We’ve been working with Bryan from Ruslana Candles for a little while now, reviewing his handmade candles and wax melts, which we’ve been so impressed with, so we’re super happy now to be interviewing him for the latest edition in our Behind The Wick series.
So Bryan, tell us a little about yourself – what originally drew you to making candles and launching your own business?
I started working in a candle wholesale business about two and a half years ago in the warehouse side of things and working closely with the managing director, I slowly learned the trade of melting and pouring with the help of two of the biggest candle making businesses in both China and India. The MD was set in his ways with regard to sticking to a small number of selected fragrances and to my eyes the sales was becoming stale.
I found a fragrance and wax supplier close to myself and from that time I was buying the supplies to make my own soy candles, and using the scents that I was able to buy off the supplier, I helped the business expand into more scents and before the owner had to close the business down for personal reasons I started selling my range off around at markets and fairs. From that time I have slowly built my business in making both for private labels and my own brand.
The brand Ruslana is my partner’s name who is at the moment, a million miles away from me. I have set up the business hoping that one day when we are together, we can run the business together. The meaning behind Ruslana comes from Russia and means lion.
Tell us about the process that goes into making your lovely candles? What wax/products do you use?
Nothing special about the process of making the candles, most chandlers know of either using a double boiler or a big bulk pot to melt down the wax and to keep it at a certain heat depending on the different types of wax.
The brand of wax I use in the soy candles is the Eco Soy brand, I mix it up in a big plastic storage tub both the advance blend and the CB135 blend for the container candles and I use the pillar blend for the clam shell and single shot melts.
What’s your inspiration for coming up with new scents?
The main supplier I use releases a minimum of nine new fragrances per month, it is hard trying to work out what scents to keep in the range as each market I attend or sell online to is different. The older generations still stick with the traditional scents like lavender, rose, vanilla and frankincense types but the younger clients I have been finding are going for the perfume or exotic type of scents in their homes and workplaces.
Being a wholesale business as well I have close to six hundred different scents that I offer as I prefer not to have the retail outlets that are close to each other have the same type of scents for sale.
What is your favourite candle scent of all the candles you make?
That’s a hard one, it’s like choosing a favourite child. But I have been burning more coffee scents melts first thing in the morning to help get myself active, either fruity or woody types during the middle of the day and the good old lavender ones at night to help me relax.
Are there any scent combinations you’ve tried that have turned into a total disaster? What about happy accidents?
The main one that comes to mind and I haven’t blended the scents myself is a lavender and mint scent, to me and I have had the glass container sealed for a few months as the smell once I made it was like old musty water that has been sitting still for some time.
One good one that I have blended myself is a peppermint mixed in with a chocolate oil, this one smells like someone having a hot peppermint chocolate drink.
Are there any other candle brands that you like and buy from? (What are your favourite scents from those brands?)
I haven’t brought any other candles for so long, I picked up a lot of the old company candles before he closed the business down, but I am lucky that I got some great candles that are handmade in Israel. My favourite one out of that lot is a strawberry scented candle. The candle itself burns and tunnels down the middle leaving an outer shell with either real fruit or flowers embedded into the wax.
What five items would you take to a desert island? (One has to be something you sell…)
My partner would be the first thing I would have to say I would take, hand tools so I can build a shelter, my full stock of candles and melts as the salty sea/ocean air would drive me crazy after a short time and the last two items would be a solar panel or two and the laptop computer so I can either study or read the many hundred e-books I have on the laptop.
Have you any new and exciting creations planned that you’d like to share with us?
Yes I have been burning many hairs on the back of my fingers getting the recycled glass drink bottles to break in the right spot and cleanly. Some of the vineyards and local companies that use glass have spent many hours designing and printing their own brand labels. I am a big believer of trying to recycle and reuse glass containers that are heatproof.
To me it is not much of exciting news but on a personal level if I can reuse one bottle with each new candle I make it’s one less thing that will either end up smashed somewhere on the roads by thoughtless people or be dumped in a landfill place somewhere never to continue its circle of life.