Candles. They have been around for as long as we can remember, providing light when darkness inevitably comes around. Over the years, however, as other safer and more effective forms of artificial lightning began to dominate everyday living, including electricity, candles lost their primary use as sources of light.
But they still did not leave us, evolving into decorative, aromatic and even healing pieces that are beginning to, once again, dominate homes. “Candles have evolved over time from being just a source of light to having tons of benefits to different people. These days, candles have become more versatile, from being a perfect way to subtly add a lovely fragrance to your space and cover up unwelcome odours, to creating a welcoming, warm and cosy ambience,” says Boluwatife Adeife, the creative director and head chandler of Scents Pro Luxury.
Ada Kobimo, CEO of Adliment Scents Ltd agrees with her. “Candles are decorators; they help add beauty to your house as a work of art.” But beyond their aesthetics benefits, Ada, who says she is gifted with the uncanny ability to “distinguish between scents” and can “describe the notes of whatever fragrance you have going on” without knowing you, explains that the materials a candle is made with can turn it into a healing tool. “[Scented candles] have health benefits, especially the ones made with soy wax… and infused with essential oils. Essential oils are healing oils that help awaken our bodies to heal themselves and enter us through inhalation, going in through our pores and oral administration. If you burn a candle with say eucalyptus oil or lavender, it’s going to help calm you down and make you sleep better.”
Tallula Esterhuizen, owner and creative director of South African based fragrance company, Toastie Candles, has a slightly different perspective. “[They have the] ability to help you stop and really be in the moment. But smell is the best at doing this. It is the most underrated of all our senses. When you smell something beautiful, you stop – often people close their eyes. Smell is very closely linked to memory and scents can transport you back in time.”
The Multifaceted uses of scented candles
Why would anyone want to consider scented candles if they produce almost the same effect as diffusers or even incenses? Unlike other sources of home fragrances, the jars and receptacles scented candles come in always almost take up a new sense of purpose once their original inhibitor’s time on earth is over.
“We have seen some clients repurpose the jars as pen/pencil holders, makeup brush holders, flower vase etc.,” says Olubukola Umaru, founder of Lagos-based home fragrance goods company, Aromascentric. Onyejekwe Genevive Ngozi, creative director of Genny Ray Fragrances whose love of scents was “nurtured from an early age by my mom,” and who makes luxury scented candles as a way to remember a loved one by incorporating their favourite scents into waxy pieces, decided to try a different route after seeing how customers used the containers as “makeup brush holder, as a vase for artificial flowers and even storage jars.”
“Recently, we rebranded and added a pouch to our packaging and it has been a rave amongst our clients because it can be used to store keepsake items like pieces of jewellery [and] accessories.” Sustainability is also something Tallula is considering for her scented candles. “I am hoping to offer a refilling service next year so that people can send back their jars to be refilled with their favourite candle,” she tells us.
Scented candles as the new luxury decor item
This year, chandlers and fragrance companies began to notice an interesting phenomenon as the world stayed hidden in the relative safety of houses, shielding themselves from the wrath of the Coronavirus.
“There’s was a spike in sales of scented candles during the lockdown,” says Boluwatife. Ada affirms this statement, saying that after she found the courage to venture outside and bring home some of her candles stuck in her store, she sold out everything in just two days.
“We think the spike was majorly caused by the fact that most people were confined in their homes which gave them the time to take a pause and care for themselves and their living space. People began to see the need for self-care, to meditate, relax and immerse themselves in the warmth of their loved ones and our scented candles help set the tone for these healthy activities. We also believe a lot of people used the scented candles to tackle anxiety during the lockdown period,” explains Genevieve regarding the “mass orders” she received during the lockdown.
Olubukola shares this sentiment.
“The socioeconomic impact of the Covid 19 pandemic brought a lot of people under undue stress and quite a number of people were looking for ways to relieve the stress & anxiety and therefore turned to scented candles. Also, people were spending more time at home and wanted a more relaxing and welcoming home atmosphere.”
Currently, they all believe that this is a trend that would continue well into the upcoming holidays. “Scented candles are very festive and bring this warm, happy feeling to a room [that] families [who] gather together during that period [crave],” Adegbola Juliana, creative director of Ondo-based Jhulian Royson Perfumery says. Kanyinsola Jide -Adekola, founder of QCandles by Kanyin. agrees. “Yes, there will be a spike in sales. We do bespoke orders and during the festive season, corporate organizations and a lot of individuals contact us to put together boxes for their clients and loved ones.”
The lockdown may have turned scented candles into the ultimate luxury home item, and the festive season looks like it would drive its popularity even higher but all fragrance makers and retailers I spoke with believe that its newfound position in the world of luxury would outlast seasons. It only makes sense; after all, who wouldn’t like an item that looks good, smells good and makes them feel good?