Interview with Claire – owner of First Edition Candle Company
Interview by Jessica Plumb
Firstly, thank you so much for this interview today, and I hope all is well, especially considering the outbreak of Covid19. It is an amazing achievement that your store has been going since 2015. How did you first get the idea to create your online shop?
I started making candles in 2010 during a period of unemployment to keep the mind and hands busy. I’d been using Etsy for three or four years at this point and I would just daydream about having my own Etsy shop named after “First Edition” book shop in the Elder Scrolls: Oblivion, but I was always too scared of failure, so I spent four years just making candles for our home and soaking up lots of candle making techniques, I got a position for a highly stressful role in housing (which I still have!) so to help support my own wellbeing and resilience in that role, I woke up one day and took some atrocious photos and stuck them on Etsy. I don’t think I slept when I heard the first coveted “ker-chings!” at 11 pm that night!
What is the appeal of Witchcraft and the occult for you?
I think the Wiccan rede “An if it shall harm none, do what ye will” is much more appealing than a Patriarchal 10 commandments religion. I admire strong women and witchcraft does not have its shortages! I like the appeal that you don’t have to follow a pantheon or just one deity, I also like the appeal that there are a myriad of gods and goddesses to guide you if you’re spiritually inclined. I respect both left hand and right-hand paths and I’m able to apply my knowledge to my business without making it a fashion statement. They’re all functional candles within rituals.
Do you have a personal ‘hands-on’ approach as to how you run your online business?
Absolutely! All our candles are made in house by myself as our molds and fragrances. I do all the photography, make all the listings, and its always myself responding to enquiries.
Were you always interested and creating things when you were a child?
No! I was always reading a bloody book! I was really into Goosebumps, Point Horror, and Stephen King from a really young age and I really enjoyed scaring myself shitless with books about ghosts and unsolved mysteries.
I didn’t have any patience as a child to take up instruments, crafts, or drawings and it was only when I moved out when I was 19 that I bought a little camera and the creativity grew from there.
Do you play any music in the background to help with the process? And if so, which music genres do you prefer to listen too?
I don’t stop listening to music whether I’m working or not hahaha! I’m like Fenriz from Darkthrone in his sorting office, that’s me at both my jobs. I exclusively listen to metal so whether that’s kinda short-sighted, I don’t care. I recently bagged a 3-month subscription to Spotify and I love it and I don’t know why I was so against it! Current bands that I’m listening to a lot include Paradise Lost, Opeth, Novembre, Blood Incantation, Bathory, Morbid Angel, and Death. I’m constantly discovering artists such as Windhand and Dopelord I could honestly discuss music all day if I’m allowed to!
Where do you find inspiration and how do you create new ideas for your beautiful candles?
Inspiration comes from horror icons, places steeped in witchcraft such as Tintagel and Glastonbury. I also take inspiration from Greek and Celtic Mythologies. So for example, I look at colours, flora, and fauna associated with the deity and build upon that. I recently created a beautiful tribute to Flidais A woodland goddess with colours of woodland, lush foliage, and striking pair of antlers. But this is also my lifestyle and my way of life. I live and breathe an alternative lifestyle so I didn’t create First Edition to jump on a bandwagon. Everything I create comes from my soul.
You have a really good media presence including a following of over 14k on Instagram, what do you do promotion wise to keep the momentum going and what do you feel is the best way to advertise your brand?
I’m pretty useless at Instagram! I’m a post and run type of account but I’ve had more success on Facebook with nearly 69k followers largely down to the amazing admin work by the owner of gothic and enchanted on Facebook, she offers admin to independent businesses and her services are invaluable and highly recommended. I feel the best way to advertise is great photography, create an aesthetic with your photos. It doesn’t need to be the best camera, just create imagery that your clients feel is their own style. I also photograph my candles on the same backdrop so that when they’re shared without credit, someone somewhere is going to type “Hey that’s an @firsteditioncandleco candle!”
Are there any new items coming to your range? If so, can you tell us?
I’ve got a lot of scented candles in the workings. I’ve got a Gomez Addams fragrance due for release and I’m working on an electrifying duo based on Frankenstein and his bride.
I have read on Etsy you use paraffin blended wax can you tell us the reason why and is it easier to work with when creating?
Of course! I blend my own paraffin for pillar candles, mainly because waxes such as soy and palm either have devastating effects on the environment or they’re pumped with additives to make them rigid enough for pillar candle use. Paraffin blends that I create myself just burn lovely, easy to dye and I know exactly what’s gone into the wax. Over the years, I’ve added different types of waxes to my arsenal.
Your wares are made with quality and care. Are your candles vegan and cruelty-free?
