There’s not much that Tessa Williams doesn’t know about perfume.
With her discerning nose and endless knowledge, it should come as no surprise that she has penned a successful book called Cult Perfume, and also written about the heady lives of the rich and famous, titled Hotels of the Stars.
Used to jetting back and forth to London, Tessa is still keeping her feet firmly on north-east soil, with some of her most successful scents inspired by the Aberdeenshire coastline.
Based in the picturesque village of Udny Green in Aberdeenshire, Tessa launched her own company around five years ago.
She now sells a wide range of products, from colognes to diffusers and candles.
With lockdown preventing travel, Tessa was unsure how her business would fare as she was used to visiting perfume houses far and wide. But she was pleasantly surprised to be busier than ever, and even launched her own hand sanitiser.
Society caught up with Tessa and found out out why scent is so evocative.
“After my book on perfumes was published, I realised just how much I loved reading and researching about it,” said Tessa.
“So when I finished writing, I felt quite sad that it had all come to an end.
“I realised how much perfume can change your mood, it’s an experience in a bottle.
Scent is wrapped up in emotion because it evokes memories and it’s the memories that makes you love the scent.”
“It can be a reminder of a happier time, or a memory of your mum getting ready when you were little.”
Tessa has created some gorgeous collections over the years, with Water, Air, Earth and Fire inspired by the elements.
And where better to seek a muse, than in the countryside on your doorstep?
“So the candles, diffusers and colognes all come in that range,” said Tessa.
“Lockdown was actually one of my busiest times, for candles in particular.
I think people spent so much time at home for obvious reasons, so they wanted to have something in their home which made them feel good.”
“I love living in Udny Green, the seasons seem to come and go so quickly.
“There’s amazing scents everywhere, like down by the beach at Newburgh. The gorse has that wonderful coconut smell.
“This is a beautiful part of the world, with the sea, beach, mountains and forest.
“I’ve lived in London and the south of France, but I loved coming back here to Aberdeen”
With home fragrances flying off the shelves, Tessa wasted no time in getting to work on her next collection.
Her latest fine fragrance range has been inspired by the scents we missed during lockdown.
“I’ve been working on this since last year, in collaboration with London pefumer, Sarah McCartney,” said Tessa.
“We have created three scents which really capture what we all longed for.
“Warm Sands/Blue Ocean is a reminder of a holiday abroad, with a sandy beach and sun cream.
“Dandelion Musk is a summer festival, set against the backdrop of a wildflower meadow.
“Finally, there is Dancing with Strangers.
“This scent was inspired by the fervent party goers of the Black and White Ball of 1966, organised by Truman Capote where hundreds of masked party goers packed into the Plaza Hotel in New York.
It’s that scent of getting ready, it’s the scent of a party but not just any party. A glamorous one, where you know you’re going to have an amazing night.”
It has certainly been a busy time for Tessa, and creating new scents has not come without its challenges.
“There have been difficulties, and lockdown didn’t make it easy,” said Tessa.
“I originally approached a perfumer in Paris. He was very interested, but due to Brexit it was going to cost a huge amount of money for him to even look at collaborating.
“There was also an amazing perfumer in Florence, who makes perfume for the likes of Madonna and Sting.
“He loved the idea of lockdown scents, but there was the difficulty of trying to get the product from Italy to the UK.
“Working with Sarah in a perfume house based in London has been fantastic. I really wanted to do a scent which evoked popcorn, because we’ve all missed the cinema so much.
“That proved quite tricky to do as a pure perfume, but could still possibly work as a room fragrance.”
But what does the Queen of scents dab on her own wrists? Tessa is fond of Chanel No 5, alongside Fracas by Robert Piguet.
“I’ve got a few celeb customers as well,” said Tessa.
“Kirstie Alley is a fan.
“I’ve been very lucky in general to run a business that I love.”
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