With fall being finally here, I thought that this was the perfect time to share with you a service and product I’m really excited about. I’ve been following Lesley behind Essence + Alchemy for a while now and love the design and universe of her candles. Lesley’s candle making studio is based in Sheffield in the UK. That’s where she gets her inspiration.
She recently launched a service I found brilliant. A candle refill service. As she put it: “E+A Candle Club is a monthly candle refill subscription service where you can enjoy your favorite scents without having to worry about a growing collection of candle containers. You choose which scents you receive and if you change your mind during your subscription, you can change your scents, it is that easy”. I’ve always found kind of annoying to have to throw away candle containers. So this service really resonates with me. Hence I took the opportunity to ask her a few questions about her passion, business and as usual her favorite online shopping addresses.
Candle Making: Q&A with Lesley from Essence + Alchemy:
1. How did you become a candle maker in the first place? (what were you doing before that…)
Living in an old 1860 house, I needed an outlet from all the renovations. So I started to make candles. At first, it was more of a hobby but it slowly became an obsession. Making the best and most eco-friendly candles I could with quality, natural materials was soon all I could think about. I started Essence + Alchemy alongside my career as a self-employed environmental consultant. It was hard work because I was often traveling and away overnight. I managed to do both for around 2 years before taking E+A full-time.
I’ve used essential oils for their well-being properties since I was a teenager. Thus, it was only natural to me to employ them in candle blends. I started to make candles in my kitchen and eventually, I decided it was my true passion and time to launch a new venture. That’s how E+A was born. The intrinsic idea behind E+A is to bring together the natural scent and energy of plants (essence) + my scientific and environmental background (alchemy).
2. What have been some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced since starting your own business?
Definitely sourcing packaging and raw materials. Finding British manufacturers that will work with small business and are flexible on minimum order quantities. It took me 3 to 4 months of ringing around to find my glassmaker.
3. Where and how are made your candles?
I have a laboratory in the garden of my home. It’s equipped with wax melters and measuring equipment. Candles are made with rapeseed wax and pure essential oils. I have my signature scents which I pre-blend so they are ready to measure out and add to the wax for pouring into containers.
4. How do you create your scents?
When it comes to creating scents, I only use pure essential oils. Sometimes I start off with an idea, a name of a scent or a particular essential oil I’d like to work with. I use various formulating techniques like considering the top, middle and base notes of the oils but also their types such as fruity, herbal, floral, woody etc…
There’s a lot of trial and error but in the end, it’s the alchemy of my ideas for the scent and the natural essences coming together. That’s how I like to think of it anyway!
For even more candle love: 9 of the Best Scented Candles Your House is Lacking Right Now
5. What’s the « creative » process behind it?
My creative process is strongly influenced by the theories of alchemy. They are based on the belief that in nature there are four basic elements; air, fire, water and earth and that with the right combination, any substance could be formed, including precious metals, namely gold and healing elixirs. I wanted to draw on this idea and create well-being products that use natural essences and also symbolize each of the elements. Candles represent fire, aroma mists water and incense is air. The label also takes on the associated triangular alchemical symbols used for the different elements.
6. How would you describe your universe and mission?
Everyone in my life. My husband, family, friends, and my Border Collie Jack, I would have no universe without them. My mission in life is the same as in business, to respect people and the planet.
7. Can you tell me a little bit more about your new refill service? (which is such a brilliant idea by the way)
Thank you. Yes, I developed physical candle refills for large, small candle beakers and tea-lights. The idea came from my own frustration of having lots of candle containers in the house and running out of ideas to repurpose. Essence + Alchemy candles beakers are handblown and designed to be reused. So when customers have finished burning their candle, they can wash out any residues with warm soapy water and put a refill back into it.
This way no more of these beautiful containers are going to the recycling bin! Refills are available to buy on their own or customers can join the E+A Candle Club. This Club is a subscription service where a refill is sent out to you every month.
Lesley’s online finds
8. What’s your favorite online shop and why?
The Future Kept, Really Well Made, Lewes Map and The Plant Room, to name a few! They all sell beautiful products including Essence + Alchemy candles so I’m very lucky to be stocked in some of my favorites. They all are very different but have great aesthetics and ethos, all selling unique, beautiful and useful objects.
9. What is (are) your favorite Instagram account(s) to follow?
For beautiful photography and content, I really love Nina @nina_nixon , Jane @teawithruby, Jeska @lobsterandswan and for sustainable and slow living Jen @jenlittlebirdie and Racheal @seth.style. I adore cat accounts, especially @hugoandcoconut
10. What’s your most treasured online shopping find?
Most treasured, that’s hard, I don’t think I can answer that. I adore every handmade item I have bought online including ceramics from Kira Ni and Pippa Wilcox, illustrations from Agnes at We are Stardust. I’ve also bought a few second-hand pieces of furniture online and love all of those too.
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