Carolyn Dunne Hassett

Scent Artist | Jeweler | Knowledge Broker


I’m Carolyn Dunne Hassett—lover of dogs, chocolate, and wine, preferably all together—and Scent Artist at ESCENTUELLE. Every time I guide a studio guest in creating her own signature fragrance, I feel so privileged to be taken along the scent journey of her life: roses from her grandmother’s garden, salty surf from weekends at the beach with her girlfriends, peaches from the pies she bakes with her children. Having my guest tell me about the fragrances she’s worn before and select the scent families that smell the best to her gives me an idea of what she may want in her custom perfume. But that’s only the starting point.

With each ingredient I put on a tester strip for her to waft, she decides whether it’s right for her here and now. While we discuss why certain essences are used, where they come from, and how safe they are, I guide my guest in combining the ones she likes the most and evaluating how to make the blend succeed. I walk her through how a perfume is composed and what role each section plays in it so that she understands how the choices she makes affect the outcome of her own scent. And with each layer of her custom perfume—from base to heart to top—we come closer and closer to the final elixir that, when she spritzes it on her way out the door, makes her exclaim with a huge smile on her face, “It’s just…me!”

How lucky am I to have a job that makes people so happy?!

I’ve been scent-crazy my whole life (surprised?). It started with a couple of small vials of perfume my grandfather gave me when I was about 9 years old and progressed to my trying on every scent (for women AND men) in every department store in my teens, much to my best friend's amusement. 

But I wasn’t inspired to dig into what perfumes were made of until I was gifted a beautiful scent, Trésor by Lancôme, that I loved in the bottle but made me sad every time I wore it. This led me to discover and explore essential oils in 1998, before most of the world had even heard of them, and start to blend them with other all-natural ingredients into perfumes.

Having taught myself initially and honed my skills face-to-face with master perfumers in France and online via perfume-blending groups, I’ve been fortunate over the past 20+ years to be able to compose unique, highly personal scents that expressed the people I love. I didn’t see beyond those limits at the beginning, to be honest. It was just so much fun playing with scents and experimenting with their infinite combinations, like an artsy mad scientist.

It was my creative escape from technology and the go-go-go of the world.

But when I was waiting for an advanced training session to start at Galimard Perfumery in Grasse, I noticed the excitement and anticipation of all the other visitors, there to create their own custom scents with the system I have now at ESCENTUELLE. These lucky folks were on the trip of a lifetime—a beaming young couple on their honeymoon, a 30-something woman on a girls' adventure with her best friends, three generations experiencing French culture as a family—not only blending fragrances that expressed who they were but making new memories together in the process.

As I sat there it hit me that I couldn't keep my perfume-making merely a hobby. I had a vocation to share this special joy, to help others express themselves through custom scent. Life got in the way of making it possible immediately. But several years later, I was finally able to transition from my career in academic publishing to entrepreneur, opening a brick-and-mortar space in 2015 in historic Downtown Cary, North Carolina.

I truly believe a person’s fragrance should reflect and celebrate who they are. Each of my studio guests is unique, with a lifetime of precious memories she carries in her heart. I feel blessed to guide her, step-by-step, in discovering and combining the scent ingredients that tell the story of her—who she is and what she loves—so that she can shine a light to the world that is purely her.

Are you ready to create a fragrance that's

Frequently Asked Questions

You've got questions. We've got answers.

The essences our guests use to compose their own perfume are imported from Galimard perfumery in Grasse, France. They have met or exceeded European Union safety standards, which are much higher than those in the United States. These eaux de parfum are scent material mixed in alcohol, with about 35% natural ingredients (like essential oils), and at a concentration of approximately 13%.

Most people who usually worry about sensitivity to scent have had a good experience with ESCENTUELLE products due their quality and safety.

Our natural bodycare line is made of high-quality essential oils and ingredients sourced from a respected, predominantly organic supplier in the United States.

The fragrance industry now releases about 2,000 perfumes a year, so, not surprisingly, many get discontinued. We are therefore approached fairly often about replicating a fragrance that is no longer in production. The focus at ESCENTUELLE is on helping our guests compose fragrances that are unique to them, though we have successfully guided guests in creating a fragrance that has many of the same scent characteristics as something they loved wearing in the past. Exact replicas require chemical analysis and access to thousands of ingredients. We leave that up to companies that specialize in those services so that we may instead guide our customers in composing a scent that expresses their individuality. 

You may bring a non-perfuming friend to keep you company at an appointment as long as their input is minimal and does not slow down the custom process. If your guest will be contributing significantly to the creation of your scent (helping you choose ingredients, evaluating each level of blending) or their input makes your appointment exceed its time limit, a surcharge will apply.

Normally we welcome people ages 12 and up to our studio. If you have a younger child who would like to make a scent, an adult must be seated with them throughout the appointment and must help them with ingredient bottles, scent blending, and formula writing if their age or maturity level does not allow them to perform these tasks on their own. Pricing is the same as for an adult, though we can guide your child to age-appropriate ingredients if you so desire (e.g., leave out musk or patchouli).

Gift certificates are available for Private Sessions only. They're a prepaid custom perfume experience that may be redeemed up to 2 years from purchase. Private session appointments are available Tuesday-Saturday, day and evening and must be booked in advance. 

We do our best not to interrupt our guests' custom perfume experience, so we do not keep retail hours. If you notice we're open when a perfuming session is not in progress, you're welcome to browse and ask us questions. Appointments are required for specific perfuming time slots but if you call in advance (919-659-5661), we may be able to accommodate you. Note that perfume sessions last between 60 minutes and 2 hours.

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