One of our favorite places on this beautiful planet is Ojai, an artistic enclave a couple of hours north of Los Angeles, it’s known for it’s rolling orchards, art galleries and one of the best farmer’s markets we’ve ever visited. It’s also home to Janna Sheehan, a perfumer who is inspired by the best of nature, especially the native oak trees, wildflowers and citrus fruits of her local town. Years ago, when the Johnny Was Talia fragrance was just a creative thought, it was Sheehan who helped turn our vision into a gorgeous scent that’s a mix of jasmine, sweet orange, and musk. She’s also the genius behind the Ojai Wild line, a collection of four California-inspired Eau de colognes, which you can find in our stores now. Life is sweet and so is she. Here, we picked her mind on scent making and how to find your own inspired perfume.
JW: How did you first get started as a perfumer?
JS: Years ago, I met an Ojai woman who was a perfumer. During our conversation, I told her how much I’d love to learn to design fragrance. She went home that night, blended me a custom perfume and brought it to my house the next day. For the next two years, she and I worked together, creating hundreds of fragrances in my living room. I learned how to blend with aroma chemicals, essential oils, and many other fragrant raw materials. This definitely isn’t the most conventional education in fragrance but it was so creative and free.
JW: Tell us about creating our Talia fragrance?
JS: It actually happened smoothly and quickly and came out exactly how I’d first imagined it.
Catherine Nation (JW EVP of Retail) and I had been friends for years, so when she came to me with the fragrance project it just flowed. We have a similar ‘style’ vocabulary and sensibility. The project came together organically. She gave me input and direction and tested the samples with the JW team. The name, Talia, was derived from JW founder, Eli Levite’s daughter.
A little salty, sweet and sensual –– just like the bohemian lifestyle that Johnny Was embraces. This was the backdrop of my inspiration for Talia.
JS: Fragrance translates differently in each medium. There are fragrance notes that can be highlighted by the raw material ingredients in a soap or candle, such as soy, cocoa butter or shea butter which brings out buttery smelling notes in the soap. We worked to highlight all the best qualities of Talia in each form.
JW: Tell us about your own fragrance collection, Ojai Wild?
JS: Ojai Wild is the result of an invitation to create a fragrance that embodied the essence of the Ojai Valley for an Ojai Porch Gallery art exhibit. The brand was about three years in the making. Sourcing botanicals, making extracts and formulating the colognes was a labor of love and took some time to understand. Now, I have a library of about 40-50 botanical, resin and wood extracts and an array of products we use them in. The packaging is also unique, the wooden caps are the meticulous work of Cole Bennet and Rob B. of Thirdkind Studio in Brooklyn, NY.
JW: How would someone blend their own fragrance?
JS: The world of fragrance is going through a very transformative time. There is such a big artisan movement going on –– anyone can find fragrance classes or teachers across the US. As far as wearing fragrance, wear what speaks to you the moment it touches your skin.
JW: Finally, what’s your favorite scent?
JS: I love every aroma known to mankind. My biggest inspiration is found in nature.
For more info on Ojai Wild and Janna follow her on Instagram @ojaiwild