Born in Västerås Sweden, Maya Njie (pronounced ‘Maia N-Jai’) moved to London in her late teens. Her background lies in surface design and photography, which she studied at the University of the Arts London. To further communicate her work, she began experimenting with the sense of smell as an added medium. Inspired by an old family photo album from the decades before her birth, Maya set out to capture, by way of scent, these moments in time, these tropes of familial life, set within their frames. ‘What did it smell like?’ The small Swedish summer house surrounded by mercurial forests, the visits to her grandparents’ sparsely furnished flat on Sunday afternoons, Uncle Lars’ and Aunt Erene’s wedding.. she sought to bottle the spirit connected to the classic 1970’s Scandinavian idyll, combined with the soul of her esoteric Gambian heritage.
After graduating Maya spent the next few years working for The Laundry, an arts hub situated in London Fields. During her time there she delved further into the olfactory world, experimenting with different raw materials and teaching herself perfumery. As she wore her perfumes to work, visitors and tenants alike showed a particular interest in her creations. Her androgynous notes left addictive trails behind to be coveted, and a band of devotees grew organically over time, soon to be followed by placement in a handful of local independent shops.
Maya Njie Perfumes was founded in 2016. A niche perfume brand with a clear focus on high-quality artisanal blends, the scents are deeply rooted in Maya’s Swedish and West African culture. All formulas are developed in-house, using a variety of essential oils, aroma compounds and resins. Making use of both naturals and synthetics in her creations – it is nature and science combined. Ingredients such as musk and ambergris are synthetic substitutes and do not derive from their animal origin counterpart. All perfumes are vegan and they have not been tested on animals, nor have the ingredients they contain.
With care and precision, the blends are mixed in small fresh batches, filtered and bottled individually by hand. Drawing on her education in surface design, Maya has designed bespoke packaging by incorporating the dreamy colour ways extracted from her family’s photographs. In this way, Maya saw to fruition, her desire to reconstruct through her perfumes, those elusive moments which otherwise may have slipped quietly away. The tones are of a time, and the accords nostalgic, yet the end products are notably contemporary.
As a company, Maya Njie supports Ecologi by helping to fund their climate projects. It’s a way for us as a business to support the planting of trees and offset our carbon footprint.