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CUTCH: 'Our candles are designed to be a virtual hug!'

Candle making would never have been on the cards for the founders of Cutch until lockdown happened. We speak to Fiona Crownshaw, co-founder of Cheshire-based candle business Cutch about how they started out and where they got the inspiration for their name, which translates to 'hug'. Plus it’s only fitting they be our first ‘meet the maker’ as they are so kindly supplying free goodies (mini candles and scents) for our first 50 newsletter subscribers! Click here to subscribe and claim your free goodies!

By Fiona Crownshaw, co-founder of Cutch

hug candles candle makers
Fiona and Sarah, founders of Cutch

Candles had always been something we liked but we never thought we’d end up making them. When we went into lockdown in March 2020, both myself and my partner, Sarah, had been in pressurised, 14-hour-a-day jobs that involved lots of travelling and additional hours at weekends. We are both accomplished in business and are used to running successful ventures as well as having strong marketing, finance and logistics skills. But once lockdown began we had lots of time on our hands as traveling ceased. It was a time to reassess and to spend some of our free time doing things that played more to our creative sides. Our lives had become a little too weighted towards work with not enough play.

When I was then made redundant in May, it gave us the final nudge we needed to both change career direction and work for ourselves. We had always been big fans of home fragrance, and Sarah already loved the benefits of aromatherapy for her wellbeing–she uses essential oils to assist her Qigong meditation. So, we both felt candles were a natural place to begin our new venture.

What’s in a candle name?

Cutch is taken from ‘cwtch’, which is a Welsh word meaning ‘a special hug’ - making our candles, quite literally, hug candles! Sarah is part Welsh and I have Celtic roots. We changed the spelling a little to ease pronunciation and make it our own brand. It was apt, too, as no one was allowed to hug or see their friends and family during lockdown and we just wanted to create something that meant people could send a ‘cutch’. I am hugely practical so got to work converting an outbuilding into a full workshop, where it all began. Smells are hugely important to memory in a similar way that music reminds you of times and places. Lavender takes me to Provence, for example, and lemons to Italy. We wanted to recreate happy scents and share those with others. Our first hug candle was called The Self Embrace, which is still one of our best sellers. It reminds me of being in a spa. We have had lots of people say they burn it in their home when working to help them relax. It’s a real feel-good fragrance.

hug candle candle maker
The Self Embrace Candle from Cutch

Our next hug candle was The Christmas Cutch. Christmas is one of my favourite times of year, so I enjoyed this immensely. We wanted to use scents to reminisce about good times gone –and to forget about the pandemic a bit, to be honest! The Christmas Cutch was so popular as it had a real warming scent and came in a lovely presentation box.

'Hug' candles that care for the environment

Candles vary so much, and we wanted to create something that was safe and also sustainable and recyclable. At home we’ve made big changes in how and what we buy, and have tried to do our bit, however small, to preserve and protect the environment. We found that some candles on the market smoke and leave sooty marks. We tested several waxes for our hug candles, and found that an eco soy wax gave a good ‘scent throw’. It also lasted well, giving good value for money, and came from a sustainable source.

We use essential oils in the main for aromatherapy benefits, but we did use a couple of fragrance oils at the start, but only ones that were paraben and phthalate-free. We also use cotton, lead-free wicks for a clean burn. Cruelty-free is a must for us as well as being vegan-friendly. All of our packaging is recycled, recyclable, FSC, and we try to source as locally as possible. The candle vessels are made from glass and can be repurposed in the home.

Our daily candle rituals as candle makers

The Self Embrace is always in our bathroom. Sarah has a daily soak when she lights the hug candle, draws her bath and completes her Qigong meditation. Since launching the room sprays, I mist the bedroom before bedtime with The Self Embrace. We have just added room sprays, reed diffusers and wax melts across all of our scents to give accessibility to more customers who prefer different methods of scenting the home.

hug candle from cutch candle makers
A Loving Cutch Candle from Cutch

A Loving Cutch was a recent addition, and we will soon be adding a new item to The Self Embrace as well as looking at a home collection. And I can’t believe we’re already working on our Christmas fragrance for 2021! Fingers crossed we will have two Christmas candles this year. We’re also working on a candle refill. Like many people, we have collected endless glass candle jars over the years and would like to offer a refill service that doesn’t include returning items to be refilled. The refill service is a work in progress, and we have a couple of customers who have agreed to trial some options, so watch this space. We’re also exploring personalised wedding candles so are definitely branching out.

Business advice for new candle makers

The best thing about our new candle business is that Sarah and I get to spend more time together making something we enjoy. We have the radio on in the workshop and the days just fly by when we’re creating. The workshop smells fantastic and we sleep really well after a day of inhaling the essential oils!

The worst or hardest part about our new candle business is probably getting our name known and out there. The candle market is a busy place, and it can be hard to get noticed. We have found that using social media and some advertising has really helped. In terms of advice for other up and coming candle makers, I’d say do lots of testing. We have burned so many candles testing the scents, the wicks, the vessels. You need deep pockets at the start as there is a lot of investment in equipment and ingredients. And don’t be tempted to cut corners.


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