Someone once wrote that fragrances can evoke images as sharp as photographs of moments long forgotten. A walk through a sunny meadow, a windswept evening on a beach, or the sleepy, peaceful hour when the last embers of a campfire smolder and turn to ash.
But what if a fragrance could evoke that moment when a woman began to believe in herself and love herself again? And what if each purchase of a perfume supported women recovering from abuse and trafficking? That’s the goal of DIVONA, a new perfume line with a social impact.
DIVONA is the creation of 34-year-old Ottawa resident, Mylène Paquin, and her business partner Kayte Torreao da Costa. They’ve just launched a Kickstarter campaign to get their perfume line up and running and, as of Day 12 of the campaign, have raised 46% of their goal.
The DIVONA line includes 12 fragrances, ranging from the smoky “Ember,” to the fresh “Brook;” from the enigmatic “Zephyr” to the crisp “Briar.” Each scent was conceptualized by Paquin, and created by a renowned US-based perfumer.
Women can choose their scent using online quizzes that match their identities and scent preferences with the perfumes. Each perfume is beautifully packaged with designs created in collaboration with Himashis Karmakar.
The heart of the fragrance
The DIVONA project reflects Paquin’s sensibilities acquired over seven years as a filmmaker – an ability to capture, with poetry and beauty, a moment in time. But the project has a deeply personal meaning for her too.
As a survivor of domestic abuse, Paquin said she understands intimately the struggle to leave a troubled situation.
“The abuse was devastating to my self-esteem. While I was on my journey to recover from that experience… to regain my voice and rebuild my life, I met other women struggling with the same experience. I knew I wanted to make a difference,” said Paquin.
That’s why, with DIVONA, she wanted to do more than create excellent perfumes. She wanted the project to benefit women in a meaningful way.
One drop, a ripple effect
Whenever someone purchases a perfume, $2 goes towards the cost of a care package which is distributed by non-profit partners to women who are fleeing abuse or trafficking. Further, all of the products in the care package are made by suppliers that support women through education, safe housing, counseling and employment.
“The products are the secret sauce of the care package – they’re all brands that empower women,” said Paquin. These brands, such as Novica, Global Girlfriend and Soapbox provide basic necessities, like warm socks, body lotion, shampoo and hand soap, and comfort items like journals, therapy sessions, bracelets, tea and candles.
Each package also includes a bottle of “Solace,” a fragrance available exclusively to women who were victims of abuse and trafficking. The packaging features butterflies, symbolizing transformation and freedom. The top notes of the scent are fruity, the heart is floral and the base is a soothing powder and musk.
Paquin said she hopes that the women who use “Solace” will then remember the scent as the time when they realized their worth and took the powerful steps to make a better life for themselves.