Marissa Zappas Brings a New Scent to the Museum of Sex

Mr. Gillotin said her studies were much different from anyone else’s he had met working in the industry. She began her apprenticeship with him around the time of her graduation in 2015. When it ended, he advised her to strike out on her own, telling her then that she could make more of a mark on the industry from the outside than the inside.

Most of Ms. Zappas’s perfumes are produced in limited quantities and start at about $150 a bottle. She also takes commissions for custom fragrances, a service that starts at about $4,000 a bottle (refills cost about $200).

To develop a custom perfume, Ms. Zappas probes clients’ memories for scent associations. “This is my favorite part, learning about their specific memories from childhood, like what foods their mother made, or what their backyard smells like,” she said.

Sera Gamble, a creator of the Netflix series “You,” commissioned a perfume last July after discovering Ms. Zappas’s products on Instagram. “I was so taken with the idea that she collaborates with poets and astrologers,” Ms. Gamble, 39, said.

The fragrance is still in development. “Perfume is ideally slow,” Ms. Zappas said.

She is also working on “Maggie the Cat is Alive, I’m Alive!,” a perfume with notes of violets, peaches and champagne. The name is from dialogue by Elizabeth Taylor in “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.”

“I’m finally feeling more settled, with enough confidence to make a fragrance worthy of her,” Ms. Zappas said.

She added, “Quite honestly, I just feel alive.”