims and don’t use heat: Consume collagen protein. You will have thick healthy hair for life.