The Muses London: 'Our candles are designed to add structure to your day'
We hear from Fiona Janneryd, the creator behind scent-scaping candle company, The Muses London, to get an insight into the world of candle making...
When and why did you decide to launch a candle business?
'The idea for The Muses was born when I was living in the sun-drenched city of Johannesburg, South Africa. Suffering from a severe back condition and living a more home-centric lifestyle, I started making my own candles. I'd always appreciated the power of scent on my mood and used this to influence my focus, perception and daily structure, as I juggled a bumpy recovery with a young family.
'Lighting my candles and creating distinct atmospheres throughout the day with delicate scents became part of my daily routine. As I started to feel better, more productive and balanced, I realised how impactful scent had been in structuring my day, influencing my mood and aiding my recovery in a subconscious way.
'When I returned to London I decided to turn my ‘therapy’ and hobby into a business. So I set about creating a unique candle collection to inspire; to entice myself and others to create the space for life and loves in the modern world. Each of our candles is designed to be paired with different moments throughout the day – to help build a structure for our new ways of living and working.
'But I didn’t want a candle collection that only inspired people to take their time. I wanted one that looked chic, was clean burning and sustainably designed and that fitted seamlessly into our modern lives (and interiors). That was far more important to me than larger profits or a quicker launch time.
'For me to be able to achieve this, sustainability had to sit at the heart of the design process: The natural wax, the wicks, containers, labels, note cards, candle boxes, botanical fragrance oils, essential oils, the shipping boxes, filler and shipping tape. Everything!
'It took well over a year to find all the right partners – but I found them and after much testing and experimentation the capsule collection was born. I launched The Muses just at the beginning of the first lock down, in April 2020.'
Did you used to make them for yourself before you went into business?
'Yes – I made all of my candles at home for myself at first. I did everything from mixing my fragrances to testing and creating the candles. I found the process really therapeutic and loved the fact that at the end of the process there was a beautiful candle to light.
'Then once I’d created a few that I liked, I started to give them to family and friends to get feedback. My house smelled amazing!'
Are you doing this full time or alongside another job? If the latter, what else do you do?
'The Muses is my main job (during school hours!). When I returned from South Africa, I didn’t want to go back to a corporate career anymore. I wanted to launch an independent brand that reflected my values and that I could nurture and grow. There are still pulls on my time – I have a young family so there are quite a few balls to juggle in any one day.'
Where are you based? Do you make the candles at home or in a studio elsewhere?
'I’m based in leafy North London. My candles are hand poured in a studio just outside of London (I no longer have the space). At one stage I had boxes, candles and wax laid out all over my living room floor – I realised then I couldn’t do it all at home (or all by myself).'
What are your main raw materials? i.e Which wax do you use and why?
The Muses candles are made with a 100% natural wax blend of bees, rapeseed, coconut and soy wax. All of the waxes we use are natural, from renewable sources, biodegradable and non-GMO. Our soy wax is certified sustainable and the beeswax is harvested ethically.
'I tested a lot of waxes before I landed on this one. A core reason for going with this wax is the fact that it is sustainable, natural and clean. The soy wax is certified sustainable because using soy wax can also be a bit of an environmental minefield – unless you get it from the right place.
'It was important to me and to the brand that the wax did not contain any paraffin or other by-products that could release toxins when burning. This blend also burns beautifully (not too fast), holds the fragrance well and delivers an excellent scent throw – which is what you want from a scented candle.'
Where do you source your fragrances and which ones are your/customer favourites?
'I work with one fragrance house here in the UK. It was really important to me that the fragrances used were free from toxins, phthalates, parabens etc… I’ve got a long list of ingredients that I won’t allow in the blends or candles.
'In my view there is just no reason to include them these days. And it was important that the fragrances were made sustainably - using sustainable ingredients and techniques – which our fragrance house does.
'Current favourites are Kickback (more details below) and Tonic. Tonic is mood boosting and designed to help with motivation – for example, down days, the mid-afternoon slump or exercise in your front room. It’s full of herbaceous botanicals, mosses, verdant flora, and tomato leaf. It’s spirited and uplifting - reminiscent of all the scents in a herb garden.'
What's the hardest part about running a candle business?
'It’s been an amazing journey so far – I have learned so much about running a business and trying to build a brand. I’d say the hardest thing for me has been to make sure I don’t get carried away too quickly.
' I have a lot of ideas and plans in the pipeline for new products and projects – but it’s important to not get diverted by the ‘new shiny thing’ until what you have is bedded in and your systems are up and running.
'We’ve had to be quite responsive to changes coming through as a consequence of Brexit and COVID – so there have been other external factors to juggle in the business alongside running the day-to-day.'
What's the best/most fun part of running a candle business?
'There are a few! I’ve met some amazing people along the way – who have all been so helpful and generous with their time and advice. There is a whole community out there of people who have set up small businesses (not necessarily candles) – we are all facing similar challenges and learning every step of the way.
'I love getting feedback from customers and hearing that they love our candles, our containers, the quality. I also love the creativity – creating new fragrances, designing new packaging, working out how our candles and fragrances can make a difference to day-to-day wellbeing.
'And I have to admit I love it every time we get a sale! A big smile appears on my face (and a ‘whoop’ if I’m feeling particularly excited!) every time a sale goes through – I am so grateful that people love and enjoy The Muses candles. '
Which is your most popular candle?
'Our most popular candle is Kickback. I think it’s because everyone is really focused on finding ways to unwind and relax – COVID has had a huge impact on everyone’s lives and ways of living and working. Particularly during the lockdowns, when we were all working from home, it was hard to delineate between one part of the day and another. Kickback is the perfect candle for telling your brain to switch over to wind-down mode.
'It has notes of ripe figs, fig blossom and jasmine which help to give you a feeling of being cocooned and grounded. We incorporate jasmine into our fragrance because it is considered to be a 'clean', calming aroma and promotes the cleansing of the mind and relieves stress. It's a lazy, hazy fragrance that helps you tune out the world.'
What do you have coming up this year in terms of new product launches?
'I’ve got quite a lot in planning. I will be launching our diffuser range this year – which I’m really excited about, because we will be taking our sustainability focus to the next level when this launches. I also think they are going to look fabulous.
'And then we have a few updates to the current collection which I don’t want to divulge just yet – but will really enhance our offering.'
Where can people find out more about The Muses?
'You can head over to the website which has a lot of information about the brand, our values and our products – what’s in them, what’s not etc.: www.themuseslondon.co.uk. You can also sign up to our monthly newsletter The Monthly Muse – which offers inspiration for living an intentional, considered lifestyle when time is tight (which let’s face it we all suffer from).'
'You can follow and find out more about The Muses on our Instagram @themuseslondon. And we can be found on Pinterest @themuseslondon. We’re always happy to answer any questions via DM or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.