Scents of a woman: VIVA meets Tonya Kidd-Beggs, CEO of Stories Parfums
Emma Chadwick | 4th June 2023
If you think a smell can take you back in time, to the classroom, your nan’s lounge or even a lost love, you’re not wrong as VIVA caught up with is Tonya Kidd-Beggs, Founder and CEO of STORIES Parfums.
Describing the brand as a ‘niche’ perfume house because of its commitment to creating the most gorgeous, high-end scents combined with an admirable sustainability ethos, the mother of four is passionate about the business she founded in 2018 and how smell can help wellbeing.
The reason it is called STORIES is because Tonya believes in the power of fragrance to connect people to their past, present and future dreams.
Now with a new candle range, which is vegan and sustainable, as we caught up with Tonya from her Northern Ireland home. What struck VIVA is the sheer attention to detail that goes into each product.
Tonya’s own story began when she was looking for something to do as her children grew up (two boys and twin girls) and began exploring the power of smell to get over a childhood trauma, using the power of fragrance to reconnect to her childhood which she had blocked out.
“I did counselling and part of my healing was the power of fragrances. Many people don’t realise how important smell is and the effect it has on our brains. It has ability to connect people, so I launched STORIES to show how we can connect with fragrance emotionally,” Tonya told VIVA.
She studied perfumery in Grasse and in her first session there had a list of a hundred notes she liked or disliked helping her create a fragrance.
“We did blind smelling in that first session and I soon discovered I loved the scent of vanilla, even though I’d written that off in my list. That was because I’d only really smelt a synthetic version!”
That first session inspired her numbering of perfumes as she doesn’t want people to choose them on their preconception but to select them on the scent they love.
After creating her first perfumes, Tonya launched them and is now stocked by the like of Harvey Nichols as well as her own website.
Attention to detail
It is her passion for fragrance that strikes you and the time she will take to perfect her products which has made them such a hit with retailers and customers alike.
For example, the candles took over a year and a half to develop because Tonya wanted to get a vegan ‘wax’ with staying power. And each one has 45-hour burning time. They come in gorgeous refillable glass holders and even the wick is cotton, so they flame evenly.
The candles pay homage to her signature STORIES-N01 and 02 perfume and body range launched and loved already but, said Tonya, have been balanced to work as candles, so whilst reminiscent of the fragrances, they are not exactly the same.
Each candle also has 10 to eleven ingredients which is unusual in the sector to get the beautiful layers of scent and you will find on the labels which notes (top, heart, bottom) the candle will release.
The candles come in two boxed sets of three, each trio reflecting the top, heart and base notes of STORIES Parfums Nº.01 and Nº.02 fragrances.
“Each candle trio can be burned separately to experience the individuality of their top, heart or base notes – or together for a truly indulgent olfactory experience – an industry first, to my knowledge.,”
“I’ve always loved fragrance layering and was inspired to recreate the experience with candles. We’ve taken the art of perfumery to a whole new level – literally layering the air around us with aromatic notes in a way that they can be enjoyed alone or combined in a scented symphony.” She added.
Hand-poured in the UK, the small-batch, refillable candles are sustainably made using organic ingredients where possible, with a wax blend of responsibly sourced soy, coconut and rapeseed oils.
“These small-batch candles have been handcrafted using methods that are respectful to the environment and reflect our ongoing commitment to sustainability. Vegan and cruelty-free, they are made without palm oil or GMOs (genetically modified organisms),” added Tonya.
“The candlewicks are 100% cotton and all of our packaging is recyclable and FSC certified; the glass jars can be refilled and the rigid black boxes repurposed.”
Tonya advises lighting the candle for two hours to start with and her tip for when you’re ready for a refill is to put the holder in the freezer to remove any wax.
They are divine as are the perfumes and Tonya has definitely achieved her aims of creating scents that connect you to your past, present and future. Not only that, they make you and your home smell gorgeous.