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Article: Tonya's Story

Tonya's Story

Tonya's Story

Our sense of smell is the most powerful one we have. Closely linked to memory and mood, it has the ability to stir us, move us and immerse us in an instant. While I reflect on this I am reminded of my journey and how it all began... as we start to celebrate National Fragrance Week, I feel stirred to share my story with you all.

Let me introduce myself... my name is Tonya and I am Creative Director and Founder of luxury fragrance house, STORIES Parfums.



It all started because of my grandmother. She was an extraordinary business woman and broke a lot of glass ceilings for women in Northern Ireland in her time. Sadly, I never met her, but she always wore one particular scent and that smell is still what connects me to her today.

Fragrance has always been a way for me to connect with who I am and what matters to me. It was impossible to ignore the pulling in my heart to enter this fragrant world.

My own personal experience while working with fragrance gave me the passion to launch STORIES Parfums. As my children began to grow up I wanted to find a new outlet for myself, which led me to Grasse in France, the fragrance hub of the world. I wanted to create my own bespoke fragrance and take the time to learn from a perfumer - and where better to start than in an amazing French village, famous for its jasmine fields and perfumeries. I spent time in the perfumery with a beautiful Russian Nose (perfumer), learning directly from her about the world of perfumery. 


It was here while working in Grasse that I experienced a life changing, light bulb moment, that led me to leave France with a passion to share my experience with the world. 



I had experienced a childhood trauma which led to me losing my memories prior. Later in my teens and twenties I lived a very destructive life until I took the decision to spend time in counselling to remove the root of the trauma, which was very successful.

It was so successful that I chose to train as a counselling practitioner, going on to share my own experience of trauma with those who had experienced similar. I used to talk about the effects that trauma can have on our lives when we don’t take action and deal with the hurts and pain, so nothing about my past had a negative effect on my life anymore. Although sadly I found I had no recollection of my good childhood memories. This was until I began working with fragrances in Grasse.

Fragrance had the power to connect me to those good memories once forgotten, the memories once overshadowed by darkness were now dancing before me in a burst of olfactory goodness.

This should not have surprised me, since our sense of smell is the most powerful of all our senses, connected to our memories through our olfactory system.


So that’s the reason I wanted to create fragrance, to give people the space to stop and connect with fragrance in an emotional way.  Fragrance has the power to connect us to our true selves - connecting us to our past, present and even hopes and dreams for our future.  STORIES Parfums is an olfactory ode to the memories that have shaped MY life - but this is just MY story - I feel like I have begun the story in homage to my own story - but with any good story it needs a beginning and an end. Now my fragrances are a gift to you to write your own story.

Following the in-depth counselling to remove the root of my trauma I felt as if all my senses were heightened, especially my sense of smell. As if experiencing a divine moment, I would be enveloped with a wonderful feeling of peace and hope, appearing in olfactory form.  How can this be? How can you feel emotion with a smell... how can you smell with a colour or a thought?  It is very very possible….


Bear in mind this was over 20 years ago and I had no knowledge of what I was experiencing. I remember in those moments thinking that if I ever create a fragrance, this is what I would try and bottle. That smell. This became STORIES Nº.01, created by my intuition and totally from memory; this is hope in a bottle. 

This is my opening gift to you.


STORIES Nº.01 tells the story of renewed hope and joy, sorrow transformed into beauty, darkness yielding to light.

Uplifting citrus notes of Bergamot, Grapefruit & Orange Blossom, reassuring warmth of cedar wood, a delicate touch of Jasmine, Heliotrophe and Fig. The mystery of this fragrance is revealed in its blend of Amber, vibrant Sandalwood and hint of Vetiver.  

Inspired by a personal journey of healing, discovery and joy. A new beginning; lightness, contentment, vigour and vitality.

  • Top notes: Bergamot, Grapefruit, Orange Blossom
  • Heart notes: Cedarwood, Jasmine, Heliotrope, Fig-Tea
  • Base notes: Amber, Sandalwood, Vetiver

I create each fragrance blend using my own intuition; what I call the art of perfumery. Similar to how a painter expresses themselves, I too express myself through creating blends based on feeling and emotion and not by trend.

As I sat surrounded by the tiny brown bottles of the Perfumer’s Organ in a village on the French Riviera, I was confronted by some of my most painful memories. Each scent I inhaled illuminated past shadows and marked the start of a healing journey towards joyful new beginnings.

STORIES Parfums is an olfactory ode to the memories that have shaped my life. It was only after this transformative trip to the heart of perfume-making in Grasse that I realised the power of fragrance to heal, release and transcend tragedy.



My second scent is the one that connected me straight back to my childhood. It took me to a safe place in my grandfather's garden, prior to the trauma I experienced.

After blending this unique fragrance, I was immediately transported back to a beautiful safe memory... playing in his rose garden with pots of patchouli, rubbing the leaves on my tiny wrists. The smell of the river at the base of his garden along with wet leaves, dry woods and the comforting aroma of tobacco from his pipe.

STORIES Nº.02 is an invitation to walk through the garden, shed your shoes at the river and recover that which has been lost.
This blend opens with notes of Bulgarian rose, spiced with ginger, cardamom and green tea. Honey tobacco tones balance cedarwood at the heart of this woody fragrance. Opopanax, tonka bean and patchouli enhance the full-bodied perfume, while amber and musk leave a lasting impression.
  • Top notes: Bergamot, Ginger, Cardamom, Bulgarian Rose
  • Heart notes: Honey Tobacco, Cedarwood
  • Base notes: Opopanax , Tonka Bean , Patchouli, Amber, Musk

As I spent time sitting at the perfumer's organ I learnt to use notes through intuition. I also learnt that we can have preconceptions that we may love or dislike a scent even before lifting it to our nose. I had so many preconceptions of scents that I liked and disliked, but what I learnt was to inhale notes and connect to my feelings and emotions, rather than choosing from a name. I therefore chose to use numbers and not names - to allow the wearer to connect with the scent itself.

My story is just that, my story, but my hope is that my fragrances will be a gift to the wearer to connect to their own story, memories and aspirations.

“A luxury fragrance house that redefines niche through a sustainable, inclusive approach to the art of perfumery, at STORIES Parfums we believe passionately in beauty without boundaries. Intuitive, inclusive and always accessible, we will never define our fragrances by gender or name; we will never tell your story for you.”

Explore our luxury fragrance collection at

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