Welcome to The Wick & Wax Co. – your backstage pass to the artistry and passion behind Sasha’s luxury candle brand. Join us as we share how it all began, the inspiration behind their signature scents, and a glimpse into future projects. Explore the craft, dedication, and creative process that makes each candle a unique experience. Join this aromatic journey.

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Candlelight Chronicles
Crafting the Essence of The Wick & Wax Co.

Interview with Sasha Olsen.

Welcome to The Wick & Wax Co. – your backstage pass to the artistry and passion behind Sasha’s luxury candle brand. Join us as we share how it all began, the inspiration behind their signature scents, and a glimpse into future projects. Explore the craft, dedication, and creative process that makes each candle a unique experience. Join this aromatic journey.

The Wick & Wax Co. is a brand of luxury, handcrafted candles designed and developed with safety at the forefront, aiming to deliver excellent performance with minimal wastage. Each candle utilises high-quality, natural, and responsibly sourced materials and packaging. The founder, Sasha, has gone to great lengths to master the art of candle making and has created an intriguing range of emotive scents inspired by nature. Sasha handcrafts all her candles in small, controlled batches at her home in Stamford, Lincolnshire.

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How did it all start?

 

The COVID-19 pandemic manifested at a time when I was actively co-running a marketing agency local to where I live in Stamford. As many readers will relate, this time was an interesting period that afforded us time for reflection. For me, it was a time to re-evaluate my work-life balance, which had been stretched to near breaking point. During these uncertain times, and after an initial feeling of dread about the unknown, I finally found a sense of peace and learned a little more about the value of acceptance.

It started with my love of candles. They bring joy to me—the light, the ambience, and the way a fragrance can transport you to a time and a happy place. I already had a small stockpile from various brands and fragrance houses at various price points. During the lockdown periods, I was burning quite a few candles, enjoying myriad scents and trying out new brands. A few things that seemed to be common among many candles were how much wastage there would be after the candle had finished burning, including the very expensive candles. We were also a little alarmed by how much soot and smoke was being given off by some candles, leading to several questions about whether a candle was safe or indeed healthy. After recycling some of the waste candles for reuse, which frustratingly didn’t function very well at all, I became intrigued as to why. I tentatively started to look up the correct way to burn a candle, if indeed there was one, to remedy these issues. Before I knew it, I had fallen into this deep rabbit hole of information about an incredible craft that stretches back centuries.

I started to learn about the different waxes and their properties and provenance, the many types of wicks, and the slightly scary realm of fragrance oils and essential oils. What I had thought would be a reasonably simple process turned out to have a lot more science and technique involved than I had initially imagined. When I emerged from my research, I was ready to face a new challenge. I was soon armed with a testing schedule and a need to try things out for myself to see if I could do any better but with the added desire to create something that would be as natural as possible and use materials sourced in Britain, my home country, not the Far East. The provenance itself would prove to be one of the biggest challenges by far, and still is! Well, that and creating viable fragrance blends.

It seems quite bizarre when I think back that this period would result in the fertilisation of a new business venture. It all started as a simple ‘something to do’ before becoming a real itch that I wanted to scratch!

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The story behind the name

 

I hadn’t long been mulling this over when the idea of The Wick & Wax Co. came to mind. For me, the name was straightforward and quite simply described the core components of a candle. Meaningful to me and other candlemakers because the actual process of getting the right combination of wick and wax is the key to creating a beautiful candle.

Business and brand names are always quite a challenge in this era, since most great names are already taken, and you must think seriously outside of the box to find something suitable. The candle market is extremely crowded, and the sector is growing continuously.

I did consider other ideas, but I just kept coming back to The Wick & Wax Co., and it stuck. I produced the brand assets and applied to register the words and marks as a trademark. Thankfully, after a small bump in the road of the process, the registration was successful.

Where are you based?

 

I live in Stamford in Lincolnshire, with my family, including my husband Richard and my daughter Lola and son George. All my candles are produced by myself in small, controlled batches here at my home premises.

What inspires you?

