Self-Portrait in Fragrance: Beth Terry’s Creative Universe
A BeautyNewsNYC and BeautyNewsLA.com Exclusive
By Michelyn Camen
Artists convey their innermost feelings through a variety of mediums. Painters paint, authors write, musicians compose. Beth Terry, founder and owner of Creative Universe, expresses her imagination through the nuances and provocative notes of fragrance. Her scents are worn by mega-stars such as Elton John, Will Smith, Brooke Shields and Lee Anne Rimes, and have achieved a cult status with the fragrance cognoscenti worldwide.
It seemed fitting to meet Beth Terry over a cup of Earl Grey tea (the “star” ingredient used in all her fragrances) at the Saint Ambrose Restaurant on Madison Avenue and 77th Street.
BN: I have been wearing Tė for years. No matter how many fragrances I discover, I keep going back to it.
BT: You must be a “Fashionista”. People who love fashion always gravitate to Tė.
BN: How do you know that? I am a Fashionista! Do you have a background in fashion?
BT: I was in the fashion industry before I began my company. I worked for Charivari, which was the first upscale store that catered to fashion people and celebrities.
BN: When did you start Creative Universe?
BT: I started Creative Universe in 1995. It took a bit of time to discover what I was really passionate about and the same answer kept coming over and over. The answer was fragrance.
BN: Did you study to become a perfumer?
BT: I am not a perfumer by trade. As a child I was always sensitive and very aware of smell.
BN: How do you create a fragrance?
BT: I consider myself a “fragrance designer”. I first come up with a concept and define it;
then ingredients, then a first sample. I make adjustments to my exact liking. I am the customer so it must be very elegant… sometimes we can go through hundreds of samples before it is a concept match
BN: As a woman with no training as a perfumer, how did you create a worldwide business?
BT: In 1995, when I started, the climate was good for “indie” brands. You had girls that were
starting make-up companies and bath lines. Hard Candy, Urban Decay and Philosophy all started around that time. So it was the perfect time to come in.
BN: How is the market different in 2007 than in 1995?
BT: It’s changed now because the indie fragrance market is huge. Now, there
are thousands of small brands out there. There are also bigger companies that are positioning themselves as indie brands.
BN: Tell us about your first fragrance, Tė.
BT: It was a childhood memory of seeing tea in a glass. I always loved the way it sparkled and
looked so refreshing. My first store was Barneys and I am still with them today. A friend was
wearing it and the fragrance buyer for Barneys fell in love with it and asked her what it was. I was in their office the same day. Tė is a beautiful, sophisticated fragrance of green tea, grapefruit celery and bergamot. I am so proud of it. It’s a tribute to the fashionable side of me. I launched it in 1997.
BN: Do all your fragrances represent a glimpse into your life?
BT: Yes, I created them during different life events. In 1999, I was going through some challenges, so I created Mare. One of its main ingredients is sea salt; I believe I was the first to ever use sea salt in fragrance. It was my “safe haven”, a soothing escape in a bottle.
Next, was Vita, which was created in 2002. This was during a period of time when I was feeling joyful. Vita is a special blend of four handpicked teas; that was a first in the fragrance industry. It also contains notes of black currant, plum and lily of the valley.
Element of Surprise represents my personal rejuvenation. It’s my favorite. It is
like walking through a citrus orchard in Sicily. I launched it in 2004. I used white tea notes, Italian lemon, lime and jasmine. My latest fragrance is Element of Desire; Dimbula tea, peony blossom, snowdrop and apricot, express my smoldering, feminine side. It’s my only fragrance that isn’t meant to be unisex.
BN: You have a distinctive packaging; it’s so minimalist.
BT: It reflects my sensibility. I wanted to create a bottle that would tower above the rest, like a skyscraper. My fragrances are all 4.3 oz; that amount was unheard of when I started Creative Universe.
BN: Lots of indie fragrances come and go. Why are your fragrances so timeless?
BT: I keep my blinders on so to speak. I am much focused on creating fragrances that I love and know that others will love. I really believe if you are passionate and create a great product your customer will seek you out.
BN: Are you working on a new fragrance?
BT: I am. It uses a “sweet” tea. I love working with tea based materials because they work well with so many different ingredients. I am not a fan of heavy scents so I will stay with what I love.
BN: Who lives in your “creative universe”.
BT: Men and woman who are very discerning. They like to discover new thing. They seem very adventurous.
BN: Beth, What is something about yourself that might surprise our readers?
BT: I think people would be surprised to know that I have a very dry sense
of humor. I also have flown over the desert in Carefree Arizona in a Hot Air balloon…..
Creative Universe Fragrances by Beth Terry are sold in some of the most beautiful shops in the world. Available at Barneys New York, Maxfield’s, Los Angeles and online at www.beautyexclusive.com.