Lighting it up – the sister chandlers behind Evoqua Candles
There's little more smile-inducing than an exotically-scented candle glowing in a corner. We caught up with two sisters who feel the same, and turned their dream of working with wax and wicks all day into reality.
Andie Lawson (left) and Janette Livesey (right) are two sisters rocking the world of wax with their ‘candles with a conscience’. Not for them the humdrum 9 to 5, instead they took the plunge to give up the grind and become expert chandlers. We caught up with them between melts to find out more.
Hello Andie and Janette … tell us how Evoqua came about?
A: We both came from very different careers, Janette is a qualified aromatherapist, and I had a successful career in financial services. We’re also sisters and had always toyed with the idea of running run a business together, it was a long held dream, but we could never quite see how to do it! Then in August 2019 my husband went away on a long sailing trip and we decided to fill the time by learning a new skill. We found a candle-making course and loved it. It was a real lightbulb moment, Andie had recently been made redundant from her job and I knew I could combine it with practising aromatherapy on the side – so we decided to turn it into a business.
How does running a business as siblings work? Lots of counting to 10?! …
A: No! Luckily we are actually very close. We have a shared sense of humour and laugh a lot – mainly at each other! But that really helps. We have very different skills & experience that we both bring to the business so we’re a great team. We spent many months creating, testing, sampling, and considering what our clients would really value before launching so we are very proud of what we’ve created.
How has the pandemic changed your journey?
J: You can probably imagine it is impossible to make candles over Zoom! So, we have needed to carve out roles. Andie has been doing the making on her own as the Evoqua studio in Ross-on-Wye is at her home, and I’ve been researching and planning for 2021. The cancellation of markets and pop-ups has been tough but we decided we could either sit back or try to expand, so that’s what we did. As a result we now have also now created Evoqua Home – curated accessories made by independent UK artisans – which will launch later this year. Thank goodness for social media and our website! They’ve meant we have survived, and even thrived – now selling candles, soaps and reed diffusers. It’s taught us how important our support structure is too, from other artisans to friends and family, they’ve been the ones with their arms around us supporting us when we’ve felt low.
Tell us what you believe in?
A: Candles with a conscience! We are guided constantly by the principles of being eco-conscious and vegan. We spend a lot of time researching the ancient art of chandlery which means we hand pour our candles in small batches. Evoqua means ‘to evoke memories’, and we love the idea of being able to draw out emotion with fragrance. We do everything ourselves in our studio and use only plant-based essential, natural oils and botanical wax. Being sustainable is really important to us, you’ll only get recyclable, compostable, vegan and biodegradable packaging with us.
Name your all time fave fragrances?
J: We are currently testing new blends which we hope to launch in the summer, but if we really had to pick one each my favourite would be Lemongrass, Geranium & Lemon and Andie’s would be Bergamot, Rosemary, Sage & Geranium paired with Frankincense, Amber & Cedarwood.
What dream fragrance would you love to create?
A: We’d love to create the essence of California redwood forests … think fog drenched forests and ‘petrichor’ – the smell of warm earth after rainfall. Just beautiful. Prior to the pandemic and Brexit we started looking into this and testing essential oils that were wild-harvested and sustainably sourced from this area, so watch this space.
A great scent to get us through 2021?
A: Oh, that’s an impossible question as scent is so very personal! But one of the most popular scents through lockdown for us has been Eucalyptus Lemon & Mint which is lovely for bringing a sense of freshness and vitality.
What will you be doing on Mother’s Day?
J: I have a son who is 24 and studying an MA at the moment so he’ll be busy, and Andie is a step-mum. So for us the day is about celebrating our own mothers, carers, step-mums, partners, grandmothers and all loved ones who help make a family structure. This Mother’s Day as we’re still in lockdown we’ll just be looking forward immensely to a Zoom call with our mum who’s 82 now, and no doubt celebrating together with a large glass or two of wine.
Describe a dawn-to-dusk day in your life?
A: No day is the same in the life of a chandler! We are very busy all the time from ordering ingredients, researching vessels, taking pictures, lifestyle staging our products, labelling, packaging and more. We are both live by our ‘to do’ books which we share so we know what the other is up to! We chat at several times a day, with numerous Whats app messages in between – and often a funny meme to make the other smile.
Tell us your dream setting for a candle-lit dinner?
J: For both of us it would be chilling out in a gite in the south of France, with all our family across all the generations, watching the sun go down across the vines. We would light our Orange, Mandarin, Bergamot & Lavender candle to emulate the scents of the groves and gardens around us and we’d be feasting on cheese, wine and local breads. Probably with Andie singing badly and me dancing badly as the night turns into the dawn. Soon we keep telling ourselves, soon.
You’ve got a day off! Where will we find you hanging out?
A: In a non-lockdown world, we love mooching around antique shops, especially Malvern Hills Vintage in Eastnor for that ‘something’ we believe is missing from our home or for staging one of our products. Then a visit to Rhubarb in Malvern, Worcs, for homewares. Then it would be a light bite to eat and a cheeky glass of wine at No.3 Bistro and Leonards at 39 in Ross-on-Wye. A perfect day out.
Fave app or podcast of the moment?
Yogaburn, Asana Rebel and Rightmove.
Candle you covet for your kitchen table?
Nobody buys us candles anymore! But we’d always choose our Lavandin, Lemon, Mandarin & Basil scented candle, it’s a beautiful scent for the kitchen.
Three people you’d most like to pour wax with?
Elvis, Daniel Craig & Bill Nighy – just because.
Your guilty pleasures?
See above! Of course, adding in red wine, Calendar Girls the movie, French cheese & Abba.
Your pet peeves?
Impoliteness and poor customer service.
Three things on your bedside table right now?
A lamp, Conscious Creativity by Philippa Stanton and scented reeds. No candles ever by the bedside for safety!
Head to Evoqua Candles now to see their full range of gorgeous candles and home accessories.
*** For a lovely 15% off all across the entire Evoqua range, use the code MUDDY15 – the code can be used at the checkout at Evoqua Candles *** AND until midnight tonight (2 March) get 25% off the whole range – discount already applied at checkout.