 

I take inspiration from everything around me. I have a very heightened sense of smell and taste and a strong visual memory. I love architecture and nature, animals, flora, and fauna. Living in the beautiful and historical town of Stamford amidst beautiful countryside is a real privilege since everything that I love is on my doorstep. Long walks through differing landscapes, the changing seasons, the lifecycle of wildlife – it’s all transformative to me and my mood. The differing colours, the levels of light, the smells. It can be calming; it can be uplifting but always mindful. Capturing these sensory benefits in a scent that can be enjoyed in the home is such a real pleasure for me.

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What is your creation process?  

 
With any craft, creating something new from scratch requires experimentation, trial and error, and then endless testing. Candles must comply with British Safety Standards since candles are a fire hazard, and since we are also using fragrance, there is an additional layer of compliance for the use of essential oils and synthetic fragrance oils since some of the compounds are toxic. This may sound alarming, but for candles, fragrances are used in very small doses that are deemed to fall within safe limits for human exposure. I always err on the side of caution and use the lowest percentage of fragrance oils in our product range. Every time I introduce a new fragrance to the range, I go through a period of product adaptation and testing before I can deem the candle to be safe and commercially viable. The testing cycle for a prototype candle can be a matter of several weeks bleeding into months, depending on the density of the fragrance oil. Sometimes if I cannot find a wick to cope with the oil, it gets resigned to room 101, and that can be extremely disappointing, especially after the fragrance has taken time itself to develop and perfect. I maintain a strict regime for testing, and I will fail a candle quite easily if it is not achieving greatness in its performance.
Once I have found what I consider to be a great candle formula that is commercially viable, I will log the recipe and the methodology, taking care to include details such as ambient room temperature during production, temperature of the wax oil during the fragrance mixing process and the pouring process, as well as numerous other factors that need to be specific to ensure a successful batch. Making a batch is more straightforward than the development process but ensuring the correct ambient temperature and replicating the other factors required can be challenging and takes all my focus. Distractions lead to mistakes! I have learned the hard way.
It also really matters what time of year you make your batches – particularly for me working out of my kitchen. Hot summer days are a complete no-go. Cooler more temperate days are ideal. I tend to make most of my stock during the first quarter of the year, topping up as and when required. The biggest test of my patience is the process of labelling and packaging. This requires many hours in a seated position undertaking repetitive actions! This is now known to be the time when I get to binge-watch TV series and helps me push through! Depending on the size of the batch this can take a minimum of several hours or even days, and the nights are long!
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What makes you and your brand so unique?

 

Probably my personality traits – I’m a total perfectionist, and I have an analytical mind – constantly crackling away. I drive myself insane at times, but when I hyperfocus during the research and development phases of a product, I know that these traits are helping me to produce something special. I am tireless in my quest to produce something that performs well and looks great. I apply that to much of my life, be it candle-making, marketing, designing, cleaning the house or even reupholstering the sofa! Whatever the need requires. Of course, this can drive everybody else insane around me!

I am passionate about my candles and indeed anything else that I put my hand to, I have put a great deal of blood, sweat and tears into each candle type and in sourcing or blending my fragrances, and it also helps to have a good nose! I set out to create candles that perform beautifully and cleanly, and I feel that I am achieving that, but I continuously look for ways to improve – that’s just part of who I am. The cycle never ends…

What is your next project?

 

I am finalising my research into making the traditional method, cold process soap, since it has long been a desire of mine to banish the need for plastic bottles filled with liquid soap from our world! I am excited about the history and origins of Castille and Bastille soaps that are made using Olive oil, and the opportunity to start experimenting with that and many other gorgeous oils with incredible properties to help different skin types. I will be undertaking the development phase in the coming weeks and months which will keep me extremely busy during the remainder of Winter into Spring. If all goes well and I am happy with the testing outcomes, then I will seek to launch later next year and well in time for the Country Living events that I plan to exhibit at.

What are your plans for the next 12 months?

 

Building on my Soap project whilst also sourcing some beautiful locally handcrafted ceramic soap dishes and wax melt burners to complement my product range. I have also recently been accepted to join the Country Living Artisans programme and will be setting up my products on their designated marketplace – this is something that I am very excited about.

