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
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