Who: Maya Njie, independent perfumer and designer based on the Isle of Dogs in London. Maya told us she stumbled into the fragrance world whilst studying Surface Design. While at college she worked with print, pattern and traditional photography, always inspired by her Swedish and West African heritage. She would often use old family photographs as a starting point for inspiration, focusing on their tones and colour palette. Working visually in this way made her want to explore multi sensory projects and olfaction as another way of communicating design. Maya says that for her, colour and scent go hand in hand, so it felt like a natural progression.
Maya’s expertise in colour and design comes through strongly in the wonderful imagery that accompanies her fragrances, offering customers an alternative way to appreciate a scent particularly if you, too, are a visual person. You may be drawn to the cheery nostalgia of the brightly painted house in the photo used for Les Fleurs, or the dreamy glamour of Tropica’s palm tree image, along with its muted bright tones. Or maybe you just want to use the Pantone-style colour palette of Nordic Cedar to paint your lounge with (just me?). It feels like there’s a story to discover just under the surface of the wistful and charming photography.
The fragrances are all good too and show remarkable confidence and creativity for such a young perfumer. We’re big fans, so it was a thrill to ask Maya our regular set of questions.
“Today I am wearing one of my own scents called Nordic Cedar. It’s my favourite scent and I tend to wear it every day. It’s a real woody, musky fragrance as you’d expect but with a crisp, airy and aromatic opening of cardamom and underlying earthy patchouli tones. I love it as I find it invigorating, cleansing and comforting, all at the same time.
All of my fragrances have a colour palette connected to them and one chosen colour which is represented as part of their packaging. Nordic Cedar has an orange lining with a dark green outer colour.
I have been using scent to help me through lockdown, but it’s been more about scenting my home. I have been blending fragrances according to my mood and weather and also explored Senegalese incense – it’s been fun and also really helped in creating a homely environment that is also interchangeable. I have also created a blend that I spray on the floor of the shower before I get in – a shower mist. It’s made up of neroli, mandarin, grapefruit, geranium and cedarwood amongst other notes and its been a real nice morning ritual for me (we’re thinking Maya should make this into a product, right?)
I apply fragrance quite frivolously and tend to wear it on my neck and shoulders. It gets spritzed on after I get dressed – a lot of the time when I also have an outer layer on too. I also like to spray it on my right sleeve for my own easy access during the day. I find that I can smell it more on my clothes so I do a combination.
Fragrance is a key part of my day and has the power to alter my mood, wellbeing and confidence, it’s a way of evoking past memories and also an excellent way of creating new ones. It makes my life much more colourful and to be able to create in the way that I do is a really fulfilling outlet for me.
At the moment I am scaling up my production and growing my team. I blend my fragrances by hand in my studio and it’s a huge undertaking so I’m working on expanding my wholesale part of my business. I am also working on new fragrances of mine to bring to the table along with more dates for my Bespoke Perfume Workshops.
I am currently working on a fragrance for Scent Trunk in L.A which has been a really interesting process, I can’t divulge too much of the fragrance as yet, other than that it’s in a realm of familiarity to my native Sweden but connected to another place geographically.
I love the smell of soil but I don’t really know if there are scents out there that represent these types of notes well, to be honest. Maybe I should research the petrichor scents out there or even better – make one myself!”