Flying Under the Radar: Trance Essence
A Beauty News Exclusive Interview with Niche Perfumer Janna Sheehan


Long a supporter of niche brands, I was thrilled to sit down with Trance Essence perfumer Janna Sheehan recently at Madeleine Patisserie on West 23rd Street. Over lattes and superbly delicious macaron’s, Janna went into delightful detail on her life as an painter, Hollywood set designer and mother and of course, the Trance Essence line, a collection of six unique fragrances, available in eau de parfums, perfume oils and candles.

BN: You’ve worked in the arts for the majority of your life…what inspired you to start a fragrance line? Do you feel it was a natural transition?

JS: Totally natural, I have always had a strong sense of smell and an openness to try new forms of creativity.

Perfumery was an exciting new technology for my expression. I enjoy the process and at that point in my life, olfactory art seemed to unify with the practice of everyday life. I found that I could translate with scent that which was in my soul or mind, with more grace; the poetry, emotion, thoughts and memory. A vision would inspire a thought or vise versa. A glimpse of the night sky would translate in scent like a velvet sky full of starry galaxies.

BN: Tell us about living in Ojai,CA and how that affects your work as an artist and perfumer.

JS: I am in love; Ojai is magic. I moved here with my two young sons eight years ago seeking a pause from the relentlessness of urban life. Unsatisfied and feeling limited with my creative and personal growth, I needed a change of atmosphere. The LA madness was interesting and satisfying on some levels but artificial on many others. My inherent love of nature was instantly seduced by the Ojai landscape and my curiosity peaked by the mysticism of this sublime valley.

Clarity followed. I had no idea that the landscape where I live would play such an important role in my growth as an artist. Ojai offers an openness that supports creativity and transformation. It cradled me in the free fall that often comes with life change. That freedom inspired me to delve into a new art form and create my Trance Essence perfumes. The mystical and wondrous beauty here is a constant source of creative inspiration. READ MORE

BN: What differentiates Trance Essence from other fragrance lines on the market?

JS: My design of the combination of essential and perfume oils give Trance Essence a cleaner more natural smell than most commercial fragrances. They were designed to enhance the wearers own body scent as opposed to the perfume dictating the body scent, which commercial fragrances tend to do. And, unlike a completely natural perfume, they have a depth and complexity that you don’t get with perfumes that use exclusively essential oils.

BN: The eye iconography used on Trance Essence boxes is quite striking. What’s the inspiration?

JS: Plants give us such abundant beauty! I wanted to pay homage to their giving souls by using the eye (a window to the soul) as a symbolic visual metaphor.

BN: Is there a particular woman that you feel Trance Essence scents really resonate with?

JS: Anyone that is adventuresome or loves something pure and natural.

BN: Which is your personal favorite of the Trance Essence fragrances? Do you prefer wearing the oils or the eau de parfums? Why?

JS: Abbey Rose is my personal favorite; I suppose it appeals to my counterculture spirit. The EDP’s are my preference. With the spray I can get the “big perfume” smell, probably a reaction to all the years of commercial perfume deprivation. I couldn’t wear them as they were too overpowering and gave me a headache.

Editor’s note: Abbey Rose, an artful blend of fig, rose, bergamot, lavender, neroli and grapefruit, is for the modern bohemian. My personal favorite is Pink Kat, an innocent yet seductive blend of gardenia, rose, wild ylang ylang and neroli. And I’m in good company; Pamela Anderson, Kate Hudson and Laura Dern also love it. Try the Exquisite Nectar Collection, which includes vials of all six perfume oils, to find your favorite.

BN: What’s next for Trance Essence? Can you give us a sneak preview of what your next launch may be?

JS: Something gender free and perhaps only with the naturals. It’s impossible to predict but I do have a story in my head. We will see how the world changes and where the story goes.

Trance Essence fragrances are available in several California specialty stores including Fred Segal and Planet Blue. To shop online, visit

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