Today Beckielou Brown is wearing Altra Skin by Altra

Who: Beckielou Brown, founder, perfume creator and creative director of Altra. Beckielou launched Altra, her brand of 100% natural fragrances, with her friend and co founder Bridget Plant in 2022, it was a labour of love, but also an opportunity to create a collection of fragrances she’s been thinking about since she was a girl. When we caught up with her recently, she told us “I had always been obsessed with all things olfactory, my childhood memories are defined by scent, everything always relates back to smell for me and it’s the way I experience the world around me”.

Suffering from burnout after a marketing career in Los Angeles, she packed in her job and a chance encounter at a friend’s BBQ lead her to the Institute for Art and Olfaction, where she started attending their weekly open sessions. The opportunity to start blending her own scents led to her completely immersing herself in learning everything about fragrance creation and production. Soon she was turning the olfactory diary she had been keeping in her head since childhood into captivating aroma profiles, creating scents she wanted to experience from childhood or on her travels.

Although this was mostly a period of experimentation, it wasn’t long before friends started to ask for bottles to wear, and she began to take the idea of building a fragrance collection seriously. 
Back in London, she and Bridget started to build Altra using only natural ingredients, refining her skills in scent construction with help from the perfumer and educator Marina Barcenilla. She began to create compositions that had a sense of otherworldliness to them, and with a more mindful approach to what luxury fragrance could look and feel like. Now, Altra consists of five impressively competent fragrances, all offered in gorgeous and refillable hand crafted glass bottles. We loved Beckielou’s passion and commitment to natural fragrances and think we’ll be hearing a lot more from her, here’s what she told us when we met her recently. 

Today I’m wearing Altra Skin. It’s like a translucent shimmering veil, it surrounds you with this almost intangible aura of scent that’s hard to put your finger on. It’s both familiar and comforting, with a ‘come closer’ allure. It’s quite different from our other scents as it is sheer, intentionally minimal in its composition of only base notes, which mimic that clean ‘your skin but better’ scent that melds with your being and feels deeply personal. 
Even when I am not in the mood to wear perfume somehow Altra Skin still appeals, it’s become my neutral. It makes me feel put together in a really effortless way.

Every day I stand at my dresser and see which of our scents I am drawn too. Sometimes it’s the mood I’m in, sometimes it’s the mood I want to be in, the time of year, whether its sunny outside (Jasmin XXX or Dualist if it is) or cool and sultry (Stone Cold Heart or Ghost Flower).

I’ll apply a cloud of perfume around me, then some on my wrists and neck. I like to wear scent on both my skin, hair and clothes as the scent behaves differently on each. The skin warms the scent giving the truer experience, but hair and textiles allow for a layering effect and can often hold the scent for longer. Sometimes I’ll apply Ghost Flower to my skin, then layer with Altra Skin on my hair and clothing. Altra Skin was designed to be worn alone or layered, creating a more personal experience.

Fragrance means everything to me. I can’t imagine a world without the pleasure of beautiful scents. During the lockdown in 2020 I was amazed at how much I was affected by the lack of olfactory stimulation. Without access to my scent projects and library of materials and with so little interaction with the outside world and its variety of smells, when lock down was over I was desperate to be surrounded by scents again.

As we emerged from isolation I created Dualist – it’s a love letter to early summer in the city. It’s all the things I was missing and yearning for that, as we started to emerge, felt even more poignant and intense. It was like having been on a fast then having your first bite of fruit – the complexity of the flavours and intensity of the sweetness is like no other bite you’ve ever taken, it gives you a new sense of appreciation.

Dualist captures the verdant greenness of the London parks, the cool dewiness of the concrete overhangs of Brutalist buildings, rain on concrete, the sweet powdery blossoms picked up by the breeze, and the scent of a loved one’s sun-warmed skin with a hint of sun lotion. It’s nostalgic, quiet and romantic and was a moment of gratitude for things previously taken for granted.

I love to scent my home and will pick different scents and methods depending on the mood, time of day or season. Often in the mornings I’ll use a diffuser with a blend of oils that are uplifting or awakening, or I love the natural home sprays from Vitruvi – its Urban Garden scent is so bright and fresh without the obvious notes of natural home scents. In the evenings I like the ritual of dimming the lights and lighting a candle – something warming and welcoming, currently I’m enjoying candles by Lo. When I need to clear the energy and scent the space at the same time, I’ll burn a little palo santo or copal.

I love weird and wonderful scents as well as the traditionally beautiful ones. I actually love the smell burning rubber, perhaps due to being a lover of classic cars, and weirdly Saffron has a note that’s similar, which I adore…