Interview (+ GIVEAWAY) with Heather Sielaff, Founder of OLO Fragrance

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Photos courtesy of OLO website

OLO Fragrance is an Oregon-based fragrance line founded by Heather Sielaff. Long before the launch of the company, Sielaff studied varying forms of bodywork, including neuromuscular therapy, aromatherapy and Gyrotonic. Sielaff became more acquainted with various oils through her work and started making her own blends. This hobby would turn into her business — OLO Fragrance launched in 2009. Sleigh, a self-taught perfumer, has put hard work into her business. She still hand blends her perfumes, incorporating “fractionated coconut oil, essential oils, key accords and absolutes,” and sells them online and through stores around the country. All OLO perfumes are 85 percent (or more) natural, contain no aldehydes or alcohol, and are not tested on animals.

Below, read my interview with Sielaff and enter to win a 9 ML OLO perfume of your choice…

How did you come up with the name OLO? What does it mean to you and how
is it relative to what you offer?
The name OLO came to me in a dream. I had been trying to decide what to call the perfume line so I had been looking up the definitions of different words. I think this was just my mind playing with the word “olfactory.” It doesn’t really mean anything, I just had a very vivid image of the word in all caps when I woke up one morning.

I love the names of your fragrances, how do you come up with them?
All the names have come about in different ways. I don’t have a specific process for selecting the names, I just go with what feels right. Some are very literal descriptors, like “Cedar & Rose” or “Violet / Leather.” Other perfumes were actually named first. I was walking through Lone Fir Cemetery here in Portland and I came across a really old tombstone with the name “Erastus.” I was thinking about how that was such an old sounding name and wondering what kind of man Erastus was. I made a perfume based on the name and what I thought could be the personality of that man.

What people, places or things have you gathered the most inspiration from
in recent years?
I always gather inspiration from the Oregon coast. It’s the place I go to recharge and reevaluate myself. I also find inspiration from people that do what they love.

What is one fact about aromatherapy that you think all people should know?
Honestly, I use aromatherapy to create a mood for myself. I feel like through scent alone essential oils can take your mind to another place. I’m not the kind of person that believes essential oils are a cure all though, I don’t really think of them that way. I guess I would want people to know that they don’t cure cancer and they should probably go to a doctor!

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DARK WAVE: CARDAMOM – INDONESIAN VETIVERT – WOOD || “Dark Wave was originally created for a fall event kicking off the dreary rains set to inundate Portland for nine months. The scent is meant to envelop you, to protect you from the downpour.”

What is your most popular scent sold and why do you think people enjoy it
 so much?
Dark Wave” is definitely the most popular. It wears really well on both men and women. I aspire to make my fragrances unisex. I really dislike labeling scents as masculine or feminine. I think I just found a sweet spot with Dark Wave. It’s kind of sexy but comfortable too.

Aside from perfumes and the like, what are some of your favorite
day-to-day, ordinary smells?
Trees. Dirt. Baked sweets. Oolong tea. The air before it rains.

You’ve done a lot of neat things with OLO fragrance, including
collaborations on limited-edition products. If you could partner with any
other maker or brand, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
I have a few people I want to collaborate with, but it’s a secret. I’m trying to figure out how to make it happen and I don’t want to give my plan away.

Did you set any resolutions or goals for 2015 for OLO? If so, have you
achieved in any of them? What is one thing you’d like to accomplish before
the end of the year?
My main goal was to make a few 100 percent natural body products. We are finishing up the packaging, but they will be ready to release in a few weeks. The soaps are my favorite. I want to go on one uninterrupted vacation before the end of the year, even if it’s just for a few days. It’s hard for me to walk away from the business for more than a day, but I’m attempting to rectify that.

What is one of the greatest lessons you’ve learned, since being a
business owner, about who Heather Sielaff is? Do you have any words of
advice to people interested in starting their own business?
I don’t play well with others. I can’t have business partners. Not because I fight with them, but because I defer too much in order to avoid conflict. I know exactly what I want and I do much better when I have complete control over the direction of the business. I am also very impatient and would rather do things myself than teach other people how to do it. I’m a classic control freak. I’m consciously working on letting other people help me, but I know I need control of the vision behind OLO always and forever.

I think if you start your own business you have to learn to be honest with yourself about your strengths and weaknesses. You have to be able to admit to what you are not good at and seek help from people that can do certain aspects of your job better than you can. I’m working on it!

What are you favorite scents? Let’s talk in the comments and don’t forget to enter the giveaway for a chance to win the popular Dark Wave or another scent of your choice from the line…

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*Giveaway open to US and Canada residents. Winner will be contacted by email on Aug. 10. 

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  • Tina

    Definitely curious to try Dark Wave, love the concept

  • kara jean

    The smell of the earth just after it rains is my favorite smell ever, and did you know there is a word for it? Petrichor, it also happens to be my favorite word <3 keep up the lovely work! Vetiver is very calming for me, so happy it's in your sents.

  • Eileen Isagon Skyers

    Lightning Paw swoon ⁽⁽ૢ(⁎❝ົཽω❝ົཽ⁎)✧

  • moldub

    dark wave forever!

  • Megan Garrett

    If I won, I would get a bottle of either dark wave or lightning paw. I was serving a table and one of the guests had on dark wave and it smelled amazing and completely took me out of work mode every time I could smell it. She told me she wears lightning paw in the summer and dark wave in the winter. I immediately went and bought a sample of lightning paw the next day. I also love that the OLO logo looks like two eyes and a nose, and the lines around the logo look how I feel when I smell her perfumes–energized and alive! My favorite smell is the smell of the forest.

