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Meet Roxana Villa of Illuminated Perfume in Santa Monica Mountains

Today we’d like to introduce you to Roxana Villa.

Roxana, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
Before discovering aromatherapy, I worked as a freelance illustrator for the print industry. At the time, most of the images I painted highlighted the connection between humans and the plant world. A little bottle of Juniperus viriginiana at a sweat lodge shifted my path from creating purely visual art to facilitating a complete sensory experience with nature. I witnessed firsthand the power of essential oils as conduits for mind body wellness in a very holistic framework.

As I delved deeper into the professional world of aromatherapy (ultimately earning my certification), I yearned to combine my two skill sets. At an artists’ workshop in Austria titled “Old Masters, New Visions,” I witnessed the divine interconnection between the visual arts and perfume. I then decided to weave all my talents into a perfume business highlighted with the word “illuminated,” referencing the 15th century, when the arts were united by the use of raw plant matter.

I create concept driven fragrances, many of which have a call to social action. In keeping with the spirit of the exquisite handmade artifact, details have been meticulously stitched throughout the brand.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
The most challenging aspect of my business is the word perfume. Many people, myself included, stay clear of anything fragranced, particularly “perfumes” because of allergies. Since words like natural technically mean nothing, chemically sensitive consumers don’t realize that there are fragrances in the world that don’t give you a headache for example. This is one of the reasons I’ve used the word botanical. However, marketing people are very savvy and have started attributing words buzz words such as sustainable, maker, artisan and botanical to conglomerates which of course have no affiliation with these adjectives. Thus, I am constantly looking for new ways to express the authenticity of my work to stay ahead of the green washing and attract my people.

Illuminated Perfume – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Illuminated Perfume was formally launched in June 2007 with the debut of six fragrances at the Ojai Lavender Festival where I was the keynote speaker. Since then, the line has expanded to offering both solid and liquid perfumes with over two dozen different scents to choose from. Although I started with the liquid perfumes, it’s the solid format that really defines my art. Made with beeswax from my feral hives and other local beekeepers, the little sample pots, round tins topped with a honey bee waxed seal, refillable compacts from vintage 1940s molds, and statement art lockets are my best selling products.

Although the attention to beauty and detail is evident in all aspects of the brand, at the core is the ingredients—how are the plants grown, obtained, processed and then brought to the market. Is the soul of the plant, the quintessence, still contained in the material that is being used? These concepts are important to my customers, and begin the first story point to building each fragrance.

What is “success” or “successful” for you?
The idyllic weather of Los Angeles makes it a utopia for all artisans working with plants, particularly the authentic natural perfumer who is blessed to have so much diversity in the flora available year round. The biggest challenge is that the positive side of the weather has attracted so many people moving to Los Angeles that the soaring expense of living and conducting a small niche business has become very difficult.

I’d like to see more attention to supporting the arts and creating artist communities and programs throughout all parts of the city, not only downtown.

Pricing:

  • Solid perfume sample sets begin at $22
  • Solid Perfume Lockets $57 to $95

Contact Info:


Image Credit:
Roxana Villa, Rebecca Fishman

1 Comment

  1. Greg Spalenka

    April 3, 2017 at 18:35

    Loved it!

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