I first glimpsed these incredible handmade candles through my Instagram feed – photographed perfectly they really enticed me in until I caved in and got in touch directly with owner Claire to find out more about these superb designs. Not long after my first candle arrived – a stunning black and red Marilyn Manson design that now takes pride of place on my altar. Such simple yet very clever designs I felt that all our reader should know about them!
Let’s start with an introduction – tell our readers who you are and how the idea for First Edition Candle Company came to be a reality?
I’m Claire and I’m the owner of First Edition Candle Company, I run the business with my husband Phil. We both have an admiration for the strange and the weird, we have a home filled with centuries old furniture (along with a recently acquired coffin that we plan to turn into a cabinet.) As you can guess, Phil and I love candles. There’s nothing more relaxing than coming home at the end of the day, lighting a few candles and conversing over an evening meal. I started making candles about six years ago, I find it takes me somewhere deep in my mind where I imagine what it would be like before the days of electricity when most wealthy families employed a Chandler (technical name for a candle maker) who worked away to produce light for the estate. I’ve always made dark style candles for our home. I did have a crack at selling Jo Malone-esque candles but the candles and I didn’t really work together and I had no business selling “upmarket” candles. So, I quit and got myself a regular job, still making the same dark style candles for myself. I turned 30 this year and it was the turning point to make a few changes in the months leading up to it and it was a now or never chance. I had a good long think as to what I wanted business wise, it was staring me right in the face, I was my own target market! We launched in December 2015 and the rest as we say, is history.
Have you always been quite creative? And what was it that drew you to create candles with a darker edge to them?
No I haven’t! I wish I could say that I’ve been a creative my whole life but sadly, I haven’t. I have always been an imaginative, dreamer kind of person and while it’s technically the same, I’ve expressed it with the clothes I wear and my choice of hairstyles over the years instead of mediums such as crafts and such. It was only when I got my first camera in 2008 that the world of creativity, specifically, visual arts really opened up to me. I can say that I have always had a love for the dark and macabre. Some of my favourite childhood film were Silence of the Lambs, Interview with the Vampire and the Rock Horror show. I began reading R.L Stine’s Point Horror and Stephen King novels at an extremely early age. The dark and macabre had been ingrained into me from such a young age that it was natural to progress into adulthood with a love of all things Goth and even more natural to create these weird and wonderful candles.
You often release horror and band inspired sets – who are your favourite artists and what are your top three horror movies?
I have so many favourite artists! A few of them include Dimmu Borgir, Darkthrone and Burzum along with Nine Inch Nails, Type O Negative and the lesser known Japanese Doom Metal Band: Coffins. I really love metal! My favourite Horror films are IT, the original Poltergeist… Oh my god! When I see that thing float down the stairs, I have nightmares for days, which is what a good horror film should do. Army of Darkness is Phil’s favourite, he idolises Bruce Campbell. Recently I saw the Witch and fell in Love.
Can you tell us about the process and what it involves when making each unique candle?
So the process is this: I think about a theme I want to base a collection off. So for example I wanted to base a collection on horror icons such as Boris Karloff, Elsa Lanchester and Bela Lugosi. I’ll look at portraits that would look striking in a cameo setting. I then think about colour schemes for candles and begin the dyeing process. Once we’ve made an initial prototype we either photograph it for its release or we use it as a batch tester candle. Any time we add something new such as adding glitter to a new design or trying a new wick we always test – and yes it does break our hearts!
The dark and macabre had been ingrained into me from such a young age that it was natural to progress into adulthood with a love of all things Goth and even more natural to create these weird and wonderful candles.
You recently teamed up with Curiology to make mini candles as part of their Halloween range – how did the collaboration happen and will you be looking to partner up with more brands in the future?
Teaming up with Curiology was an absolute dream. We’d received an email from Elspeth asking if we could provide exclusive candles for their Halloween set – of course we jumped at the chance. We’d been wanting to branch out into the subscription/limited edition collaborations for a while. We are always looking for likeminded companies to provide limited edition candles to. It’s opened up a new market for us.
You are a creative DIY run business along with your husband making you a winning team! Do you guys ever have any creative differences?
Sometimes we do. Ultimately I have final say in what we release as collections and fortunately, Phil is on-board 99% of the ideas I have. We do have a lot of differences when it comes to deciding retail prices. He’s very business minded and usually shoots down my lowball prices!
Are you looking at expanding the team in the near future to help accommodate larger orders?
We’re not looking for to hire staff in the immediate future; I think that if the time comes where we need to put more hours in to the business we’d look at dropping hours from our day jobs first. Who knows though, we’re not opposed to the idea of hiring staff if we need to. We did become temporarily overwhelmed with orders from the Curiology previews and it was a nightmare making candles one by one on this tiny stove, so we bought a huge soup kettle to help us manage or time more effectively. Soup kettles are a GOD SEND.
You regularly partake in the Macabre Monthly Online Markets – how do these fare for you and besides your own webshop where else can people purchase your candles from?
The Macabre Monthly Online Markets are a really great way for us to reach out to customers who wouldn’t normally find us on Etsy and we’re quite fortunate to be a part of an amazing team of business owners who promote each other and come together to offer Macabre customers a chance to win a hamper of wonderful wares from all of us each month. Aside from Etsy we are also on eBay and we recently had a bid week where prices started at 99p. It was really popular and we will no doubt do it again very soon. We are also looking at having a folksy.com shop in the near future as well.
What have been your best sellers so far?
We sell a lot of Edgar Allen Poe book candles, those are always popular. Most recently our Black Philip inspired candles are doing very well. I’d say best sellers rotate between the Poe candles, our black Full Moon candles and my personal favourite “Murders and Executions”, which is a “blood stained” candle adorned with a bloody hatchet.
What is the best way for our reader’s to contact you for custom made orders and what is the current turnaround time like?
We love getting custom orders. I think Phil and I really get a kick out of being challenged. We recently had a custom order for a candle based off Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time books and the customer request a gold finish. It sent us into a bit of a panic because we weren’t able to do metallic finishes. However, scouring the internet brought me to a supplier of metallic finishes. It really feels good to be able to deliver exactly what someone asks for. To contact us for a custom candle, you can either contact us on Etsy where we do have a custom listing or you can discuss requirements through Facebook or Instagram. Current turnaround times vary. Usually its 4-7 days but during October we correctly anticipated it would be our busiest month so turnaround time in October is 10-14 days.
You like so many of us rely on the use of social media to keep in touch with your customers – Instagram, Facebook and of course your personal pages – what’s been the most successful platform so far?
I think the most successful has been Instagram. I think it’s a wonderful platform where you can give your followers stunning imagery in a story format if you wish. We can show quick behind the scenes photos and give previews of what’s to come. I find that Instagram doesn’t penalise businesses in the way Facebook does. Granted, there are downsides to Instagram in the way that it’s a bit like fast fashion where if you aren’t uploading content regularly you’ll get lost in the abyss but generally it’s by far my favourite medium
What does 2017 hold for First Edition Candle Company?
2017 is going to be quite exciting! We’ll be releasing a collection called “unknown pleasures” based on the 80’s trad goth era and we’ll also spend more time creating ritual candles as we seemed to have neglected that part of the business a little. We plan to release more gift sets based on best sellers in our sampler sized candles and finally we intend to release our “Massive f&*%ing candles”. These will be huge church candles that dwarf our current largest size and will be available in all designs.
Any final words for this interview?
Thanks for having us! We really appreciate the support you and our customers give!
By Nickie Hobbs