We are delighted to spotlight Marfa Muse and pioneering perfumer Maya Njie.
A self-taught perfumer with a background in surface design and photography, Maya’s natural intuition in scent lead to the launch of her niche perfume brand in 2016. Maya’s gender-neutral scents take inspiration from her Swedish and West African heritage, with high quality artisanal blends capturing nostalgic familial memories.
Maya wears the Buildable Shearling Liner in the new blush colourway, personalising her style stance with the Shearling Collar in orange, near her East London studio.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND
I grew up in Sweden, in a small industrial city called Vasteras. I lived with my mother and older sisters until I turned 19 and then me and my best friend moved to London. My heritage is Swedish on my mother side and Gambian on my father’s side and this acts as inspiration and is echoed in my line of fragrances. I live and work from the Isle of Dogs in East London and have been here for the past eleven years.
WHAT LED AND INSPIRED YOU TO START YOUR BUSINESS?
After arriving is London I spent many years working for Carhartt. I loved working for them and it shaped me in many ways but after having my daughter I decided to change direction. I enrolled at LCC as a mature student and graduated from their Surface Design foundation degree in 2012. Whilst there I gravitated towards traditional photography and textile design. Having that creative outlet gave me so much and it spurred me onto exploring multi-dimensional work. I used my old family photographs as inspiration in my design work and kept expanding on them further via scent.
TALK US THROUGH THE BRAND JOURNEY SO FAR...
After uni I found myself in a job that had pretty much zero creativity but paid the bills, just about. Whilst there I got more and more into perfumery and started creating fragrances for myself to wear. This quickly escalated to friends and friends of friends and then into independent stores. Over the years I have taken on more stockists here in the UK and internationally and launched in places like Liberty London, Goodhood Stores, Muse Experiences in Harlem and Nose Shop Japan.
WHAT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF?
To be honest I think it is that I have kept my determination and kept growing as a business and employing staff in an industry that isn’t particularly known for its inclusivity and diversity. It’s only in the past year or so that I have seen a slight shift. I have connected with some great people, let’s hope it continues.
WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR OTHER FEMALE ENTREPRENEURS?
Stay determined and keep going. Ask for advice and support in the areas where you need help and be sure to spend your time on the things that you’re good at or can learn about and take on comfortably. If there are people out there that can do the task better and faster than you, utilise that if possible. Focus on your journey and don’t worry about or compare yourself to what others are doing. Have patience.. Sometimes playing the long game is the best way forward.
HOW DO YOU STYLE YOUR MARFA STANCE PIECE?
I love colour and consider my palettes and how they work and layer together as an outfit so Marfa Stance is a true dream manifested for me. I love wearing pastels but also more muted tones and also darker colour combinations such as army greens, oranges and aubergines. And white and grey heather. I can be feminine in a dress and heels or quite androgynous in loose trousers, crewneck and a big coat. All in all I think I would describe my style as considered, layered and colourful.