Candle maker Rachel Vosper talks about her long-term relationship with candles that took her from a beach in Barbados to a street in Belgravia. Interview by Cally Squires
Twenty five years ago, I met a candle maker on a beach in Barbados. The following day, I visited the studio to assist and ended up falling in love at first pour, eventually buying the company. I love the creative process involved and working with lots of wonderful people – I am so fortunate that many of my clients are now great friends.
All my candles are hand poured in my workshop on Kinnerton Street. I use traditional methods which involve a three-part pouring process. This ensures all my candles are deliciously scented and burn evenly. The wax I use is a natural beeswax blend, and I have worked with the same suppliers for many years now. I chose them because of their high quality and, in most cases, because they are British companies. I think it is so important to support both UK companies and the environment as much as possible.
Consumers are now much more socially conscious about their purchases. One of our unique offers is my refill service, which means we not only refill my full range of vessels, but I can pretty much transform anything a client brings in, into a beautiful candle. I think I have filled everything over the years – ranging from beautiful Lalique crystal and Murano glass pieces to vintage tea cups and clients’ homemade ceramic creations. One of the most unusual has to be a set of tea cups which were moulded onto wine glass stems. Whilst we are on lockdown and spending more time at home, it is a great excuse to rummage through your cupboards and find long-lost pieces for me to fill.
There are eight signature scents in the library at any one time, and I usually interchange them depending on the season. However I do still hold the full library, as some clients have remained faithful to their old favourites for years.
Choisya is my own signature scent, and it has gained rather a cult following over the years. Some clients are so obsessed with it that they refuse to even try anything else. But I do also love Scent 77, which is the newest scent in the library and was created for a VIP.
Creating bespoke blends, whether it's for someone's home, wedding or new business venture, is my favourite part of the business. Last year, a collaboration with Virgin Atlantic resulted in AIR, a bespoke fragrance comprising essential oils from every continent that the airline flies to. I have also been working with the Soho House group to create for its beach, city and country houses globally.
As soon as social distancing rules are relaxed, we’ll be doing our classes again, which are very informal and fun two-hour sessions. Clients are invited to bring a group of up to eight people and they will learn a bit about the history of traditional candle making, bond over a glass of champagne and make their own candle to take home.
For now, our online shop remains open and, for those living locally, the candle bar remains open, so you can drop off your vessels outside the shop, and I can refill them for you. As we are all staying home, my clients are getting through their candles quicker than ever.
69 Kinnerton Street, 020 7235 9666. rachelvosper.com
Read more about Belgravia here.