In the latest of our ongoing customer spotlight series, we caught up with Lauren Dean from Opali London.
Opali was created with the idea of making not only a beautifully scented candle but also one that came in a vessel that was just as meticulously designed and beautiful to look at. If it was nicely designed then why wouldn't people want to reuse it as a vase, pen pot, plant pot once they’d burned their way through the candle?
'Our candle vessels should be beautifully designed objects that will live far beyond their lifespan as a candle'.
Lauren felt that there were already separate markets for ceramics and candles but hadn’t come across something that married the two – especially not with a sustainable focus. Opali candles are all 100% soy wax and the vessel and fragrance are all made from sustainable materials.
At the launch of Opali a few months ago, three initial scents were created:
Embers: A complex smoky fragrance evoking the warmth and comfort of weekends in the country. Inspired by lazy days reading and relaxing as embers crackle and glow in an open wood fire.
Zephyros: A warm and intoxicating floral fragrance evoking the sensations of a gentle summer breeze. Inspired by the story of Zephyros, Greek God of the West Wind and bringer of early Summer breezes, who together with his beloved Khloris - Goddess of Flowers, created the rose.
Antibes: A luxurious and fresh floral fragrance which conjures up the romance and sparkle of the Cote d’Azur. Inspired by hazy days in the French riviera where sweet floral scents mingle with salty sea air and fragrant fruit trees.
When we started to talk about the challenges we know small businesses face when trying to get off the ground, Lauren acknowledged that it hadn’t been all plain sailing getting to this point.
One of the biggest challenges for Lauren and Opali was finding the right supplier. Lauren spent a long time researching the methods and educating herself on the technical side of things before reaching out to a range of suppliers.
After working with a few she found that she was running into a series of regular problems, such as really high costs, prototypes not quite up to scratch or not using the right method. Eventually, Lauren found the right supplier who was a specialist in slip casting — they would make a block, make a mould and then pour bone china and create the vessels we see from Opali today.
Each item is handmade by master craftsmen in Stoke-on-Trent, which has been the home of the UK pottery industry for centuries.
The fragrances are mixed to a unique recipe, designed to evoke specific memories and stories. The candles are then hand-poured in England, using Soy Wax, chosen for its clean burn and Vegan properties.
Another thing that, like Lauren, many side-hustlers find is juggling their new venture alongside their full-time job that is ultimately funding it all.
Lauren finds time between her full-time job to run Opali’s social accounts on lunch breaks and evenings and spends her weekends fulfilling orders and queueing for the post office. Although she’d love it to become her full time gig, she is conscious of not letting it take a toll on her current job so makes the sacrifice to spend time others would spend relaxing and winding down, running Opali.
Lauren said that what really drives her is having the ability to turn that vision into a reality and becoming your own boss. Defining her own brand guidelines and tone of voice have been really enjoyable for Lauren and she’s aware of how huge a part they can play when getting a new brand off the ground.