Isabelle Ramsay-Brackstone: ‘I’m all about constantly being seduced and stimulated by life’s most simple gifts.’ *Photo by Nicola muirhead
Isabelle Ramsay-Brackstone: ‘I’m all about constantly being seduced and stimulated by life’s most simple gifts.’ *Photo by Nicola muirhead

Isabelle Ramsay-Brackstone recently launched her new perfume, Calypso, from the Lili Bermuda collection. She described the fragrance as a “fruity fusion of Bermuda scents”. It took two years to make after many tweaks.

Mrs Ramsay-Brackstone is a mother of three children; Marie-Sophie, 12, Gabrielle, 10 and William, 9.

She is a member of the Bermuda Tourism Board and  helped develop the Bermuda National Tourism Plan.

Her hobbies include playing the violin, something she shares in common with daughter Marie-Sophie. Her daughter Gabrielle is a pianist and son William is learning to play the guitar.

Last fall, her husband Kirby Brackstone died of a heart attack at the age of 43. “This is a year where we are rebuilding our lives, and Calypso is the fragrance of this transition,” Mrs Ramsay-Brackstone told us. 

“There are no words that can explain the deepness of my sorrows. That being said, I have great faith and I know that my husband continues to be with us in spirit.

“I have always been profoundly happy in life, and this continues to be.” 




1. Your earliest memory?

My father’s love for his garden. My father loved the spring and the summer cultivating his roses, peonies, lilacs and many other lovely flowers. I loved going to spend my Saturday mornings with him at the nursery carefully choosing beautiful plants

 

2. What were you like in school?

I was always quite opinionated, did not necessarily ‘fit’ in any group until I went to College where I made friends for life. I loved studying, researching, getting to the bottom of things. I still do today. I wish I had more time.

 

3. Who is your hero/heroine?

Family Hero: My father

Perfume Hero: Jo Malone – perfumer extraordinaire and fantastic role model

Spiritual Hero: Jesus Christ

Musical Hero: Jean-Sebastien Bach

Cartoon Hero: Tintin

Bermuda Hero: Teddy Tucker – the rich history of our shipwrecks which he has revealed.

 

4. Which human trait do you dislike the most?

Being blasé – someone who does not see or feel the beauty of his/her surroundings as simple as they are, whether it is by the fragrance of a flower, the colours of a sunset, or the smile of a child. If someone cannot be sensitive to his/her surroundings, he/she will not be happy around me as I am all about constantly being seduced and stimulated with life’s most simple gifts.

 

5. Human trait you value most in others?

Integrity and humility – Integrity because I need to be able to trust people, and that they will deliver what they promise. Humility because we all have our strengths and weaknesses and I would not expect from one person to be good at everything.

 

6. Which film character would you be?

Audrey Hepburn, wearing Givenchy in the opening scene of Breakfast at Tiffany’s because she is stylish, elegant and witty. I love the nostalgia of that era, and Tiffany is a luxury brand that speaks to me. I love the last scene with the final kiss under the rain and the cat squeezed in her raincoat, it is all so very romantic…

7. When did you last laugh out loud?

Five minutes ago…I laugh out loud all the time, especially when I see something absurd. My daughter Gabrielle is very absurd in her humor and gives me my greatest laughs. I laugh when I create, when I interact with my family, my staff and my clients.

 

8. Do you believe in fate?

Every time I think I have control over a situation, something happens and reminds me that indeed I have very little control over my life. I am not talking about how my fragrances should smell or how I should market them. I am talking about how little control I have over where my life is heading, about the people who come and go into my life, my every day influences, and simply if I will be alive tomorrow.

 

9. Your greatest fear?

That one of my children will get sick. Everything else does not matter very much.  

10. Most embarrassing moment?

I am too embarrassed to talk about these… yes there have been many.

11. Property aside, what’s the most expensive thing you’ve bought?

Lousy everyday purchases are definitely the most expensive things people buy.  Sure it may be just a few dollars, but the value is pathetic… a waste of money.  On the other hand, a great bottle of wine or an extravagant trip are worth every penny because they are quality experiences.

 

12. Your ultimate ambition?

That my children become good citizens, that they get married, have children of their own and have fantastic normal lives.