  • Christie Sentner

    I would love to win a little vial of Lightning Paw. It’s my favorite! Xo from New Orleans

  • Alex Schultz

    OLO is the only product I wear. I have four or five different scents I pick between depending on the weather and my mood. My favorite, beyond a doubt, is Black Lodge for Bridge & Burn, which I biked through the coldest day of the year in December for a couple years ago. Deliciously spicy lavender. Thank you Heather for sharing your passion.

  • michelle bailey

    Dark wave is my absolute fave! Scent is such a powerful force for me and these oils invoke something me, each individual and complex but so familiar and intimate. Such a talent. So thankful to have found OLO💗

  • Jess Goehner

    Dark Wave is my current favorite- but I only have sampled 4 so far and also loved Tenoversix (more samples to come!). Adore unisex smells especially smoky and spicy ones.

  • ykolova

    I love Victory Wolf and Dark Wave so much — I can’t wait until fall and the warm, intoxicating smells mixed with coffee and wet pavement and wet leaves, with a campfire burning.

  • Tracy

    Lightning Paw – hands down get stopped and asked what my fragrance is most often when I’m wearing that one.

  • Abby

    I have a lovely story to share. I’ve never purchased an Olo fragrance for myself although whenever I stumble upon a bottle at any little shop here in Portland, I always swoon and can not stop sniffing myself after trying some on. But last week while I took a cab to a lecture at the art museum the cab driver mentioned how wonderful I smelt and when I told him it was just a mess of essential oils suggested I visit the Olo storefront because he thought it’d be “right up my alley”. I’ve been thinking about treating myself ever since…..

  • Cortney Herrera

    my favorite scent memory is being in elementary school in the midwest and tapping maple trees in the middle of heavy damp forests. The smell of the sweet water dripping out of the tree trunk with hints of dirt, dew, and crunchy leaves, and then getting to watch the maple water boil down into syrup for hours until you smelled the caramel-y maple scent in the classroom was the best thing I’ve ever smelled. I’ve never owned an Olo frangrance but I’ve dreamed of using Tulare or Toji ****** ::::)

  • Daniella Gleeson

    Erastus has been jogging my scent memory of my mother lately. There is some note in it that stirs up a little bit of what I remember her “Opium” perfume and Clove cigarettes smelled like on her. Highly intoxicating and comforting at the same time.

  • Julie Ann

    Love Dark Wave and Tulare!

  • Ashley Y

    Dark Wave is the scent that carried me through last winter, and I adore it. I’d really like to try Victory Wolf next.

  • LF

    I love hearing about how people’s past lives and passion projects bloom into the next chapter. OLO is a total dream. I started with dark wave, then fell in love with cedar & rose (so beautiful and calming without smelling too sweet) and currently obsessed with palo santo… It’s probably the best part of my morning ritual. As the seasons change and camping fades, I’d probably want victory wolf, or Erastus – to carry the air, and recall campfire memories … If my boyfriend is lucky, I’d share it with him.

  • Rebecca Mann

    Eminem wrote 8 Mile. OLO made 9 ml. I like both, and for the same reason. Lose yourself.

  • Jamie

    I grew up in the northeast and was simultaneously terrified and excited by big summertime thunderstorms. They’d pass through, leaving petrichor in the air (the smell of earth after rain), and that scent became a totem of youth’s wonder. To this day it’s my favorite smell (alongside Lightning Paw, one of Olo’s loveliest fragrances!).

  • ginger g.

    I love jasmine, so I would like Lightening Paw, Nationale 6/7, and possible Tulare. Dafne also caught my eye …sounds amazing as well! So many choices!

  • Amy Heffernan

    Clique Happy is my fav scent!

  • VP22

    I think I would choose Lightning Paw because it contains vanilla, which is my favorite scent.

  • Amy Lovell

    Would love to try the dark wave scent

  • Morgan Stewart

    The dark wave scent really stands out to me and it is definitely my favorite

  • Marlene V

    I would love to try the
    DAFNE scent.

  • Lisa

    I bet Cedar & Rose smells awesome.

  • Megan

    Dark Wave is life.

  • seeingisbelieving

    Dark Wave

  • Stephanie La Plante

    My favorite scent memory is smelling magnolia for the first time. Very heavenly. I would choose whichever scent is fruity or floral like magnolia.

  • BaileyDexter

    Scent are so important! I met my soulmate 15 years ago at work when he could smell the scent of my perfume. He went searching for the person. LOL And that is how we met!

  • Darlene Carbajal

    I would like Spartan.

  • Mel Borhi

    id like to try out toji fragrance.

  • Sandi Tymchuk

    Dark Wave appeals to me. Because my Mom was a wonderful cook and baker, several scents appeal to me, including basil, cinnamon, and vanilla.

  • Steph DeRita

    I would love to try NATIONALE 🙂

  • sunrisemoon

    I first discovered OLO in a tiny shop on the outskirts of Hollywood. Foret and Dark Wave blew me away – I had no idea perfume could evoke feelings of fog, dirt, woods, soil – I’ve been a fan ever since.

  • Brittani

    I think I’d pick the Cedar & Rose!

  • Sylvana

    I’d like to try Dark Wave.

  • Melanie Cameron

    Cedar & Rose would love to try that fragrance

  • Joti Baral

    Dark Wave sounds great

  • JoAna

    Lightning Paw is my favorite. But I’d like to try Palo Santo.

  • Jenny Scheldberg

    Dark Wave sounds like my kind of fragrance

  • Kevin

    I would like to try lightning paw! 🙂

  • Wendy Hutton

    cedar and rose sounds nice

  • Dana

    I love cedar & rose but I’m excited to try a new one, I love reading all of the descriptions on your website! Great interview!

  • Jamie Williams

    i would choose “Violet / Leather

  • john hutchens

    I would choose NATIONALE for my wife