Tonya Kidd-Beggs, founder of the unique perfume brand STORIES Parfums, is yet another example of just how inspirational and empowering female-led brands can be. Each of Tonya’s fragrances are created to capture a moment and unlock a memory that is significant to her – as she says: “They are a story in aromatic form.” I caught up with Tonya recently to hear about how it all began and some of her most meaningful memories that have resulted in the creation of these beautifully scented perfumes.
Can you tell us a little about STORIES Parfums – how it all began and your inspiration behind the brand?
STORIES Parfums is an olfactory ode to the memories that have shaped my life. After a transformative trip to the heart of perfume-making in Grasse, France, I realised the power of fragrance to heal, release and transcend tragedy. Spurred on by this discovery, STORIES Parfums was born.
What is it that makes STORIES Parfums different to other luxury fragrance brands?
We use the best raw materials and time-honoured traditional methods. Each fragrance has been created to capture a moment and unlock a memory significant to me, and I hope it does the same for you. It is a therapeutic experience, a story in aromatic form. Sustainability is at our core. We have positioned ourselves as forerunners of the ‘new niche’, bringing luxury and sustainability together. We have received Highly Commended for the last two years, for Best Sustainable Fragrance Brand with Marie Claire UK Sustainability Awards for our efforts.
What’s your favourite part of being a perfumer?
I see perfumery as an art form. I work much like an artist creating a painting – I work from a blank canvas and then blend until the end creation. It is at the final stage that my story appears.
What do you think are the main qualities needed to be a good perfumer?
Passion and creativity. You can have a good nose and technical ability, but you cannot create an emotion without passion.
How and where do you source the ingredients for your perfumes?
Our ingredients are sustainably sourced from around the world and blended in Grasse, South of France, finally bottled with love in Northern Ireland.
What’s your most outstanding and significant memory related to scent that you remember?
Really this all started because of my grandmother, whom I sadly never met as she passed away before I was born. My mum always told me she wore one particular fragrance, and that fragrance lives in my mind and is what connects me to her today. I have memories of playing with her necklaces and some special clothes my mother had kept; and I have a vivid memory of her smell because of the connection I had to her favourite perfume.
One person whose stories you would love to listen to and create a fragrance for?
I sat with this question for a while, and I literally could not choose. I have a passion to listen to a variety of people’s stories and curating a fragrance that represents what I have heard. I focus on emotion over ingredient.
Who has been your greatest inspiration?
My Grandmother whom I sadly never met. She broke a lot of glass ceilings for women in her day in Northern Ireland – she has paved the way for women to pursue their dreams. She definitely passed on her entrepreneurial spirit to me.
Best piece of advice you’ve been given?
“To build a strong team, you must see someone else’s strength as a complement to your weakness and not a threat to your position or authority.” – Christine Caine
My four children without a doubt.
Hardest challenge you’ve had to face?
I suffered trauma as a child and my life spiralled out of control for many years. In my later years, I took the hard decision to deal with the trauma, which was very successful – unhealed trauma is extremely destructive. I dealt with it face on, came through the other side, and turned my life around. It was so successful that I went on to train as a counselling practitioner. I am an advocate of how inner healing can change your life.
Top beauty ‘must-have’ in your makeup bag?
My makeup bag is bulging with STUDIO10 products.
Desert Island disc, book and luxury item?