13. Your most unappealing habit?

I always wear many different perfumes at the same time – I rarely only wear one fragrance at one time. Sometimes it works, other times…hmm…

 

14. Describe yourself in three words

Simple, happy, demanding (of myself and others).

15. Best party you’ve ever been to?

There has been many, as I love to party. I must say, 4th of July at Mid-Ocean in 2008, a few weeks before the big banking collapse in the USA is quite all the way up there. I have never seen so much opulence in one evening. The food, the entertainment, the fireworks and flashy people. It was a great evening…

16. Anyone you’d like to say ‘sorry’ to?

No, I don’t wait to say sorry.

17. Worst job you’ve ever done?

When I was a teenager, at some point I was a night cashier in a car park in downtown Montreal. The job was lousy, but I had my greatest laughs playing cards with the guys.

18. Biggest disappointment?

That there is only 24 hours in a day. That I cannot do everything.

 

19. Biggest regret?

Not having travelled enough with my children and husband before he died suddenly last fall. I hate to say this, but I am trying to catch up. It will never be the same of course, but I recently took my children on a fabulous trip to France and the UK and it was magical. Next spring we are going to Italy. I am not waiting anymore. I try to live for the present as much as possible.

 

20. Closest you’ve ever come to death?

When I launched my last fragrance ‘Calypso’. I never thought I would survive the pressure…

21. Your desert island song?

The prelude from Bach’s Cello Suite No. 1.

 

22. What animal would you be and why?

A bee: hard working, sweet and devoted creatures who only do good to humanity - except when you get in her way and she stings you J

 

23. What do you do if you can’t sleep?

Pray… I take out my rosary and meditate

24. If you had a travel machine, where would you go?

To Paris in the 1920s at the Café Les Deux Magots, smoking a Gauloise and chatting with Ernest Hemingway.

 

25. Your most memorable dream?

Hoping one day that I would live in Bermuda

 

26. Most unpleasant exchange you’ve have had with a person?

I try to forget about these fast, and it works.

 

27. Best advice you have ever taken?

Always make your decisions as if you had a million dollars in your pocket (which I have never had).  Meaning: don’t ever choose the “cheaper” or “easier” option – always go with the BEST option, you cannot afford anything else but the best option – that is true for personal and business decisions.

 

28. If you weren’t a Perfumer, what would you be?

I cannot imagine my life any other way… really… the wind blew me where I am today and I would trust it completely in taking me somewhere else. Anything that uses my talents and passion will make me very happy.

 

29. What do you most dislike about you appearance?

I am short. I wish I was taller….

 

30. What do you like best about your appearance?

I can eat anything I want and I never get fat…

 

31. Does money make you happy?

No, but I will make sure I always have enough. It does not define me, but I hate not getting what I want.

 

32. Which cartoon character is most like you?

‘Belle’ in Beauty and the Beast J Belle is intelligent and she wants to be loved for who she really is. She sees beauty where nobody else does. Belle is independent and happy with who she is.

 

33. Nicest thing anyone has ever said to you?

I love you…

 

34. Define romantic love.

Deep emotional attachment to someone who makes me feel on top of the world. It is a connection that is both physical and cerebral and that transcends what can be seen with the eyes.

 

35. Tell us a joke.

Bermuda is boring.

 

36. Most treasured possession?

My violin.

 

37. A dream location for a home?

Tribe No 1 Paget – my home: full of love, by Hungry Bay with the best neighbours.

 

38. What keeps you up at night?

The logistic of my raw materials and supplies. My purchases for my business come from all around the world and the whole logistics of ordering and receiving keep me up at night. The only thing that keep me up…

 

39. Guilty pleasure?

Lunch at Harry’s with my best friend.

 

40. Name some favourite:

— TV shows: I do not watch TV

— movies: Risky Business
— books: The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
— vacation spots: The Mangroves at Hungry Bay on my paddleboard

 

40. Your proudest achievement?

My children.

 

41. If you were a pigeon, who would you poop on?

Dictators.

 

42. What would you most like to be remembered for?

Someone who loved her country and contributed to its reputation at shining overseas.

 

43. Most important lesson life has taught you?

Be humble – every day is a new day: you are only as good as your last perfume.