There is something very special about a candle. I remember the first time I saw one made, it was by some Monks pouring them by hand in Sussex: the smells stuck with me and I have since become rather obsessed, so when walking through Love Thy Interiors in York and a smell stirred my senses, I was thrilled to see The Little Yorkshire Candle Company, a local enterprise with focus on quality and collaboration. I checked out their Instagram and have since struck up a conversation with their founder Alex Hall.
Based in Church Fenton, just outside York, Alex has painstakingly created a world class product, her background in crafts and aesthetics more than evident when looking at the brand’s incredible, illustrated site (by Sarah Relf, about whom more later). After a lifetime of passion for the craft whilst balancing a career in the corporate world, it was eventually motherhood that was the catalyst to make her passion a business: the reality of anxiety made Alex start blending essential oils to help with relaxation. As many fragrances irritated her asthma, it was very important – also as the mother of an asthmatic – what went into her candles. Her many creations then started getting a following with her friends and family, but with the change to EU regulations on making scented candles in 2015, a decision had to be made as to whether she should invest further in the candlemaking or just continue for pure enjoyment. The rest was history.
As part of the journey, Alex has realised the importance of shopping locally and the value of the ‘Yorkshire Pound’: the largest county in England. It turns out, when brought together as one, is quite a powerhouse. “Unfortunately, as in many high streets, the independents disappear to chains and the craft markets in many towns are not so much full of crafts but mass-produced imports and the real artisans have to shout louder and louder for their place,’ says Alex. “It is always refreshing to visit York and go off the main beat where independents thrive. There has been an emergence of shops supporting ‘Buy Yorkshire’ throughout the county in the last few years, and not just cushions made in China that say “Ey Up” on them, which is a great step forward as people start to realise the benefit in handmade, hand-poured, locally created and unique produce bring to their businesses.”
This is a sentiment I couldn’t agree more with: every pound spent locally goes straight back into the economy, buying a family the right to eat by investing in enterprise, not just lining the fat cats’ pockets.
With the upmost respect to this locality, Alex has collaborated locally for mutual support, audience sharing and keeping business within the region. Some of the collaborations are totally unique for an artisan candlemaker too, Alex having been very lucky to work with some amazing local talent. Alex was introduced to Sarah Relf of Magpie’s Cabinet when two previous ventures with illustrators had not worked out: “Sarah is so talented and totally understood and was able to interpret what I was wanting, which is an art in itself,” says Alex. “She has worked on all my branding and packaging designs. I look forward to working with Sarah as the brand develops further”.
ALEX HAS REALISED THE IMPORTANCE OF SHOPPING LOCALLY AND THE VALUE OF THE ‘YORKSHIRE POUND’
In the very early stages, Alex also contacted Ben Taylor (The Yorkshire Prose - check out his work here, the guy is a genius) and asked if he could write a few words with his amazing talent for the Yorkshire Dialect. “I love listening to Ben on his walking talking videos and wanted to capture a little bit of that in a LYCC candle. Alex has succeeded at making the whole project a sensory experience: the smell, the art, the prose, the touch of the box, the feel of the matt glass coating.”
This leads us full circle and back to the most powerful part of Little Yorkshire Candle Company. Even with all the passion and articulation, without immaculate smells the product would fall short but it very much doesn’t. The smells chosen are all very evocative, drawing on the power of scents and how they can take you back to a place in time or evoke a memory.
Alex’s personal favourite oil is Mimosa: “It is a wonderful sweet and floral scent but with woody undertones, perfect for lifting the spirits and letting go of fears and worries. It has calming, warming and relaxing properties and helps with day to day stresses and strains. So much so it has been used in two of our five signature scents, Bliss and Serenity.”
Alex’s favourite scent? “I admit my personal favourite changes regularly dependent on my mood. I love the spa smell of Sensual, a mix of all of nature’s aphrodisiacs. Ylang ylang, rose, oud and patchouli make this a really exotic scent but for a more day to day scent, it is usually Serenity or Bliss, probably with Bliss slightly taking the edge for me. It is such a green scent, it gives me the essence of a summer day. I feel the heat from the cardamom, the freshness of the mandarin and ylang ylang and the floral notes of jasmin and mimosa. However, scent is such a personal thing . Some people have an avid dislike for lavender, but our tranquil blend of lavender, lavendin and chamomile has been a firm favourite since we launched .”
On her personal mission to create a candle for her stress, Alex has started her own enterprise, something to inspire. She is selling them nationwide and soon to go bigger, but at the core of what she does will always be her passion.