London with Particle Goods started making candles in 2017 during a creative slump. She was fascinated by scent's link to memories and emotions, so she decided to capture that by adding custom blends to soy wax. She now sells her products online and in stores. Over the next month, London will be sharing her creative energy and soy wax expertise with you! She designed several candle projects for Bramble Berry and she'll be featured in upcoming videos. London is also collaborating with our creative team to bring you even more projects in the future. Stay tuned for more!
How long have you been making candles and how did you get started?
I started making candles in early 2017 during a particularly rough creative slump. I decided to take a sabbatical from screen-printing and textile design, and I could feel that a shift of some kind was on the horizon. I was using candles in my morning meditation practice, but due to sinus issues, I was extremely sensitive to scented products. I wanted to have control over the quality of ingredients and the fragrance itself, so I read whatever I could find and started experimenting on my own. I was fascinated by scent’s link to memory and emotion, and found that I was drawn to scents that captured personal nostalgia. All of the fragrances I create are inspired by a youth spent exploring the wilds of Utah, Washington, and Idaho.
When did you start selling your candles?
I started selling candles in Dec. 2017 through one of my favorite Seattle boutiques, Velouria. Velouria had carried my textile work for a few years. Their shop was around the corner from my old studio, so a fast friendship formed. They offered to pilot the candle line in their store for the holidays before I had really formed a brand identity, and this was an excellent way to test the market and get good feedback. After about 6 months, it was obvious the demand was there, and I began selling at small shows and expanding the line. I spent the next several months working on building a business plan, and in Aug. 2018, Particle became my full-time job.
What’s your favorite type of candle to make?
I’m very inspired by minimalist design and often think about the utility of a piece as well as the aesthetics. Our core line of candles feature simple, undyed soy wax in clear jars, but our travel tins are a little more playful. I hand draw each pattern on paper first with Japanese sumi ink and then digitize and arrange it. Each pattern helps elevate the inspiration behind the scent. Mesa, for example, was a scent created to capture my earliest memories of the red rock desert in southern Utah, and the pattern was inspired by markings on pottery and clay artifacts recovered from that area. Some of the patterns are also a crossover from my previous textile design work.
Why do you prefer soy wax?
When I started Particle, I was still working my part-time gig at Theo Chocolate, and through my years there I gained a lot of insight on sustainable sourcing. Knowing where ingredients come from and how they impact social and environmental climates is very important to me. I was drawn to soy wax because it’s a renewable source, unlike paraffin, and didn’t seem as fraught with environmental issues as palm wax. I wanted something that wouldn’t be irritating to breathe, as I had experienced chronic sinusitis for years and was still recovering. Soy wax is readily available, easy to work with, and natural.
What inspires you to create?
My creativity is driven by a deep desire for connection. To nature and landscape, and to my community. This past fall, I worked on compiling a cookbook that included my own recipes and some favorites from friends as a Christmas gift for our loved ones. My goal is to make and use meaningful objects that enhance every day life. I think candles are the perfect combination of functional, meaningful, and beautiful.
What advice would you give to makers who want to sell candles?
Be patient, and test, test, test! Candle making on a large scale requires consistency, so you need to invest the time to figure out your perfect materials and procedures. Keep a log of your recipes, temperatures, and any environmental factors so you can narrow in on what works best for you and develop a process.
What is your favorite Bramble Berry product and why?
I use fragrance oils the most, so those are my favorite! But I also love BB’s mango butter and beeswax pastilles, which my husband uses to make his own beard balm.
Tell us something unusual or unique about yourself!
My work experience is a pretty unique path. I’ve worked in loss prevention detaining shoplifters and conducting audits, managed a Waldenbooks and a Paper Source, worked as an inventory specialist and a tour guide at a chocolate factory, and ran a successful textile brand for several years before ending up here. This past year, I completed my base certifications to be a victim advocate and I plan to work with survivors of domestic violence. I am perpetually interested in learning new skills, and each job has helped me create a well-rounded business that feels aligned with my skills and values.
What are some of your other hobbies and interests?
Cooking, home decor, all things plants!
Have you ever experienced a candle fail? How did you work through it, and what did you learn?
There have been many fails, from issues with frosting and wet spots to wicking issues and more than few bad scent mixes. I think I’ve encountered them all! For aesthetic issues like frosting and wet spots, I experimented with temperature and reached out to the manufacturer. Because my glass containers are screen-printed, the wax manufacturer recommended that I run them through the dishwasher to remove any grease or residue leftover from the printer. Doing that greatly improved the glass adhesion.
What do you love most about creating candles?
Candles have this beautiful sense of intention and connection. We use candles as part of our daily rituals, our forms of worship, to mark moments of celebration and memorial, and to uplift our moods and spaces. They represent unity and abundance, and provide an opportunity for connective experiences. I’m really interested in the way scent can root us deeply to a sense of time and place. When someone picks up a candle and there’s an immediate and visceral look of recognition on their face, that’s my favorite moment. Sharing our scent stories can be powerful and emotional, and I think it draws us out of ourselves.
All photos courtesy of Particle Goods.