All Roads Lead to Roads

Roads Founder and Creative Director Danielle Ryan on how to create a personal atmosphere with perfume.

by Wellbeing Editor Jamie Rosen

Growing up in Ireland, Sri Lanka and Nigeria, Danielle Ryan always thought she would be an actress. She trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts and performed for years, but her father always questioned why she had to leave Ireland, with its rich literary traditions, to put on a British accent in London to study theater. It led her to establish an Irish drama school, the Lir Academy (Paul Mescal is a graduate), in collaboration with Trinity College Dublin, not long after he died.

“There is so much history with the schools in the UK,” she says. “With the Lir, we had an opportunity to experiment and create something new.” That meant immersive theater experiences that played with scent released at pivotal moments during a show. “We tested it a few times with the smell of the forest, or food during a breakfast scene,” she says. “The audience didn’t realize the scent was coming through, but they were more connected to what they were watching.” 

That led Ryan, as she puts it, down the perfume rabbit hole. “I liked the idea that you could create an atmosphere with scent,” she says. “Scenting a theater is hard but what if you could create a personal atmosphere that does something for you? Makes you feel lifted or more sexy or something you are connected to.”

Personal atmosphere is exactly what she has created with Roads, a luxury perfume line made for people who don’t want to smell like everybody else. Each scent is made with recycled glass and plastic, and an oak tree is planted in Ireland for every product sold. The collection is not meant to speak to any particular age group or gender, but instead captures a mood or a place, often stemming from experiences in Ryan’s life. This Weekend is a cool and anticipatory perfume with glamorous rose, jasmine and tuberose, while Unsaid is a peach flower and patchouli that’s all about the ways we communicate without words. Big Sky is a breezy oud, while Harmattan is a moody, mysterious mossy musk that is based on a wind that takes sand from the Sahara to the Amazon. 

Some, like Cloud Nine, are inspired by a fleeting moment in time. It is a soft and clean vanilla that recalls Ryan’s young motherhood. “It’s about this moment, when my children were small, and realizing that they weren’t going to stay like this for long,” she says. “I wanted to preserve that simple moment of pure happiness and contentment.” 

Discover + Shop Roads online and at our galleries.