Aja Botanicals: Meet Tilly Wood

Aja Botanicals: Meet Tilly Wood
Aja (“Asia”) Botanicals are a British natural fragrance company founded by actress, entrepreneur and perfumer Tilly Wood. Hand-crafted in the UK, their artisan batches are designed for a “walk on the wild side” as you step “into the mystic.”


The Art of Aja

Could you tell us a little more about your background as a model and film producer and how this led to your transition into holistic health?

I started modelling at a young age while I was still at school. I was a bit of a wild child, so it took a while for me to realise that a breakfast of Mars Bars and cans of coke wasn’t going to do it for me. I had given up sport by leaving school early, was partying and going out a lot with my friends – I didn’t have a great amount of balance in life.

Although it was a lot of fun, there were times when the wheels fell off and I didn’t feel good about myself. Although I was quite hedonistic, after a few years I switched up my lifestyle and it helped me learn how to look after myself. You are your business so you have to make an investment in yourself with the lifestyle choices that you make. I discovered the importance of exercise for keeping my energy levels up, as well as my confidence, and learned how to eat a more nutritious diet.

I worked for many years on both sides of the camera and loved every part of it, but the stress levels were very high with film producing in particular, so a holistic approach to health and managing this helped me a lot. When I first had my children 22 years ago, I found that this holistic and preventative approach worked really well – both for me and my family; it helped us cope under pressure and gave us a sense of well-being and vitality. I felt very supported and empowered by this system of self-care as my children were growing up,  and there was always something I could find from the holistic world that would keep our immune systems strong and our emotions balanced.


What inspired the unique formulations and names for each of your products?

The process of making each scent is very much a labour of love. I work with amazing perfumers who use the best ingredients. They honour the environment and respect the people who work alongside them.

My aim is to make uplifting scents that support my belief system: to remind us of the importance of having a soul connection to ourselves, to our surroundings and to each-other. Nature is as important as reminding ourselves that we can create a beautiful environment around us. In our homes we can completely change the energy by doing so, and can use scents to both lift and ground us.

The names of the fragrances come from song titles – songs that resonate with the fragrance. Sometimes we will play the song to help inspire the fragrance work and sometimes only once the fragrance is created do I find the right song to match. I love music so much and am always very moved by it, so for me, adding a song to the fragrance adds another layer of creativity and story to it. In sharing these loving intentions, I hope it gives the candles a higher vibration and more enjoyment to the user!


Tell us a little more about the ingredients and suppliers that you work with, and how these are sourced?

We use incredibly high-grade essential oils that are sustainably sourced and have given credence to our positioning as a fine fragrance house, using specialist ingredients such as Spikenard, Fir Needle, Angelica and Neroli.


What are some of your favourite products from the range right now, and what’s yet to come?

I love them all, it’s so hard to pick just one as they all invoke a different feeling in me, that is what makes them so unique – they don’t just create a beautiful aroma, they actually change the way you feel due to the power of the essential oils.

If I want to feel relaxed and clear the energy around me, I’ll often burn “Dreams.” It’s especially good after an indulging night and it’s part of my hangover tool kit! Or if I really want to switch off and tune out I will light Dreams and take a long bath. The fragrance has such special ingredients that have been used in spiritual ceremonies over the centuries, so I feel this fragrance carries that energy.

If he lights are low and we are having guests over for a winter dinner party I’ll often light “Walk on the Wild Side”, this has an enveloping warmth to the fragrance that helps to create a special atmosphere and set the scene for a night in with friends.


What are your top health and beauty tips or myth busters?

My top tip is exercise, even 20 mins makes a huge difference to my energy and mood, and you can still get fit at any age! I also am a big fan of body brushing to get your lymphatic system going, as well as a cold swim or shower to boost your mood. A couple of years ago I discovered liposomal vitamin c which I now take almost daily, and if any of my family have a cold or a flu we will take 1000s of mg a day. We also take magnesium or have it in the bath as salts, this is a mineral that we are all mostly lacking.



Great Business Scents

What challenges have you faced and how did you overcome them?

Within the last year we have gone from being a small company run from our home office to a leading fine home fragrance brand, with a pop-up store in Soho, an online boutique and 48 different SKU’s!  It’s quite the achievement, I’m very proud of what our small team has taken on and managed.


Where do your customers and distributors find you, or how do you source them?

We have our new store at 19 Air St in Soho, we are online at www.ajabotanicals.com and we also have active social channels like Instagram. You can’t miss us!


What’s the smallest change that’s given the biggest return?

Probably the amazing people we’ve met along the way that have now become firm friends and joined us on the Aja Botanicals journey. Whenever we were stuck looking for a photographer, strategist etc. – suddenly a new person would appear in our lives and become part of the Aja family.


Do any customers use or benefit from the products in ways you didn’t expect?

It’s actually the little stories that make the most difference. Someone recently bought the Dreams diffuser and put it in her little girl’s bedroom – she was never a very good sleeper and the power of the natural herbaceous haze is helping her drift off without waking her parents every night!



Fragrant Founder Feelings

What motivates you?

I like to create, to learn and to do new things, so setting up Aja Botanicals has been super rewarding. Learning about fragrance has been extraordinary, and it has introduced a whole new olfactory world to me. I love how fragrance is so closely linked to emotions and memories. I have always been business minded and this has always motivated me. As is probably the same for many of us – I have also always needed to provide for myself and my family. I enjoy sharing the information and inspiration that has been passed down to me over the years, and hopefully it helps others to look after themselves, and to cope with life’s ups and downs.


What has been your biggest lesson, fear, or failure?

I think I am quite brave naturally, it’s probably because I grew up riding horses. I think as a child that’s quite a brave thing to do – gallop around and jump with an animal, I feel lucky that I grew up in the countryside in an environment that gave me access to this. I’m only human though and I do fear making mistakes and getting things wrong, but over the years I have realised that I am mostly not afraid to try things now, and I’m happy to push myself when I am in uncharted territory. I have learned a lot from my failures and the greatest rewards are often in completing the things you didn’t want to do, or don’t naturally find as easy.


Do you have a mentor or people you ask for advice?

I have a couple – I have been fortunate to have an amazing holistic practitioner, she has been the oracle for me in many aspects of my life over the last 30 years! I have also been fortunate enough to make some valuable connections with quite spiritually tuned-in people who have taught me a lot. I have also read lots of books! However there is always more to learn.


How do you manage your strengths and weaknesses?

Firstly, I try to recognise what they are, so that I know what I need to work on. Being aware is the key. I think learning to manage your stress is very important. When I get too stressed I can become a bit manic, I can achieve quite a bit in this state but it’s not sustainable long-term. I try to do yoga to get down to earth and feel more balanced.


How has what you do changed you as a person?

I have grown in confidence and the business is now enabling me to share my beliefs, passion for self-transformation, well-being and fun. We are all powerful beings that can change and uplift ourselves or ground ourselves (depending on what we need) and the medium of scent can assist with that. I enjoy the high vibes of fragrance, it’s like putting on a beautiful coat or a brilliant hat. It’s about how you feel.


Do you have an opinion on plant medicines such as cannabis or ayahuasca – as tools for living in alignment?

Everyone has to find their own path for living in alignment, I choose holistic medicines based on plants. I personally feel that ayahuasca, being a powerful plant medicine, is probably better left to the tribes that have grown up with it. It’s my personal belief that we learn the most about ourselves through the relationships we have with our people, rather than by using substances.


What does spirituality mean to you?

Freedom, love and joy.


If time and money were no object – what would be on your to do and to see list?

I would spend more time travelling and I would set-up some kind of retreat hotel for wellbeing and fun!