We have all been victim to those emotional purchases that have sexy promises of a enhanced and more wholesome life, just 'add to cart’ and all of your troubles will vanish with a little spray, spritz or rub of a fabled magical elixir but, is it all marketing spiel?

Our first retail candle line in 2016


We set Wallace & Co up in 2016 with the sole focus of becoming The UAE’s first ‘wellness’ home fragrance retail brand but what would define our brand to authentically become a bonafide wellness brand anyway? We specialized in candles for the first 2 years of the business so essentially we were only a candle company so how could we stick to our ‘wellness’ ambitions? Lets start with the ingredients, we said, SOY WAX, yes that’s it, we will use soy wax – (for context nobody had really heard of soy wax and so it was a genuine point of difference, but was that it?) No, essential oils, we would only use essential oil and we will be Forbes listed aromatherapists before we knew it. We proceeded to buy 10 litres of jasmine, peppermint, tea tree and lavender oil from India and we were off, we had our wellness brand!  Or did we?  We quickly discovered essential oils don't blend well with soy wax and that soy wax really didn’t throw off a great scent so we had to go back to, lets say more synthetic oils, nobody wants to pay 50 USD for a weak smelling sort of, lavender candle so we had to concede. The clandestine world of fine fragrance oils was foreign to us at that point and so we believed the high street brands had the secret formula so we kept our R & D hat on and tried and tried working with those oils.  A lot of our first customers also bluntly stated, ‘’I want oud, good oud, an oud candle, can you make an oud candle?’’ and so with a resigned look we started making oud candles that are NOT essential oil based, so our version of wellness candles seemed to disappear just like that.

Carl Bailey making our first soy candles in our first factory in 2016 ( room on palm)


Now to the promise of wellness via a candle, its very fashionable and perhaps on trend for both consumers to want an immediate fix of zen and with the elaborate promises of the soy wax brigades ( the only thing small brands can differentiate on is this one point). One would think that lighting a candle would immediately transcend oneself into the Himalayas and back again before you can say Tuberose. We think differently, and from personal experience it takes a lot more than a half inch flame and some jasmine aroma to bring peace and zen to ones life. ‘’I want to be zen but I spend 6 hours a day on my phone, 2 hours watching Netflix, have 5 coffees before lunch, 6 slices of bread, have no control over my finances, Im hungover most Fridays and and the only Gym I know is called the same who works in the pub BUT there was this candle seller that promised me if I lit this bloody candle I would morph into a yoga pant wearing hippie chanting OM and preaching about my vegan life and how good my downward dog is, but NO, that didn’t happen and Im still over caffeinated, skint, overweight, tired and spending too much time with Gym, I mean Jim’’

So we can see, as much as its ‘cool’ to spout off plagiarized statements about vegan wellness candles its slightly disingenuous to harp on and on about the wellness benefits of a solitary flame and the distant whiff of lemongrass.

Now, if our friend can change his diet habits, hydrate more, stop the booze and manage his mind with a little more discipline and dare I say it put the yoga pants on then at the end of his more lets say, 'living my best life' days, a candle may well be the aromatic cherry on the cake of his new spiritual 'living with purpose’ life. But until then, lets not keep going on and on and on about exclusive wellness candles.

This is being said in the full knowledge that we ourselves have played this card but we soon learnt it was an empty hall to shout in so instead, we include stickers in our products that talk about sleep, hydration, breath and are designed just to bring ones attention back to those small things that can help. We still use soy wax and where we can, essential oils, but we just don’t keep talking about it as we believe there are other things to chat about, like Jim and his yoga pants. 

Dennie
JBR – Dubai
May 2021

 

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