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Panels & Speaking Events

Take me to Chicago!

I was recently honored to have been selected by the Chicago Women in Flavor & Fragrance Commerce (WFFC) and the Midwest Society of Cosmetic Chemists (SCC) to speak on the topic of “Creating Natural Experiences Through Fragrance” at an event in Chicago, IL.  Perfumer & Flavorist published some highlights from the event here.

Here is an excerpt from their article:

A “Sense” of History During her presentation, Sebastian played three iconic commercials from three iconic brands that aired in the ’70s and ’80s. During the commercials, attendees smelled three jars and tried to match the scent to the commercial. Scents included Finesse shampoo, Jean Nate by Revlon Body Splash and Charlie by Revlon perfume.

“As style changes so does fragrance,” she said. “In the 1980s, scents were bold, like Poison and Passion. In the 1990s, scents had clean lines and were sheer, like CK1.”

Now, as consumers demand sustainable, organic and natural products, new trends are forging forwards.

“During my 24 years as a perfumer, I estimated that I’ve personally written 30,000 formulas,” said Sebastian. “That’s a lot of blood, sweat and tears; however, what I’ve kept with me are the experiences and those tangible memories the consumers will have.”


It was a great night mingling with old friends and making new ones. The best part was seeing peoples reactions to the commercials.  You couldn’t help but feel inspired by the energy of these iconic images and jingles. Most people were able to easily match each ‘mystery’ scent to the commercial, which accomplished my goal of steering people away from thinking and instead to feeling a fragrance .

One of the best things about working in the fragrance industry for many years, I believe, is having the chance to influence and enhance the every day experience of so many people with scent.

Almost everyone call recall a ‘scent memory’ from their past.  For me, the smell of lilac instantly transports me to my grandmother’s house as a young girl. The scent of horses and bales of hay will forever take me to my childhood in Pittsburgh, growing up on a farm.  Today, the scent of wild jasmin and smoked wood reminds me of my home in Southern California.

Following are the commercials I played. As a teen I didn’t realize how fantastic they were and that the way fragrances were portrayed in coming years would change so drastically.

Jean Nate
Finesse (Do you recognize the actress in this one?)

When it’s all said and done and our perfume bottles are empty, the memories attached to the scent are what lives on.  Over the years I’ve always remained mindful of this when working with clients to develop a new ‘experience’.

September 15, 2017

Food, Wine and Fragrances in New York City

Thursday night was such an incredible evening! I’m so honored to have been selected by The American Society of Perfumers to be one of the three featured perfumers to create a custom fragrance for their annual food, wine and fragrance pairing event, An Evening of Pairings in New York City.

Here is an excerpt from my speech:

“I crafted an accord with cade, stemone, patchouli, and cedar. These notes can easily overpower a fragrance so I spent a good amount of time observing the interplay of these ingredients together first before decided how I would finish the fragrance. I purposely chose to forgo vanilla, since the sweet potatoes added sweetness. I also stayed away from fruity notes since the wine is full bodied and fruity as well. Most of all, I wanted the beauty of the meal to be revealed and enhanced by the scent.” – Sherri Sebastian

Little known fact about me... before I started down the career path of becoming a professional perfumer (quite some time ago) I apprenticed with a sixth-generation wine-maker in Germany.

November 12, 2016

Trend Tracking: Are Synthetics the New Naturals?

Thank you WWD for featuring my perspective in your article, Synthetics Are the New Naturals at Tranoi Parfums New York“.

Here are some of my favorite excerpts:

Perfumers and retailers agree that an advertised use of synthetic ingredients is a burgeoning trend in niche fragrance. This was the sentiment expressed by some of the perfumers and retail buyers at the Tranoï Parfums show in New York earlier this week. Speaking on a panel Monday, Eric Weiser, owner of Brooklyn-based niche fragrance boutique Twisted Lily, said that customers now are curious about the unknown, and attracted to products that are futuristic-seeming in their packaging and formulations, even if that means forgoing natural ingredients. “They are more fascinated with fragrances that surpass what you traditionally think of,” said Weiser. “What does a solar eclipse smell like?”

Read more…

September 20, 2016

Trend Tracking: What’s Next After Oud?

Back in New York City again for the Tranoi Show! It’s such an honor to be here alongside so many talented taste makers ✨ and to be one of the featured panelists to comment on the hot fragrance trend topic “what’s next after oud?”.

My longtime friend (and talented artist!) Rich Rickaby (pictured with me above) accompanied me to the show and recapped some of what I shared on the panel over on the Wallace Church & Co blog.

Here is an excerpt from his blog post:

TRANOÏ, which means “between us” in Italian, is an artistic platform that gathers and curates the very best of avant-garde and progressive designers as well as contemporary and leading brands, and puts them in the hands of the most influential players in the fashion industry. My companion for the show was friend and professional perfumer, Sherri Sebastian. Sherri was to participate in a panel discussion about trends on Saturday…

Overall, she thought the show was lovely, understated and elegant. There were highly curated collections of the hottest luxury must-haves. There were many heavy oud inspired notes – oud is the synthetic version of agarwood. Sherri spoke about how the trend will be towards more muted and resinous woody notes. Florals will become greener. The Rose trend will migrate towards violets and other vintage floral notes. The Trend panel agreed with her insights, adding that oud could become a new fragrance category.

For more of my thoughts from Tranoi via WWD, visit this post.

September 18, 2016