Located at a quaint corner within the vibrant artist hub in London Fields, from the brightly-lit studios, superb coffee, carefully curated selection of lifestyle goods to the heavenly scent of Earl of East London candles, Bonds.Hackney makes me feels right at home!
It was absolutely a joy meeting Niko at their charming new studio/coffee shop/lifestyle store together with Kana London. We dropped by the other day for their opening and had the pleasure to take short tour around their candle-making chamber - where they also hold candle-making workshops from time to time! As we were walking around, Niko explained to us how the workshops are being held, unlike many other candle-making classes which rush you through the process in less than two hours, these gentlemen suggest to guide participants through the art of mixing oils and scent, before actually making your own candles. I can't wait to jump on a class this summer!
Stay tuned for more on our giveaway with Earl of East London next month!
Check out their fabulous candle collection HERE for now.
How did it all started with Earl of East - what was the catalyst that sparked your interest to start your own candle line?
Earl of East began is a shared creative outlet for myself and Paul. We met in London Fields and absolutely love the neighbourhood and the creative spirit here. There is an incredible community and we really wanted to be part of it.
Initially we started with a market stall in Netil Market, our idea was to create a lifestyle brand that wasn't bound to one product. To begin with our stall sold products from independent brands worldwide, this allowed us to showcase the talents of the global creative community and to help provide small business owners with a foot print in the UK. The stall also sold vintage and plants and really embodied all of the things we love and have in our own home.
We always knew that we would launch our own product and we both have a love for fragrance. Our stall helped to build awareness of Earl of East, give us credibility within the local area and worked as the perfect test environment for us to really learn what customers responded to. We began attending workshops and classes to try our hand at lots of crafts but it was candle making that really excited us. We then planned to launch our own line, knowing that we had Netil as a place to sell it. However we wanted to create a brand and had our eye on wholesale, from everything from our pricing strategy to visual representation.
Why candles? Well, we knew we wanted to launch a fragranced line of some sort and felt there was a really big gap in the market for high quality candles that were made from natural wax that appealed to both men and women. Most brands felt very feminine and we had seen and knew from personal experience that men loved fragrance too. We wanted to create something that would appeal to both. We also wanted to use fragrance as a way to share our own personal memories and as fragrance had been important to both of us growing up we felt we could do this well, and really get people thinking about scent in a different way.
What's your day-to-day routine like as an entrepreneur?
Everyday is different, being an entrepreneur means you have to wear many hats and sometimes all at once. As a couple we have also chosen to keep day jobs. We both enjoy our careers and this was never meant to be a replacement for them. So whilst at the beginning holding down our careers was a necessity, it's now become a life choice. There is a growing trend of people having a 'side hustle' and we think it's great to have both. Instead of investing all our time in this project we have been able to employ others, the rest of our team also have other projects and we find it really enriching. There is also something about keeping this as our creative outlet and by not having to be solely reliant on it we have been able to allow it room to grow and take risks that otherwise would have been impossible. For us it's not about work/life balance it's about integration. After three years we feel like we have it down and have managed to take the business in a direction where we haven't had to sacrifice doing the things we love, like travel for example. Now we teach in places we want to visit and get to meet incredible people and be part of those places in a way you can't be as a tourist.
So a day for us is usually a bit hectic, we get up early, talk throughout to do list whilst walking the dog. We always take time for coffee before heading to our day jobs and then generally email whilst commuting (just like now), we've had to make sure Earl doesn't bleed in to work time but often schedule calls or catch up on to dos over lunch. In the evening we always head to the studio. We love being there and the work varies, it could be meeting people, holding private workshops, making and then we always have to pack the days orders. A lot of people think we are crazy but we thrive of being busy. The weekends are much easier, we open at both Netil and our new space but we have time to enjoy being with the team and doing what we love - Saturday is about our customers and retail and on Sunday we teach. It's so much fun.
What's the philosophy behind your beautiful candles? Where do you usually get inspiration for the scent from?
We believe that fragrance should tell a story. Our unique scents are inspired by personal memory and places we have travelled to. We have scents inspired by our favourite places. People love the narratives behind the scent, it brings it to life for them. The best is when someone smells one of our candles and it reminds them of the same place, were surprised at how often that's actually happened and it's amazing.