Also, I can’t underestimate the amount of behind-the-scenes work that I will be putting into the marketing and administrative side of the business, including keeping my website up to date and looking fresh, and managing the social media – which admittedly could use more of my attention! I am desperate to get a blog up and running since I love writing about all of the amazing experiences that I have while candle making – but this will probably have to wait until later on in 2024. For now, I will be making sure that my cashflow forecast is in order, to accommodate the activities for 2024, especially while I am booking events into my calendar, which can be very expensive, particularly for a small business like my own. I like to combine a few large events with myriad local and regional events where the values align with promoting small, local businesses and artisans that put sustainability and provenance first and foremost. So far, I can reveal that I will be attending the RHS Hampton Court Garden Festival in July, as well as one of my personal favourites, the Defender Burghley Horse Trials where you will find me in the Country Living marquee – of course! Other events are still yet to be confirmed, but you can find out more by visiting The Wick & Wax Co. website in the New Year.

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What is your biggest achievement?

 

Learning to accept mistakes and failures is an important part of the process of success.

What is your best-selling product line?

 

Hands down, it is the 225g Net, Soy scented candles, which represent excellent quality and value for money. The most popular scents for 2023 have included Noel, our festive candle, as well as Botanical; Tuscany; Valencian Orange; Pomegranate Rose With Amber; Plum With Rhubarb; and After The Rain from the core year-round collection.

I have a lovely customer who is a little in love with the ‘Plum With Rhubarb’ scent and recently ordered several in every size and format to keep her going for the next year! That’s candle dedication.

What do you love about the Country Living Fairs?

 

For me, the whole Country Living brand reflects my brand values. I am a reader, and I relate to the target audience and enjoy the content that the magazine produces. Naturally, the fairs are an extension of the brand and put a lot of effort into creating the right experience for their customers. I feel at home in the Country Living marquee at the Burghley Horse Trials in Stamford as equally as I do in the Business Design Centre in London for the Christmas Fair. I love the atmosphere – it is energetic and fun, and things tend to run smoothly, which is no mean feat.

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Your three top tips for crafters and makers…

 
  1. Try not to be too hard on yourself.
    I am a perfectionist and extremely self-critical. While this trait helps me to achieve a high standard of the product, it can also make a process a little arduous at times. I try to remember to be kinder to myself and remember that mistakes and failures are the process for success.
  2. Don’t cut corners.
    Take the research and development process very seriously; don’t try to cut corners to get results. The only way you can truly know and understand your product is to become deeply familiar with the components that you use, their provenance, their characteristics and behavior. Allow yourself the time to experiment. Make as many mistakes as you dare! Learn from them and become an expert. The successes will be more enjoyable, and before long, the successes will become the norm. That’s when you know you have mastered your craft.
  3. Allow for the unexpected.
    Always allow flexibility to be creative and to have a ‘play’ with no particular plan in mind. And sometimes, even what you consider to be a mistake can lead to innovation. Challenges and technical complexities in a process are the most interesting part for me and should never be rushed; it’s what you learn during this period that can help you to achieve your point of difference and make you stand out.

Any advice for fledgling businesses…

 
Having worked in a marketing agency environment helping other businesses to grow, and also running other businesses, I am lucky that I could approach this venture with my eyes partially open, and bring a useful skillset to play. However, there are always new things to learn, and many other things that can be tricky to negotiate during the early stages of setting up a business, and careful planning can help to overcome these obstacles. Always put yourself in a position of strength by doing your research!
Have time and patience – the patience to learn, the patience to fail, and the patience to pick yourself up and keep going. All of which takes time. Believe in yourself, it’s a lonely world running your own business. Help to counteract the loneliness by making mutual friendships with other crafters and joining forums where you can openly discuss your craft and trade ideas. This will help you to build the context of your product, your industry, and your confidence in your abilities. Put aside cash reserves – you will need good quality equipment, ingredients, and a fund for marketing so that you can find the right customers. Research the regulatory landscape that relates to your product – make sure that you dot the I’s and cross the t’s and never cut corners! Make sure to have the right level of business insurance in place – cover your back. Sometimes things happen that you can’t control, be prepared for it.
Lastly – Enjoy your craft! The more you enjoy it, the better your product will become and customer loyalty will follow.

More information on The Wick and Wax Co. can be found here.

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