Supporting Irish business is a passion of ours at IMAGE and it's easy with so many entrepreneurial and innovative Irish businesses to buy from. From now until Christmas we are highlighting Irish businesses or business people that we are excited about. Today it's an interview with Tonya Kidd-Beggs, creative director and founder of Stories Parfums, whose connection with scent inspired a collection of fragrances, body and hand washes, body lotions and candles.
How long have you been in business? And what was your mission from the outset?
Stories Parfums has just reached its 2nd birthday but has been 5 years in the making. What started out as a new hobby in perfumery took me to the fragrance destination of Grasse in the South of France to discover and learn more about the art of fragrance. Our fragrance house was born as a testament to the power of fragrance and to the stories that have shaped my life. I had significant trauma at the age of 12 and as a result had suffered loss of my childhood memories. In creating Stories Parfums, I wanted to empower people through scent to connect with their own stories, past, present or future. Stories make up who we are, and life is richer the more you have to tell. I created the fragrances in homage to my stories, but they are just the beginning; as with all good stories, they need a middle and an end. I like to think of it as though we have picked up the pen, now it’s up to you the customer to write the rest! Our sense of smell is the most powerful one we have – it has the ability to move and immerse us in an instant, through its close link to memory and mood. Fragrance truly has the ability to transport the mind and transform the emotions. My mission is to define the new niche of perfumery with being intuitive, inclusive and sustainable, to remove the preconceptions that people may have about fragrance.
Founder Tonya Kidd-Beggs
Of what part of your business are you most proud?
This is very hard to decide - so forgive me for not being able to choose one! Stories Parfums is the very first niche fragrance house in Northern Ireland and the fact that I am not a trained nose but am able to create every fragrance myself through my own intuition is something I am incredibly proud of. The brand is an olfactory ode to the memories that have shaped my own life, the fact that following my own transformative trip to the heart of perfume-making in Grasse, France, I realised the power of fragrance to heal, release and transcend tragedy and seeing this working through our customers lives also is the most rewarding of all. Fragrance is universal and can bring so much joy and being able to be part of people’s journeys is amazing.
Who are your business heroes and personal heroes?
One of my go-to heroes is the fabulous author and speaker Brené Brown. Her books are The Gifts of Imperfection, Daring Greatly, Rising Strong, Braving the Wilderness, and Dare to Lead. A must listen is her Ted talk, The Power of Vulnerability. Her books and talks actually gave me the power to find my own voice and giving me the courage to be comfortable in my own story and vulnerability. More close to heart is my own grandmother who I sadly never met, as she died before I was born. She was a hotelier and a businesswoman who broke a lot of glass ceilings for women in Northern Ireland in her day. I know she has passed on her entrepreneurial gift to me and I plan to pass this on to all four of my children. Nothing is impossible if it is your passion.
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How have you found the last six months, professionally and personally?
We all are walking in very unknown waters at the moment. There have been times of worry as I am still in the process of building my brand but thankfully I had invested a lot of my time into building our website before the first lockdown. A challenge for any fragrance house selling online is how can you smell a fragrance before you buy, but the fact our website was already up and running and we are able to supply our customers worldwide has made things slightly easier for us. Of course, the continuous lockdowns with our wonderful retail partners is extremely sad for all involved. In another sense, it has given me such precious times with my husband and children that we normally would not have with the craziness of business and life. Personally - I believe I am not the only one who just wants to be able to hug their family and friends, more so my parents as they need to continue to isolate and I have not physically been able to see them in person or hug them.
What keeps you positive?
This season and this pain will come to an end. As humans, we are hugely resilient and I know we will get through this. I strongly believe we need to ride this wave and not sit down and give up, we will be OK. No matter what pain is in front of us, we will come through. My heart and mind keep me positive. I do not give in to negativity and inject positivity in all I do.
What new perspective (if any) have you gained from 2020?
We do not have control of what happens in this world but we do have a choice on how we react to it.
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Best/worst moment from 2020?
The best moment was the new product development of new fragrances and also our very first candles. I have had the time to be very creative. Worst — putting the pandemic aside — one of my sons left for university. He was the first child to flee the nest and it was absolutely heart wrenching for me. I was not prepared for such joy (for him) and pain (for me) all at the same time.
How will you celebrate the holidays this year?
As always with family, I have such a huge family and we all gather, usually in our home (Covid permitting - I hope this will be able to happen). If not I will spend it with my husband, four children and two dogs, and plenty of walks and Facetime with the extended family. Christmas is one of our most favourite times of the year.
Are there any other Irish businesses you want to shine a spotlight on?
Taylor Yates in the North Coast of Ireland. The most luxurious buttery soft leather bags and each bag has its own story.
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Anything else you would like to let us know?
I will leave you with this. Believe in your vision and believe in yourself. Be courageous, be passionate and most of all be authentic! Keep these attributes close and you will see the right doors open naturally and the wrong ones close. Timing is key. There is always a reason, sometimes your biggest ‘no’ opens the door to your biggest ‘yes’, so shrug off any thoughts of rejection and keep moving forward.
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