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Tomilson Bynoe | Blackcliff: Barbados’ Natural Beauty in a Bottle

Jun 3, 2024 | Scent Talks

Let’s delve into the captivating world of BLACKCLIFF Parfums through an enlightening interview with its founder, TOMILSON BYNOE. A native Barbadian, Tomilson’s lifelong passion for fragrance began in his adolescence, deeply influenced by the sensory experiences of his Caribbean home. With 18 years of retail experience, Tomilson brings a unique perspective as Creative Director of Blackcliff. Each scent encapsulates a defining moment, inspired by the vibrant ‘raw natural beauty of Barbados: animalic, flora and fauna, and surf gently thrusting against rock and soil.’

 

So, Tomilson, could you please share your journey into perfumery and the inspiration behind the creation of Blackcliff? What is the brand’s ethos, and how did you put it together?

The more focused side of my journey began as a collector and I still am, of niche perfumery. This developed into the desire to create the scents my mind wanted to experience. Scents which elevated and enhanced the perception of those whom I came into contact with. However my initial enamoring of scent began as an 11-year old son, whose mother would always gift him with perfume.

The ethos of the brand is the elevation of perception, the power to transform. The ethos was at the heart of all my experiences with perfume to date. The sum collection of all my memories of what perfume and its wearing has done for or had on me and those I interacted with. I wanted to tell a story or send a message that elevated who I was and how I felt as a person in any situation, and without words transform the way those around me engaged with me but done in a manner that created a clear, passionate, bold and distinctive impression of myself.

 

How did you meet perfumer Kyle Mott-Kannenberg, and how has the collaboration between you two been so far? How do you resolve your eventual creative differences?

We met via the internet as a result of a search I did on a popular fragrance database. Our collaborative process is seamless, direct and very sensorily driven. We resolve all matters by discussion and quick action.

 

 

Tomilson Ishaka KyleTomilson, Ishaka (Tomilson’s wife), and perfumer Kyle Mott-Kannenberg

 

Barbados is famous for its white sandy beaches and crystal clear waters. However, some of your scents (Mr. Pink, Beautiful Monster, Hello Darkness…) showcase smoky, leathery, dark accords. Could you walk us through your creative process?

My process begins either with a concept, a challenge I’ve given ourselves to solve. When I write scents I see in colours, music, and specific life experiences. We like to test things, and test the envelope of what to expect from a scent.

 

The bold, stone-shaped black bottles of Blackcliff fragrances are quite distinctive. What inspired this design, and how does it relate to the scents? Why is Silk Kiss the only one that comes in an off-white bottle?

The design was based on the need to let those who share in our scents, feel the way I did when I decided to start Blackcliff Parfums. For all intent and purpose you are holding our cliff, we (my family and I) live on a cliff in Barbados. And the night this concept was birthed. It was against a black night sky as I stood on our cliff, thus the name BLACKCLIFF. Each bottle is a symbol of our genesis.

SILK KISS is the first of our scents to go into white rock. The colour of the rock is in keeping with the primary colours of our brand. We use black, white and gold as the hallmark of our brand. The white rocks allow our collection to come partially full circle. It stands to reason that in future one may also see golden rocks.

 

Silk KissSilk Kiss

 

Niche consumers expect the use of precious natural ingredients while at the same time they are becoming increasingly concerned about sustainability and ethical sourcing. How do you address these aspects?

As an island we know first hand the effects of what less than sustainable attitudes and global warming and climate changes have on the environment. We see first hand the effects that ineffective attitudes and/or global ignorance or arrogance have had on our weather patterns, our beaches, our marine life and environment, especially on small islands like mine. We therefore, through our perfumers and their sourcing of materials, do our best to ensure we conform to sustainable and ethically sourced ingredients.

 

What is your most popular scent, and which one has sparked the most controversy? Could you share a memorable or uncanny story from a wearer impacted by one of Blackcliff’s fragrances?

Our most popular scent is SEXY EYES and the most endearing not controversial is BEAUTIFUL MONSTER.

The most memorable comment we have had, is also the most common expression we get from most of our wearers, “people keep coming up to me and asking what are you wearing they have never smelt anything like this before.”

 

Sexy Eyes Beautiful MonsterSexy Eyes / Beautiful Monster

 

 

Blackcliff was founded very recently, in 2021. What is it like being a new indie perfume house in the face of a sea of niche brands and an overflow of new releases each year? What sets you apart from others?

Honestly I don’t think we have had time to sit and worry or question ourselves in this regard. Perhaps that is why we do what we do in the way we have been doing it. We are focused on creating what we want to create, more specifically what I want to create but done in a collaborative method which closely includes and respects the perfumers involvement and perspective. I say that with a smile. Blackcliff Parfums represents my collaborative fragrant expression shared with those who wish to be different, those who want there scent to speak for them, in such a way that it elevates and transforms how you are seen. I think our passion for creating what we want to create, cultured and inspired from the perspective of Barbados with interest beyond this island, makes us unique and boldly so.

 

You have multiple stockists in the US and one in Hungary. Can our readers from other regions expect to find your fragrances more readily available in the future?

Yes, we continue to seek new partners and strong markets to share our parfums. We have just begun working with a partner in UAE and are closely investigating other regions for new stockists.

 

 

Blackcliff ScentxploreBlackcliff’s booth at ScentXplore (2023)

 

 

What mark would Blackcliff like to leave in history?

While the question is admirable, how we are perceived in history will be decided in the future by those whom have experienced our brand and its development. We are more focused on now. Right now we will be the brand that does things uniquely different, from our rock inspired bottles to our distinctive scents, each aspect of what we do continues to have and represents our passion, and my love.

 

In 2 or 3 words, how would you define perfume?

Universal Language.

 

 

Follow Blackcliff on Instagram: @blackcliffparfums

Check out Blackcliff website: https://blackcliff.com

(images cortesy of Blackcliff)

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