Fragrance and Trauma: Our Founder’s Story
Our bodies tell the story of any trauma we have suffered. Limbs ache, headaches persist, stomachs churn and our pain is rooted in places to which we would rather not attend. Creative Director and Founder of STORIES Parfums, Tonya Kidd-Beggs, lost access to her memories as a result of traumatic life events. Her journey from darkness to light became the inspiration for her fragrance house. Scent is a powerful tool on the road to recovery. Here is some of Tonya’s story.
It was early spring in the meadow. After nine months of intense counselling, Tonya was walking her dog along the river where the blackthorn hedges hummed with bees and Himalayan Balsam pouted at the sun. As she turned towards the wildflower meadow, she stopped dead on the path. A smell unlike anything she had experienced before was carried on the breeze. It was aromatic yet so light it seemed to dance around her. The smell was magnified, as though her therapy had unlocked something; it felt like being wrapped in a blanket and held. Although she did not have the language for it at the time, the scent was redolent of protection and security. This was the aroma she sought to capture in STORIES Nº. 01.
For Tonya, choosing to uproot the trauma that eroded her ability to smell, was a painful process. Scent played an essential role in her healing which, in turn, inspired her to build the STORIES Parfums fragrance house. Perfume and essential oils can support our well being in so many ways. Not only do they carry physical super-powers, but they forge connections with our memories and empower us to engage with our emotions.
Of our five senses there is none so intricately connected to our emotions as our sense of smell. The physiological explanation for this is related to our limbic system in our brain that processes both smell and emotion. Not only that, our olfactory centre interacts directly with the hippocampus, the part of our brain responsible for the formation of new memories.
This month, as we attempt to build healthy foundations for what lies ahead, let’s learn more about the scents that will support our health and help us feel good.
If you Want to Feel Uplifted
Citrus notes such as lemon, bitter orange, orange flower, grapefruit, lime and bergamot are known for their uplifting, cleansing properties. These are the scents that will lift your spirits and ensure that you start the day well. They are zesty, fresh and light, the perfect antidote for the January blues. Tonya chose lemon, orange flower and bergamot to open STORIES Nº. 01 because they perfectly encapsulated the scent she encountered in the meadow. For her, it is what freedom smells like when it is first embodied. If light had a smell, it would draw on these hesperidic notes first and foremost.
If you Want to Feel Protected
Imagine the deep magic of a forest with the sun aslant in the trees. You are a child running free in the knowledge that you are safe, loved and at liberty to explore. The heat of the day releases a scent from the trees that is heady and rich. This is the fragrance that wraps us up and tucks us in when we need to feel safe. Oils such as sandalwood and vetiver have a cooling effect on the body akin to the shelter afforded by a shady grove on a hot day. Frankincense, cedarwood and juniper are aromatic and comforting. Each has a unique profile but they share the ability to bring reassurance when we need to take some time out.
If you Want to Feel Peaceful
Whether you need a good night’s sleep or a scent that tethers you to emotional balance, there are oils that will bring about a sense of calm. The best known oil is lavender for releasing stress and giving us the sweetest of dreams. What about geranium? This floral oil is renowned for its ability to bring emotional balance and clarity when feelings are running high (or low). Rose oil, with its unmistakable scent, commonly triggers memories in the wearer. It is a powerful de-stressor when you are anxious. Chamomile is also a great oil for relieving tension and supporting our sleep.
How do I feel when I smell this?
The key when utilising the power of fragrance to support our emotional and physical well being is to ask ourselves this question: How do I feel when I smell this? Tonya encourages wearers of STORIES Eau de Parfums to ask themselves this when they first encounter the fragrance. Whether its perfume, essential oils or even herbal tea, we are forging emotional connections with scent and it is essential that we engage our heart in the process. Our olfactory capacity as it relates to our journeys of healing and freedom is great. How will you harness its power?