In tune with International Women’s Week, we sat down with candle-maker and sustainability activist, Annemarie, from Byron Bay Candles to talk aromas, women’s power and community.
Both a local resident and business owner, Annemarie is fixated with the idea of uplifting moods through the sense of smell and prides herself on blending her love and care for the environment with aromatherapy for all scent personalities.
Can you tell us a bit about how you started your journey with Byron Bay Candles?
Byron Bay Candles has been operating for close to 25 years now and we were big fans of the Byron Bay Candles brand - particularly the Coconut Lime candles. So when we discovered the business was for sale - while purchasing candles at the local Byron Bay Markets - we instantly began imagining our lives as Australian candle makers.
What initially attracted us to Byron Bay Candles was and is its commitment to clean, non-toxic candle making processes - like the use of only pure soy wax and pure cotton wicks - and we wanted to focus on delivering a product range for health-conscious individuals who want to inhale a natural aroma designed to uplift their mood through triggering their sense of smell. We didn’t want to be distracted by the ‘glitter and glam’ of candle making vessels because, unfortunately, the candle making industry is wrought with producers using inferior ingredients like petrochemicals, parabens and enhancers.
We LOVE the scents of your candles but we would love to know more about your recyclable jar program!
One of our main desires is to reduce waste and be the leaders in environmentally friendly manufacturing initiatives which is why we developed the ‘candle jar refill’.
It came about because our customers would often ask if they could drop their empty candle jars into us for refilling. So with this in mind, and our desire for all our customers to be able to re-use their empty jars and reduce landfill, we created the ‘refill candle’.
This is not an easy process as pure soy wax is completely molten once heated and it must be contained in a cylinder to hold its shape. But we were determined to find a way! After two years of trial and error, we can now provide our customers with an option to purchase a refill that not only saves them $10 every time they buy a candle, but allows them to join us in our endeavour to reduce our environmental footprint.
How do you perfect your aromas?
Aroma is a key component of any candle, so we extended the range further by including four new candle scents that are infused with only 100% pure essential oils. Again, using pure essential oils in candles is uncommon because it’s an art to be able to combine the right selection of essential oils to ensure they still have an even, continuous scent once burning. We often hear remarks that essential oils don’t work in candles but we have an experienced team of aromatherapists to call on - such as my cousin who has been successfully making essential oil candles for the past 15 years - so our success rate is guaranteed. And we’ll continue to expand our aromatherapy selection into the future.
Being a businesswoman in 2022, what changes do you hope to see in the future?
It’s not so much of a hope because I am already seeing the change developing further and further. There are so many amazing, young women taking leadership roles and speaking their truth out to the world through online forums and social media platforms.
With each year that passes it feels like younger women are growing in confidence and consequently joining forces to work together to achieve remarkable results. And this is not only in their careers but on a personal level too, by becoming role models for other young women to follow so that their confidence can also grow.
Back when I was twenty-eight years old - I’m turning 50 this year - I was awarded Young Career Woman of the Year in the township of Bendigo in Central Victoria, for my business success and marketing initiative in a business I operated in the township. Back then I would organise community meetings to bring business owners together to share ideas for growing their business, allowing them to give back to the community in gratitude for the support they received. Back then was the beginning of the internet, so all communication was via printed flyers and phone calls but now technology has provided a way for women to share their message to a larger audience. Now young women have a forum for their voices to be heard! They’re not afraid to speak their truth as they know there are others out there that will support them. Shares, likes and comments are all commonly used phrases in conversations amongst girlfriends and we know women are great at spreading the word when they are inspired by what they are hearing.
With all this in mind, my hope for the future is that more women will develop their confidence and become great women role models who stand up and take leadership roles within their communities. Influential women who share words of kindness, support and generosity so that we are surrounded by great mothers, teachers, bosses, carers, wives and friends. And with the recent flooding in the Northern Rivers and the surrounding communities, I witnessed women coming together to help in any way they could. They baked food, they collected supplies, they consoled the grieving and they shared words of support.
We heard you distributed candles to those who lost power during the major flooding in the Northern Rivers, can you tell us about what it means to be part of the Byron Bay community?
We, like everyone else, wanted to do our bit to help. So we called out to the community to ask them to donate their empty jars to our Byron Bay factory so that we could then use them for candles and distribute them to houses without electricity. Initially, we thought providing candlelight was our main priority, but then we realised that we could use our pure essential oil infusions to create a candle-lighting ritual to calm people's senses who have been traumatised and help to re-balance their emotions.
So with this in mind, we called out to the community for donations of empty glass or ceramic jars and our team went about pouring ‘Harmony’ candles each day. Then once set, we’ve had women drop by each day to pick up and distribute the candles to a nearby evacuation centre at Mullumbimby and Lismore. These Harmony candles are infused with rose geranium, sweet orange and ylang-ylang pure essential oils. The rose geranium invokes feelings of love while the sweet orange and ylang-ylang work together to calm the nervous system.