This month we are focussing on amplifying and supporting Black Women and WOC by sharing stories of inspirational people and Maya Njie definitely falls under that category. A London based, self-taught perfumer, Maya told us all about her journey of starting her own perfume brand, being stocked at Liberty London and her thoughts on funding and support for Black business owners.
1. You have a beautiful perfume brand, tell us a bit about you and your brand story. Why perfumes?
I make perfumes based on old memories where each scent has a photograph with a colour palette as a starting point. I have always been driven by smells in many aspects of my life so it felt like a natural road to take for me.
2. There is a massive increase in DIY hair and skin products, can the same be said for perfumes and is this something people can actually safely make?
DIY beauty is definitely on the rise, which I welcome but it’s worth mentioning that essential oils are concentrated and powerful. They contain allergens, often more so than the man made synthetic counterpart so you do need to have an understanding of what you’re doing. The fragrance industry is tightly regulated in this way both by the EU and IFRA. Here is where safety assessments come into play.
3. What is your favourite scent from your collection and why?
Nordic Cedar is my favourite fragrance in the range. It’s the first perfume I made and it holds that woody, earthy and musky notes that I love but with an added top layers of warm bright and aromatic cardamom and patchouli. I have been wearing it for 7 years now and haven’t tired yet.
4. You’re stocked in Liberty London amongst some incredible brands. How has the brand grown from when you first started?
I have scaled up my production, but still do it all in house. Mainly on my own but with a little help from my friends. I moved from the kitchen table last spring into a studio and have taken on more stockists internationally. It’s still very much a small niche brand though.
5. Currently, women of colour and black women receive the lowest amount of funding when it comes to business. What advice would you give them when it comes to starting their own business?
I am self funded and understand the hurdles that we face. Speaking from my own experience I would say that it takes time and hard graft. Check with your local council as there is often support for start up businesses in terms of mentoring. It’s been a slow gradual growth for me where I have reinvested profits into improving different areas of the brand over a number of years. Firstly, legislative work then the packaging followed by website and branding. I do almost all aspects of the business myself from production to branding and packaging design and outsource areas where I feel out of my depth.
6. What is your skincare routine like?
Whatever I have to hand to be honest. I don’t tend to spend lot on skincare. I do make my own oils using jojoba, baobab and shea for my hair and body and scent them with oils that I love like bergamot, neroli, vetiver, mandarin, Papyrus, Champaca, Lotus flower.. the list is long. I have a facial Caudalie elixir that I have been using for years on and off. I love the feeling of spritzing it on my skin more than anything else, it gives me a boost. I exfoliate from time to time but do not use special soaps, toners or creams.
7. As a perfumer, are there any ingredients that you see in skincare for fragrance that consumers should look out for whether that’s positive or negative?
For me it’s all about how an application makes you feel. Reverting back to skincare, my choices there is usually driven by how a product smells and therefore makes me feel when I wear it.
Check out the full range of Maya Njie Perfumes at www.mayanjie.com