Who: Tonya Kidd-Beggs, founder and C.E.O of luxury and gender inclusive STORIES fragrance house. Tonya’s connection to fragrance is an extraordinary reminder of how deep rooted and powerful our memory and fragrance connections are. Unable to remember her own childhood due to trauma, fragrance helped her heal by connecting to her past and providing an olfactory bridge to a better future. It’s not just about the good smells with this brand, so we asked Tonya to tell us more…
Today I’m wearing STORIES Nº.01 from my own range. It tells my story of sorrow transformed into beauty, of dark yielding to the light. This fragrance is where it all began for me. It represents me coming out of a very dark place in my life and stepping into a place of healing and wholeness. It makes me feel so alive every time I spritz it, it brings so much warmth and joy and it immediately takes me back to the time and place that my transformation took place many years ago.
The fragrance opens with citrus notes of bergamot, grapefruit and orange blossom, giving way to the reassuring warmth of cedarwood, a delicate touch of jasmine, heliotrope and fig-tea accord. There is a real mystery in this perfume with the back notes of amber, vibrant sandalwood and hint of vetiver. It is irresistibly seductive, elegant and contemporary in character.
I love layering fragrance, it actually forms the core of the brand and why I introduced our Hand & Body range. Firstly, the molecules of fragrance cling to your skin for longer allowing your fragrance to linger. I wanted to create a luxury skin care range that would not only prepare your skin for applying fragrance but one that would also be transforming to your skin, so the range is packed full of nutrients to nourish your skin with a light veil of fragrance. I love to mix up my scents day by day, maybe prepare skin with STORIES Nº.01 and then spritz STORIES Nº.02 – you create a unique bespoke fragrance and I love to experiment.
It all started because of my grandmother, whom I sadly never met as she died before I was born. My mum always told me she wore one particular fragrance, and that fragrance is what connects me to her today. I have memories of playing with her necklaces and her beautiful stoles which my mother had kept, and I have vivid memories of her smell because of the connection I had to her favourite perfume. She was an extraordinary businesswoman and broke a lot of glass ceilings for women from Northern Ireland in her day.
I originally wanted to create a personal, bespoke perfume for myself, and that journey led me to Grasse. It was an epiphany for me because the creation process brought back long forgotten memories and I realised the transformative power fragrance has.
I experienced significant trauma at the age of 12 and because of this, suffered a loss of my childhood memories. In later years, I went through counselling to successfully remove the root of trauma, and in fact went on to train as a counselling practitioner to help others, but sadly I still had no recollection of my lost childhood memories until I began working with fragrances.
My fragrance house was born as a testament to this power and to the stories which have shaped my own life. Fragrance has always been a way for me to connect with who I am and what matters to me and by sharing my fragrances and telling my stories through the art of perfumery, I hope to give people the space to stop and connect with either their past, their present or even dream for their future.
Being from Northern Ireland has most definitely shaped my fragrances and body care line. STORIES was born on the rugged coastline of North Down, the most exquisite landscape which brings a breath of fresh air and a place for relaxation. I combine these with woody, green, and evocative scents of the forests, and floral, herbaceous scents of the hedgerows and meadows. They are the scents of my childhood and have helped me to intuitively create my fragrances. The feel of Irish linen recalls the texture of the material on our Eau de Parfum boxes and they are an ode the history of Irish linen history and some of my ancestors livelihoods.
There are so many best bits about having your own fragrance brand, there is not one day I do not enjoy going to work, whether it is to the office, travelling on business or dreaming and creating.. If I was pushed to choose just one, it would have to be the creation side – I am told I work quite differently from the ways others work. I do not focus on individual notes and ingredients, but I blind test notes and blend as I go and work completely on my own intuition.
My story is still unfolding. I am not a perfumer but I am self-taught and I do work with a fabulous ‘nose’ who neither guides, takes away or pushes notes in my direction, but allows me to express myself freely to create a composition of my story. She brings the ending to the chapter and balances all the notes but does not remove or add anything. This is how I love to work and how I express myself. To me fragrance creation is an art form and just like with a painting, how you interpret the end piece is completely unique to each person.
Perfume increases customers’ well-being by connecting them to their emotions, memories and aspirations while respecting the environment. We are a story telling brand that inspires change. Fragrance is closely linked to memory and mood can make us feel highly emotive. Fragrance can convey a vast array of my emotions and feelings – from desire to power, vitality to relaxation.
I do have a scenting ritual and it is never not completed. I have been known to nearly miss flights as I would never ever allow myself to go anywhere without my scents! I begin first thing in the morning and finish last thing at night. I prepare my skin as I mentioned earlier, with STORIES Hand & Body Wash and then lather my body in our lotion. It is so nourishing I use it all year around and especially after my body has been exposed to the sun. I then spritz my perfume behind my ears, cleavage, behind my knees and I never miss the ends of my hair once dried. The molecules cling here long into the evening, and it is not damaging to the hair. Before bed I moisture my whole body – self massage before sleep is so good for our mental health. Then a little spritz before I climb into bed…
Scent for me has a real feel good factor and the same perfume can change with the season and your mood. I never tire of them.