How a busy mum of two launched her own candle company
PUBLISHED: 00:00 05 June 2018
From Harrods to hand-crafted candles - how a West Yorkshire maker is enjoying the sweet smell of success
Alex Hall could be accused of burning the candle at both ends. The super-busy mum-of-two has a time-consuming corporate job, a hectic social life and a fledgling business that’s already generating a lot of retail heat despite only launching at the end of 2017. She created The Little Yorkshire Candle Company as a way of indulging her passion for creative crafts in her rare, and therefore precious, odd hours of me-time. The resulting collection of 100 per cent natural candles, made with coconut, soy and beeswax scented with essential oils and plant extracts, has been flying off the shelves ever since.
Alex, originally from Leeds and now based in Church Fenton, has always had a strong craft and design impulse. She began working at Harrods as a retail trainee. ‘It taught me a great deal about how to ensure customers always have a fully rounded experience,’ she said. She gained invaluable experience in a number of departments, including bridalwear, soft furnishings, leather accessories and menswear.
Alex stayed at the Knightsbridge store for three years, but knew London wasn’t her forever home. ‘The difference between my home county and London was startling, and I knew which appealed to me more,’ she said. ‘When I came back home to Yorkshire for a visit, I knew I wanted to stay.’
Having moved back to West Yorkshire to take up a busy corporate sector role, mainly handling government contracts, Alex began seeking out creative outlets as a means of chilling out after a hectic day.
She began making her own cards and candles, which she occasionally sold on a stall in Leeds’ Dark Arches. ‘It wasn’t a business as such, it was just somewhere to sell the things I’d made,’ she said. ‘I tried out all sorts of crafts, but not with a business in mind; just for me. I’ve always had quite a self-indulgent attitude to making. Whatever I make, I really want to keep.
‘For me, making candles was – and still is – a great way to relax. I love the quiet, methodical process – it’s very therapeutic – and the feel of the wax and the scents of the essential oils. It always feels so magical when the liquid wax transforms into a beautiful, solid candle. It’s ridiculously enjoyable. I can lock myself away and enjoy some real peace and solace.’
Alex’s candles are specifically created to have a therapeutic effect. They are designed to deal with everyday stresses and strains. This dual-purpose element of their design began very close to home.
‘My mum had a cough, so I made her a candle that would relieve it by making her feel calm,’ Alex explained. ‘And my son struggled to sleep, so I made him a candle that we’d burn in the living room before bedtime so he’d completely relax.
‘My candles engage with your nose, but they also engage with your mind as well. If you need uplifting, there’s a candle for that. Similarly, if you need a creative boost while you’re working or you need to chill out at the end of long day, there’s a candle for that too.’
Alex has always had a particularly keen sense of smell; something she puts to good use in creating her own bespoke blends of essential oils for her candle range. She favours fresh, green scents for herself, but has developed a range that has something for everyone, whether they prefer zesty, floral or rich musky aromas.
Her white pot candles tend to be fresh and uplifting, while the grey pots are more calming and sensual. They are designed to be burned singly or in tandem to create a layering effect for an even more wonderfully well-rounded experience.
‘Some candles can be over-powering; they take over a room,’ she said. ‘But not mine. I believe a candle should be like relaxing ambient music; it shouldn’t be like having a full orchestra in your living room.’
After a tiring day at work – she still works full-time in her corporate role – Alex relaxes in her home studio creating new botanical blends, which are then made up by specialists, and melting wax for up to 100 candles at a time.
‘Making them by hand is my favourite bit!’ she said. ‘I can lock myself away in my studio and play. I can’t imagine not being hands-on.’ She also took a hands-on approach to the packaging concept for her candle range, ensuring that every aspect emphasised the botanicals at the heart of her work.
‘I had a very clear idea of what I wanted the branding to look like and made many, many Pinterest boards, but I couldn’t find the right person to create the artwork,’ she said. ‘Then, I was chatting in my hairdressers one day when someone suggested I approach Sarah Relf at The Magpie’s Cabinet in York. She listened to my ideas, we both created and shared Pinterest boards, and it soon became clear we were on the same page.
The packaging is a real work of art and, when you open the box, there’s a cheeky nod to Alex’s home county in the form of a few words of wisdom from Yorkshire Prose, the pen name for dialect poet Ben Taylor. ‘People enjoy things that are locally made and, in my experience, Yorkshire-made products are definitely premium products,’ said Alex.
She’s already adding to the range with travel candles and diffusers and is working on a Yorkshire scent that will be ‘clean and fresh like a day out on the moors’.
For more details, visit thelittleyorkshirecandlecompany.co.uk