Read on to find out about all things candles, the testing process, and everything in between.
Rain & Wild began as a way to make a candle that didn’t cost the Earth. I was never going to do this if I couldn't be sure that somewhere in the supply chain, a rainforest wasn't being uprooted to plant crops. I’ve learned an incredible amount, and I’m always researching ways to improve my sustainability and reduce my carbon footprint.
My latest venture is in refilling candles. Still in the early testing stages of this, but I have high hopes it'll develop into a bigger part of the business!
Why candles? How did you develop your candle-making skills?
Candle making started as a passion project but it quickly took over my life (and the kitchen). I think if I had created the perfect candle on my first attempt, I would have set things aside and moved on. Luckily my first candle was a disaster - it didn’t even stay lit.
As a challenge, candles tick all the boxes for me. I love how scientific you need to be - documenting even the tiniest changes. The testing process can be exhaustive and frustrating, but so worth it when you finally get it right.
How do you develop your scents? Where do you take inspiration from?
I’ve always been a bit obsessive about scents - I love gardening and being in the outdoors so I take huge inspiration from there. My Moments collection of candles are all inspired by real moments - there’s a story to them, and I hope that comes across or people can catch a sense of that when they light the candles.
I rarely take pictures of a place I visit, but I always seem to memorise what a place smells like. Scents have this amazing ability to tap into a memory and instantly transport you. They’re incredibly powerful. I also maintain a sense of smell in my dreams, and if you ever want an exercise in futility, try to recreate a scent you caught for a brief second while asleep!
Can you tell me a little bit about the oils you use? Are they ethically produced?
I use premium, cruelty-free fragrance oils. I spent a lot of time researching this aspect of candle-making, and really delved into the science of it - it’s truly fascinating. I love that the oils I use are specifically designed (and safety tested) for use in candles.
These oils are extremely well-regulated in the EU, and they’re also safe to burn around pets (apart from birds - but you shouldn't use ANY scented products or perfume around birds because they're super sensitive). That gives me great peace of mind.
Where does the scientific testing come into play? Is that for the wax mixture or balancing the amount of wax with oil?
Yes, it's all about the melting/mixing/pouring/setting temperatures, as well as the viscosity and ratios of wax to oil. You have to take into account the properties of the various wicks too as some types will perform better with certain wax/oil combinations. There's a huge amount of variables to get 'right' although that's a subjective term in and of itself! I aim to create the slowest burning candle I can make that still produces a gorgeous scent. This works well for me on a safety side too - you have to ensure the glass temperatures don't get too hot and become a hazard.
Do you have a set menu you choose from or do you ask suppliers to blend what you want?
My suppliers have the oils formulated, and I'm lucky that there's always great variety available to choose from. That said, not every oil will work with my preferred wax, and some oils in particular are incredibly frustrating to get right (it's why I don't have a lavender candle - yet!).
Towards the end of testing I also send out testers to family and friends, as well as some customers who I know will give me their honest opinions. It can be a hard one to judge because everyone has such individual preferences - what's too strong for one person won't be enough for another. Therefore, I always try and find a kind of middle ground - I never want the candle to be so strong that you overly notice it and have to blow it out. But at the same time, it has to be able to make people smile when they walk into a room, if that makes sense.
What is the dream for Rain & Wild?
To continue to grow and develop without losing sight of my core business values - attention to detail, a focus towards sustainability, and using the business as a way to help others.
In 2021 a percentage of the profits of the Christmas candle launch went to buying feed for a charity that rescues hens. I was blown away by the generosity of people, many of whom gave extra. Together, we donated over half a ton of pellets to feed the LittleHill hens. In 2022 we helped to pay off the vet bills for some rescue chickens who were in a bad way. I couldn't have done these things without all the amazing people willing to contribute. I can't wait to see who we can help in 2023.
Three words you would use to describe the brand?
Passionate. Playful. Positive.
Three words you would use to describe yourself?
Passionate. Playful. Forgetful.