Celebrating International Women’s Day, in previous years we’ve flagged up female perfumers who’ve shaped the scent world. For 2022 we wanted to give a particular high-five to some amazing women who’ve founded and continued to successfully run some of our favourite fragrance houses, during what has been one of the most challenging periods for retail – and the world! – in history.
So, let’s raise our glasses and support just some of these incredible and entrepreneurial women who strode their own paths in the world of perfume…
Imogen Russon-Taylor – Kingdom Scotland
From a distinguished career in the aromatic world of Scotch whisky, Imogen founded Scotland’s first fragrance house. Using perfume to share old narratives in new ways, tapping into the rich stories associated with perfume and natural ingredients, she’s also inspired by the Arctic explorer and Scottish botanist Isobel Wylie Hutchison – a woman ahead of her time, whose own tale inspired one of the initial trio of fragrances, Albaura.
Kate Evans – Angela Flanders
‘I’ve inherited this incredible legacy and I want it to live on,’ Kate Evans explains, having been bequeathed the award-winning London perfumery her mother, Anglea Flanders founded. Angela was a fragrant phenomenon: an utterly incredible woman with a life-long passion for perfume, who was still working – and creating beautiful scents – into her eighth decade. A costume designer turned interior designer turned perfumer, she passed her knowledge of ingredients and exquisite sense of style to Kate, who proudly continues at their Columbia Road boutique.
Amanda Connock – Connock London
Born of a love and respect for ‘nature, native folklore and family’, Amanda’s parents supplied hare to find ingredients to the perfumer industry – growing up surrounded by the world of scent, ‘‘I would sit in Dad’s office while he worked and smell the different bottles of fragrance on his desk’ she remembers. Blending samples and making bath salts as a child progressed to earning a business degree. Only four years after joining the family company, sadly her father died, but Amanda’s perfume passion blossomed afresh within her own fragrance house.
Marina Barcenilla – AromAtom
Part perfumer, part Space Scientist, having won awards for her aponymously named perfume house; after completing her studies in Planetary Science and Astronomy at the University of London, Marina created the house of AromAtom, because ‘As a Planetary Scientist and Astrobiologist I have thought deeply about what kind of strange and alien experiences humans might have on another planet. As a Perfumer, I know that memories and olfaction are intrinsically linked, and I have always found it easier to express my deepest thoughts and emotions through fragrance…’
Tonya Kidd-Beggs – Stories Parfums
A full-time mother of four, with two boys and twin girls to keep her busy, Tonya’s family played a significant role in her scent story: the twins inspired the brand name, that Tonya explains, ‘…pays tribute to the stories that shape our lives, from pain to beauty and from struggle to freedom.’ Having been born into the heart of Northern Ireland’s ‘troubles’, herself, and struggling to come to terms with thinking about the future curated each blend personally as a testament to the power of fragrance in her own life; Tonya’s turned her fragrant story-telling into a successful business – an inspiration to us all.
Amy Christiansen Si-Ahmed – Sana Jardin
A former social worker whose c.v. includes time with the Bill Clinton Foundation, the Robin Hood Foundation and the Cherie Blair Foundation; Amy set about ‘changing the world, one bottle of perfume at a time.’ Working with perfumer Carlos Benaïm, she sources ingredients via a women’s co-operative where, locally, they can now market orange flower water, candles made from flower wax, and compost made from the waste flowers.
Mona Kattan – Kayali
Huda Beauty have been wowing the world for over a decade, building an empire that went from a humble beauty blog to a blockbusting makeup and beauty business. Believing ‘scent is our most transformative part of our beauty routine, It has the power to completely change how we feel’, Mona and sister, Huda, are American-born to Iraqi immigrants, both now running their businesses from Dubai, embracing diversity and often opening up about the bullying they faced in childhood. Truly inspirational.
Holly Hutchinson – Memoize
On her seventh birthday, Holly was gifted her very first set of miniature perfumes. As her mother was ‘an avid collector of unusual scents’, perfumes were almost indelibly linked to scented snapshots of her childhood memories. Having joined a prestigious niche fragrance brand, after several years Holly says she ‘knew immediately’ what her own concept should be: sharing the emotionally evocative memories that launched her own fragrant career, while helping perfume-lovers explore their own scented memory banks.
Olivia da Costa – Olfactive O
From Chelsea College of Art, Olivia went on to become fascinated by scent as a literary device in turn of the century novels, while then studying English Literature. The psychology of perfume led her to working her way up from shop assistant to buyer at John Lewis, and when a friend introduced her to a distinguished perfumer, the passion became reality in her personality led, story-telling scents.
Michelle Feeney – Floral Street
Following her time at the Estée Lauder Companies, then revolutionary tanning name St Tropez, the always enterprising Michelle Feeney unveiled a fragrance line ‘built on the streets of London’. With an ethos of sustainability, the vibrant fragrances celebrate florals in a so-modern way, and from a flagship Covent Garden boutique to huge success in Sephora, these bouquets are blooming.
Having discreetly created fragrances for many famous private clients, she made the famous Grapefruit candle for Jo Malone (which Jennifer Lopez loved so much, she bought 300 for her hotel room). The first perfumer to use advanced micro-encapsulation (in a scented bathrobe) she now has her own fabulous fragrances evoking treasured memories, perfectly balanced and captured forever.
Sarah McCartney – 4160 Tuesdays
Having written for LUSH for 14 years, Sarah studied essential oils, acquired a small kit of rare ingredients and made her first fragrance. She then wrote a novel about ‘a woman who makes perfume to remind people of a time when they felt happy’ and turned her hobby into a business. There are 4160 Tuesdays in the average lifetime, and Sarah squeezes the scented juice out of every single one.
Emmanuelle Moeglin – Experimental Perfume Club
Completing her extensive training at the French perfumery school of ISIPCA, Emanuelle worked as a Scent Design Manager for various global fragrance brands, then become an independent perfumer based in London. Wanting to make the fragrance world more inclusive, she runs incredibly popular workshops which led to her own line of exceptionally exciting scents, including kits to make your own.
Rebecca Rose – To the Fairest
Inspired by storytelling and female strength, Rebecca first explored perfume via treasured vials from her grandmother. Later, still scent-obsessed, meeting fragrance expert Lizzie Ostrum encouraged her to launch her own company. Dedicated to giving back, Rebecca donates funds to charities, including a horticultural project working with vulnerable people; and during the pandemic, Head to Toe, who support people receiving mental health, community and social care.
Apprenticed to one of the UK’s experts in custom perfumery, Nancy began her career creating bespoke fragrances, she took her dream and made it reality – all the while, dividing her time between town and country and raising a family. Now with her own artisanal line, she has the knack of conjuring emotional responses with lyrical fragrances that are contemplative yet so effortlessly sophisticated.
Whichever of their fragrances you choose to explore, you will be amplifying and applauding the hard work and bravery of these female founders, every single time you spritz…
By Suzy Nightingale