Tonia Walker, the founder of the beautiful natural fragrance label IME shares how a breakdown and a three-month holiday in Europe led her to embrace her inner beauty and passion for life.

When do you feel wild? What makes you feel alive?

Anything that lets my spirit come alive, releasing all the weight that can weigh me down. Getting outdoors into nature. Taking a swim in the ocean. Hearing my kids laugh. It’s the little things.

When and what inspired you to create IME natural perfumes?

I had a highly demanding job in the TV industry and I had just finished working on a production. I felt deflated and uninspired. My husband and I had a three-month European holiday of a lifetime planned, and it was. The idea for IME was born when we were walking through the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. I realised that all the beautiful paintings on the walls were of women that had itty-bitty titties, potbellies and curvy hips — these were the muses for the most famous painters of all time. I wanted women (and myself) to embrace their beauty and passion for life and let their inner muse run wild. I thought the best way to do that was to inspire a change. A change in mood can instantly make a change in your thoughts, which can then make a change in your actions. Fragrance was the most logical way of making this happen as the sense of smell is the only sense directly linked to the brain (via the olfactory nerve) and the part of the brain responsible for our memories and emotions.

Fast forward five years to 2012, a period that included burnout, a nervous breakdown and leaving TV. I became a natural therapist/reflexologist and we left the pressures of Sydney for the beautiful shores of Woononain the northern suburbs of Wollongong. What quickly followed was the birth of my son Alfie and the re-ignition of my IME natural perfume business.

What is your favourite perfume for …

Autumn: erato [naughty] is warm, nurturing and sexy

Relaxation: kalliope [driven], which settles my nerves, or terpsichore [expressive], as it’s calming

Energy: ourania [intuitive] is the ultimate pick-me-up, or euterpe [cool] because it’s fun!

Romance: kleio [elegant] is classy and classic

What are some of the ways IME gives back to the planet?

In my business, I aim to choose a better option whenever possible, such as paper over plastic, natural over synthetic and local over offshore. This is not always easy when you are trying to manufacture nine fragrances at once. Some compromises have had to be made, but overall we strive to keep things simple, local, natural, genuine and real. If something doesn’t feel right, generally, I will search for a better option until it does (which usually ends up costing a little more, but I have peace of mind I’ve made the right choice). I am a conscious consumer and so I treat my business with a conscience, too. I’m really proud of our most recent launch — our biodegradable, eco-friendly, solid stick perfume collection, which is a more sustainable way to apply your perfume and reap all the same beautiful benefits from the botanics.

What does a typical day look like for you?

A juggle between kids, work, life, laughter, overwhelm and love. I always try to balance my work with lots of rest and play … and wine time!

What is your guilty pleasure?

Chocolate and red wine (preferably preservative-free). Honestly, it would be my last meal on Earth.

Any beauty secrets you swear by?

I’m pretty low maintenance but a medi-spa facial once a month to make up for the lack of effort in between has become a favourite. Also, using a body oil helps extend the life of fragrance on your skin.

What’s next for you personally?

I’d like to work less and enjoy life more. I’m definitely going to do more of that in 2021. Oh, and I’d love to take some hip-hop dancing classes!

What’s next for IME?

Hopefully, we reach more amazing customers locally and internationally. In 2020, we achieved a lot. We launched the solid perfume sticks, gave terpsichore [expressive] a scent makeover and also went through a rebrand.

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