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Tiffany Griffin, PhD: Illuminating Black Brilliance

Estimated Read Time:
2 minutes

Her scents are intended to awaken the senses. Here's what she thinks is beautiful about her Durham-grown story.

Posted By Ashley Strahm on Feb 17, 2020

“I moved to Durham in 2009 for my postdoc at UNC — and I very quickly fell in love with the community. Durham is big enough that there’s a ton going on ... but it’s small enough that the community is very tight-knit.

“I moved in 2011 and came back in 2018, and I would go into some of my favorite restaurants and bars and the owner would say, ‘oh, I haven’t seen you in a while!’ and would have this facial recognition, because Durham really is a community. It’s very soulful, it’s very radiant, it’s a little gritty — which I appreciate — I think it gives the city its groundedness, and makes people very open, approachable, and authentic. Those are the things that I think make Durham beautiful.”

Tiffany Griffin

“When I was coming up with both the Durham and NorthStar scent, it was kind of a multipronged process. First: what is the city known for? Durham’s known for tobacco, for instance. Also, what do I want to communicate from? In psychology we would say an affective, or emotional standpoint. So, when I was coming up with the Durham scent, I wanted to people to feel welcome, to have that history of the tobacco, but not tobacco as this carcinogen in the way we think about it now.

"I went kind of deep into this research and actually, tobacco as a plant is very sacred and spiritual to many communities and cultures. With additives it becomes extremely harmful, but in its purest form, it actually isn’t as harmful as the image we have today conjures up. I did research. I went to go speak with one of the only black, organic tobacco farmers in the state, Mr. Stanley Hughes, who’s about an hour away. I bought tobacco from him, and it was a really beautiful experience to be able to learn a little bit about the complexity and the origins of tobacco, prior to it being appropriated and made toxic. That’s an important story to be able to tell through this candle. I added notes of cotton as a nod to the South writ large, not just North Carolina ... and for that grittiness that I really love about Durham, I brought in those whiskey notes. I moved here, I didn’t know anyone... but I sat in a bar, and met many people in Durham over a whiskey.”

Tiffany Griffin

Tiffany Griffin, PhD, was interviewed and photographed with her candles at NorthStar Church of the Arts.

Bright Black Candles

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NorthStar Church of the Arts


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About the Author

Ashley Strahm

Jersey roots, Durham fruits. Lover of all things edible, egalitarian and true. Find me clad in Birkenstocks, seeking Bull City Beautiful stories by trail, wheel and spoke.