Locally Made Perfumes for All Your Olfactory Dreams

Whether you want to smell like patchouli, citrus, cedar, or ylang ylang, Portland’s scent-makers have it covered.

By Fiona McCann Photography by Michael Novak Published in the June 2022 issue of Portland Monthly

Our olfactory sense has had quite the moment: coronavirus left many without a sense of smell, at least temporarily, while masks have also been running interference. But with summer’s heat and the scent of blooming roses rising alongside the aroma of blooming armpits, it’s time to pay homage to fragrance: the kind that’s made right here in Portland, comes in a bottle, and evokes everything from campfire smoke to cocoa powder to cloves.

In the world of mainstream fragrance, some trends are clear this summer, says Tracy Tsefalas of Southeast Portland fragrance boutique Fumerie. “Fruity and florals are really big,” according to Tsefalas, who has been working in the perfume industry for 30 years. But independent noses are doing their own thing. “In the small independents, they’re not subscribing to what’s trending, they’re doing more ‘This is what I’m inspired by at this moment right now, so this is what I’m going to create.’” 

As for Tsefalas’s clientele? Their tastes run the gamut. “I have some people come in and they want really dirty animalics,” she says—think notes of animal skin and body scents, musk and castoreum. “And some people want something that feels very Pacific Northwest, the woods and the forest.” The most popular aroma? “Woody resonance,” she says. 

The world of independent fragrance is very much alive and sniffing, with some new scents at Fumerie selling out within hours of Tsefalas stocking them. Those we highlight below are not your only local options: Seagrape Apothecary has a house line of perfumes including zesty, citrus-based Energize and woody, pine-overlayed Eros, while Sweet Anthem offers both solid perfumes and sprays. Its newest scent, Noémie, delivers a floral burst of hyacinth, lily, wild rose, and ylang ylang. So get spritzing with these locally made gems: smell ya later, Portland.

Hippie Shit, Maak Lab $150
Made in collaboration with LA brand Mister Green, Maak Lab's Hippie Shit was “inspired by the smell of burnt Palo Santo,” and comes in the color of burnt bark. Unsurprisingly, there’s a smoky note here, set off against the spicy citrus of neroli and some good old PNW wood and leather. 



Cedar and Rose, Olo $45
For a while there, it felt like Olo’s Cedar and Rose was the defining Portland scent, and it’s not hard to see why it’s still a cult favorite among the city’s perfumerati. According to the company, which has been making perfumes here since 2009, it’s “reminiscent of a stroll through the Portland Rose Test Garden.” The rose brings sweetness to the woody hit of cedar; the end result is bold and evocative. 


Obscura, Crosby Elements  $135
Crosby Elements founder Kelly Harland draws from artist residencies in the US and Canada for her Residency Collection—made, the company claims, from 100 percent natural ingredients. This one was inspired by a residency in Joshua Tree, and leads with warmth and resin, with spicy, ginger top notes and some round sandalwood at the base.



Sundrunk, Imaginary Authors $95
Each Imaginary Authors scent comes with its own narrative, each bottle like a book written by an invented writer. Sundrunk is a bold, citrusy fragrance with the warm sweetness of orange cut by the sourness of rhubarb and neroli. It’s summer vibes in a bottle, with just enough of a bitter edge to wrap you in nostalgia.  


Fjerne, Slumberhouse $300
Slumberhouse has garnered a kind of cult following in the fragrance world, thanks to the nose behind it all, self-taught perfumier Josh Lobb, achieving near legendary status. Carried in only a handful of stores in the country, including Portland’s Fumerie, his fragrances sell like hotcakes once released, and Fjerne is likely to be no exception. Think earthy wheatiness warmed by cocoa and a woody finish that’s pure Oregon. 


Summer Leaves, Siela $95
From Olo’s limited-edition line, Summer Leaves offers up a green and verdant seasonal hit, with crisp fig leaf notes offset by the base of vetiver and cypress. It’s like fresh leaves in a bottle, in the best of ways.