Don't you love it when you catch a scent that reminds you of a wonderful memory - or draws you to reminisce on times gone by? I seem to have acquired quite an aromatic portfolio of memories and emotions, like photos in an album, never quite knowing which page I'll open at. I love it when an aroma takes me by completely by surprise and stops me in my tracks.
Scent and Emotion
Certain smells might remind you of special moments, even your earliest childhood memories. Times when life was good, bad or simply a different place or era. A wedding, new shoes, your grandparent's garden, a favourite café, book or lipstick.
Any moment of significance in life can be remembered and celebrated with scent, like sensorial bookmarks dotted throughout our lives.
Our response to smell is deeply rooted in psychology. It is individual to us, like a road map of our significant relationships and experiences based on smells we were exposed to at those times. When you smell a certain person, place or object, the memory centre in your brain is activated to absorb the emotions and experiences you associate with them.
I love to hear and share the stories that emerge from our interaction with scent. Everyone’s experience is different and everyone’s stories are unique.
As Mother's Day approaches, I've been thinking about the scents that I associate with my own mother. The air in our childhood kitchen, laden with the comforting smell of mum baking buttery, jam-topped scones, me 'helping' by licking the bowl clean. Growing up, I can conjure the heady scent that filled the house for hours after she bathed. The whaft of solid wood wardrobe doors opening to reveal a row of colourful dresses and coats. Hairspray. Lipstick. A good red wine. And more recently, fresh sea air as we walk the dogs and catch up over a good strong coffee.
STORIES all started because of my maternal 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 which lives in my mind is what connects me to her today. I have memories of playing with her necklaces and some special clothes my mother had kept and I have a vivid memory 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 in Northern Ireland in her time.
For so many of us, our first scent memories are linked to a beloved grandparent - who baked, made jam, or gardened - often unaware of the connection until reunited with that specific smell or experience. I define fragrance as an aroma that stirs a physical reaction and emotional connection. This could be anything from an open fire to our favourite flowers or the most exquisite perfume.
Neither a whim or a romantic notion, the link between scent, memory and emotion is scientifically proven.
Odours are processed by the olfactory bulb which begins inside the nose and connects to the limbic system in our brain. The limbic system controls two parts of the brain - the hypothalamus and cerebral cortex - which connect us to our emotions and memories. The olfactory nerve is short, which is why our sense of smell can affect us so quickly. Hence an intrinsically close relationship between smell, emotion and memory.
One particular smell gave me access to memories that I had buried very deeply, the starting point of a journey of restoration. This heavenly scent is what I sought to reproduce in STORIES N⁰. 01.
Our sense of smell isn't only about noticing what something smells like; it's a much more complex experience - and the only sense that connects to both memory and instinct. Certain smells have the ability to transport us to distant lands, dreams and into the arms of the ones we love, even when apart.
Memory and Emotion
Smelling fragrance is like being taken on a metaphorical journey. Perfume can support our wellbeing in so many ways, forging connections with our memories and empowering us to engage with our emotions. Of our five senses there is none so intricately connected to our emotions as our sense of smell.
For me, Mother's Day is about celebrating all of the most important women in our lives, from mothers and grandmothers to sisters, daughters and friends. I'm honoured to have so many wonderful women who enrich my person and business life and will be celebrating some of them with the gift of fragrance and body care to inspire a new chapter in their story.