Espelma: A New Candle Obsession
Hi Clara! You started making candles after your sister Claudia - who has four kids - became aware of the nasty emissions of paraffin wax. Tell us about the birth of Espelma.
Yes! I’ve always worked in the luxury and lifestyle space I was very keen to start a brand of my own. While I was at Columbia Business School, it was the perfect time to explore ideas and get advice from peers and teachers. At the same time, Claudia, my sister/co-founder - who also went to Columbia Business School! - was pregnant with her fourth child and had stopped burning candles because of toxins found in paraffin wax. We started talking about the possibility of cleaner burning wax and slowly started finding suppliers to bring our idea to life.
Were you both doing something related to fragrance beforehand or was this a completely new adventure for you two?
Before going to business school, I had worked for Jo Malone in e-commerce marketing and then for a Brazilian jewellery brand doing social media and e-commerce. I had a pretty good sense of online sales and have always loved lifestyle brands. Claudia’s career had previously been in finance so we had complementary skills and thought the partnership would balance well.
Every girl - especially nowadays - loves a good candle. It has become a massive industry: to have luxe candles as a home fragrance but also as a piece of decoration. Packaging plays a massive role in the industry: why did you choose Murano glass in particular?
Girls and boys! Indeed, packaging is super important and we want to create something beautiful and long-lasting. Our Murano glass is totally handmade and can be reused time and time again. I think it’s incredibly important to surround yourself with meaningful beauty and objects that bring happiness. Our candle box packaging is also intended to be reused and kept as a box - lots of clients store their refills in the candle boxes!
There’s also a certain charm in having a completely unique colourway glass-blown candle, right?
Of course! It’s a totally unique object. Especially the limited edition Murano patterns that we’ve launched for the Scentless candle. They are truly individual. It’s fun to see customers pick their favourite one and style them together with the solid colour glass.
Sustainability is a key quality of the brand. What are your thoughts on sustainability? Would you define Espelma as a sustainable brand?
Sustainability is definitely a huge focus for us! Our candles are refillable and made of totally sustainable natural wax. We wanted to create a product that had a really long lifespan, hence the refillable model where the glass can be reused. However, there is always room for improvement and we want to get more involved in topics like where the fragrances are specifically sourced and how to reduce waste in our packaging.
The wax is 100% natural: this was actually the first incentive when starting to work on Espelma. There are a lot of sustainable brands that have told their story about the difficulty of finding factories willing to produce organically and naturally. Was it easy to find the right wax and the right factories?
Definitely not easy. We struggled to find partners who understood our vision and were committed to making it work. Especially for the refills, we got a lot of ‘Nos’ when we were looking for our suppliers because many didn’t think that the wax could hold a shape without paraffin - as coconut wax is very soft. We ended up finding a clever factory that added beeswax to harden the soft coconut wax, which made it even more of a unique and purifying blend!
The packaging for the brand is absolutely beautiful. Was it Commission studio that created it?
Yes - Commission Studio helped with the branding, web design, packaging design. We are lucky to have found them through AUFI and they had some great ideas that have really made a difference to the aesthetic - like the subtle flame in the E.
Your latest pop ups have been both in New York City and London. Where’s next?
We loved the pop-ups! We did them through Appear Here, which we'd highly recommend. We are definitely going to try new cities in the future like Los Angeles and also Barcelona, where we’re from!