Gulchekhra-begim Makhmudova is one of the most important women in Uzbekistan and the CIS countries in the field of culture, beauty and perfume. She started in 1985 as a producer of the international tours for Uzbek creatives – InterDay of Culture, then ran her own BEGIM World with luxury perfume and cosmetics brands distributor in Uzbekistan in 1990, and now she is a successful businesswoman, writer, cultural activist promoting Renew Silk Road around the world and the Eurasian Creative Guild Guardian.

OCA: How did you come to work in such an amazing field as perfumery?
Gulchekhra-begim Makhmudova:
When I was a little girl, I accidentally broke a bottle of my grandmother’s Guerlain perfume. My grandmother was very upset and I cried with her, so I hugged her and said, “Don’t cry, please, when I grow up, I’ll give you a car full of perfumes! And in 1990, when the great couturier Yves Saint Laurent offered me a choice of many directions to become his official representative in Uzbekistan, I chose perfume. Then, of course, other brands began to contact me. My grandmother lived to be 102, and I kept my promise by giving her a car full of perfumes.

OCA: You produce your own BEGIM brand perfume in France, and it is not just about aesthetic pleasure or self-expression. It’s also about the knowledge of the great treasures of the Silk Road. What makes it so unique and sophisticated?
Story-perfume is a perfume that reveals the great treasures of world civilisations. That is very important. For me, it is about history and values, the history of culture. It includes the KohiNur diamond, which still shines in the crown of the United Kingdom, and the Temur ruby and many others. There are so many adventures. And for me, it’s deeply connected to the culture itself, like practices and ingredients. The team and I are looking for the very rare ingredients that our ancestors used thousands of years ago to heal pain, to bring happiness, to give peace or courage, and to inspire the great achievements of both ordinary warriors and great emirs. For some plants you have to go as far as the plateau of Machu Picchu because they grow nowhere else in the world. This is how my collection of paired perfumes from the ‘Begim Perfumes – Treasure Collection’ came about, including ‘Samarkand Spirit’, ‘Bukhara Spirit’, ‘Ruby of Temur’, ‘KohiNur Diamond’ and ‘Silk Road’.

OCA: You’re a successful businesswoman, running a big brand, developing perfumes and beauty products. And at the same time you’re writing books. How did the idea of becoming a writer come into your life?
I can’t help it. For me, there are books, perfumes and stones. When I work with perfumes, I understand that they are scents from the depths of our history. They open and refract in very different ways. For me, this is a fairy tale, so I write fairy tales, and mystery, adventure and romance, so I write detectives. Fragrances affect the subconscious very deeply, they create a strong reaction, starting with emotions and ending with new ideas and fantasies. I have a scientific education as an art critic and theatre expert with knowledge of the English language, I have completed international UN courses, and this has also inspired me to write a trilogy of detective novels about the historical treasures of the East “Flask of Crystal Hookah”, as well as four books of fairy tales for children “Adventures Of The Spirit Of Time” (journey along the Great Caravan and Maritime Silk Road).

OCA: What is your vision of your creative work as an author?
I would like to see the implementation of my ideas in the format of a large-scale immersive edutainment (education + entertainment) show. An edutainment theme park provides both the knowledge and the pleasure necessary for the growth of future generations. For me, as a mother and grandmother, it is very important that children know their history, their roots, and that they move forward to progress and peace. That is why I am now actively working on the SILKROADLAND project – an edutainment park similar to Disneyland but built around the oriental characters of the Great Silk Road. A memorandum on the project was signed in Qatar in February. Many countries have already shown great interest, and the project has attracted the largest company ‘Voltere by Egis’ (France) – the main consultants-managers of world-famous theme parks – who have drawn up the business plan and visualisation of SILKROADLAND. But that is only part of the plan. As with Disneyland, I also want to bring my characters to life, make animated films based on my children’s books and am now in talks with possible partners in various countries.

OCA: What helps you to be successful? What advice would you give?
First of all, every woman has to be in love. I even wrote a song for one of my anniversaries – ‘Put your love in a baby’s heart’, so that when they grow up they can share it with others. Always stay curious, try to know everything. Sometimes I get excited about all sorts of questions, like who was the first person to dig the Egyptian pyramids. It seems like but why do I need that? But I learned that Sheikh al-Mamun was the first to excavate the Egyptian pyramids and found a magical treasure, and that inspired me for another project I’m working on. Another important thing is courage. The ability to go forward with an open heart and give happiness to the people around you and to future generations is one of the most important qualities necessary to achieve success in life… My motto is AMORE-BONTE-CULTURE-BEAUTE!