I have scented tinned candles that are entirely vegan. These candles are made from British grown rapeseed wax and all my fragrances are vegan and cruelty-free and made with a sustainable wooden wick for a goth-hygge feel. My pillar candles are subjectively vegan. Some say they aren’t, some say they are. I’m open and honest with my wax choices to help potential customers make an informed choice. My beeswax isn’t vegan and all my equipment is separated to avoid contamination. I believe in locally sourced so my beeswax comes from a farm around 15 miles away. My packaging is 100% compostable and my wax clamshells are made from 100% recycled plastic which can be recycled again! So while I can’t say my brand is vegan, I can proudly say we support local, eco friendly and are against single-use plastics.
You have such an amazing range in your shop! Which one is a personal favourite?
Our purple and black snowflaking candle! It’s one of our most popular designs and has beautiful snowflaking patterns. It’s my favourite because our supplier discontinued the wax three years ago, we begged for the recipe but we were told it would be “chemically impossible” to replicate. “Just fucking watch me”, I said and it still remains a firm favourite.
You say you’re inspired by books, lore, occult, and Witchcraft, what’s your favourite book to read about this and folklore?
My favourite folklore is a local Dartmoor one called “Jay’s Grave”. Not too far from us is a crossroads grave with the body of “Kitty Jay;” she committed suicide in 1857 after being betrayed by a lover and wasn’t permitted to be buried on consecrated ground. Every morning fresh flowers are placed on her grave, many curious folk have camped overnight to see who lays the flowers, but they mysteriously fall asleep to be woken with fresh flowers at the grave. Tradition says that the flowers are the work of the piskies who out of sympathy tend the grave throughout eternity. Currently, I’m listening to the Lord of the Rings on Audible when I’m traveling for my day job. I’ve just finished The Hobbit, which inspired my new wax melts that launched on 1st August called Thief And A Liar, it smells like a Hobbit hole!
Having so much experience, what advice would you give to someone starting their own business?
Know your products inside out and find something that sets you apart from the rest. But also, find your people. Running a business is intense and hard and it’s never a bad thing to have fellow business owners to get opinions off of.
Can the customers customise their own candles? And what do you think keeps people coming back to buy candles in today’s society where we have electricity?
Yes, they can, and they’re my favourite! I’ve created in memoriam candles, ritual candles, and stunning home decor pieces as custom designs. I welcome all paths and I’m often told “you’re the go-to for ritual candles” it’s such a unique and personal experience and I give each custom request my heart and soul. It’s an honour when someone requests a candle that’s uniquely theirs. It’s also a safe place for clients who might feel vulnerable in their practices and discuss their needs with no judgement and I’m just as excited as they are! Candles are multifunctional, theyre decor, used with intent, and create an ambient glow and I think they’ll never go out of fashion. There’s nothing nicer than lighting a few candles of an evening to wind down and forget the stresses of the day.
Do you have any celebrity customers buying from you?
Aha that would be telling 😉
What other items do you sell on your site, aside from the candles mentioned?
I started learning perfumery in 2016 and I launched wax melts in 2017. I don’t want to offer the same fragrances in every other vendor’s catalogue so I make my own. From fragrances that smell like Morticias Conservatory, to the witchcraft store in The Craft I’m immensely proud of all my fragrances. I also launched wood wick scented candles with those fragrances this year and I plan to expand more on fragrance mediums.
Who would you love to collaborate with in the future, be it a model, musician, photographer?
I’d love to create something for Shagrath from Dimmu Borgir. His stage armour is just *chef’s kiss*
Has the pandemic of COVID-19 affected your business in any way?
Yes, it has, unfortunately. Nothing too major but certainly I’m having to push back and bring forward fragrance releases because suppliers are constantly out of stock of accords and chypres. I’m itching to release my Gomez Addams fragrance but there just isn’t enough of what I need.
What other interests do you have outside your business? Do you have any hobbies?
I’m a huge consumer of vinyl and I picked up an original pressing of Death’s 1990 release Spiritual Healing recently, that was an adrenaline rush and a half winning that on eBay. I’m also into upcycling and created some absolutely gorgeous shelves from scaffolding and original brackets from Covent Garden, I help mod the Gothic Home Decor Enthusiasts group on Facebook because I’m really passionate about alternative home decor and I’m really nosy. Every time I accidentally glance in someone’s window as I walk past, Dara O’Briain comes into my head “*gurning* I like what you’ve done with the place!”
Thank you for your time! Is there anything you would like to mention or say to our readers?
Thank you! Its been a pleasure! We release new candles every month and have nice little sales which both coincide with the Macabre Monthly Online Market night on Facebook every 1st day of each month, so if your readers are interested in macabre handmade items from a selection of the finest makers around, please join us on the 1st of every month from 7 pm!