As part of our meet the maker blog series, we catch up with Nicola Males from one of our favourite candle brands – Willow & Finn. She shares with us details of her many talents, how she launched her own candle business and plans for the future.
Can you tell us about how you started Willow & Finn and is it just you who runs the business?
I started a successful microbakery business from home (Willow Bakery) about 4 years ago on the premise of creating really fresh, simple bread after struggling to find good quality bread in the supermarket or local bakery. I was at a bit of a turning point in my life, having hit fifty and sadly losing both my parents very close together. I was really focused on eating and living well, and wanted to consume more natural products. At the same time I was feeling the same about the candles I was always burning, and I was keen to make candles with the same simple principles. Too many candles today have a long list of nasty ingredients. I had more time to be creative so started making my own after having paused for a number of years.
Having been a massage therapist for over 15 years, essential oils have also been a go to stress relief for me, so essential oil candles have always been important to me. Before long people that were visiting the bakery started to ask what candles I was burning, and then asking if I would make some for them. With my son, Finn, so heavily involved in the bakery as well he wanted some element of the candle business to be named after him – so we landed on Willow & Finn as a name!
What did you do before you started Willow & Finn?
I juggled the bakery and a PR/marketing business for quite a while, but now I bake just once a month generally and the PR business is still ticking along although I have lots of help from freelancers. The candle business has only being going full strength about 7 months but it’s taking an increasing amount of my time, so I hope to get some help once lockdown is over.
Can you describe your workspace. Do you have a studio?
I had studio built in the garden around 18 months ago, it has been a god send – I had so much equipment and no where to put it. I’ve been able to expand more quickly now I have a separate place to work.
We love your mood-boosting candles, can you tell us more about how you developed this range?
With a background in massage therapy, essential oils have always been part of my life. I wanted to create a range of candles that were purely about getting therapeutic benefit from the scent. I looked at what I most needed in terms of maintaining wellness, and hit on the blends of oils that helped treat those. So, sleep – And so to Bed, relaxing – And Relax, uplifting – Back to Happiness, and to be soothed, Comforting Hug.
Which products do you enjoy making the most and why?
I love making all my products! I really enjoy creating blends from all the different aroma scents available, as well as the essential oils. Going in my workshop is a dream in the evening, the scent has soaked in the wooden walls and it’s bliss to chill out down there for a while.
How do you keep finding inspiration for creating new products?
The seasons definitely influence me, I like to have scent that really reminds of particular seasons. Dancing with the Daffodils was created because I wanted a scent that really reminded me of the waft of scent released from daffodils as you pass by them in their vase. Memories of times, or places always inspire me and the need to unwind and relax helps me create different blends of essential oils.
What are your favourite ways to relax and unwind?
For me of course lighting a candle, or having a massage, a nice deep warm bath, soft music, baking, and being with friends. Those are the things that really keep me going.
Who or what inspires you most in life?
Definitely all the amazing women out there building their own businesses is always a huge inspiration for me! I read Jo Malone’s biography recently – it was an interesting read, she was persistent despite knockbacks and I think if you’ve got some determination you’ll make it. I don’t have any huge ambitions, but I love having my own business and a feel like it’s a real achievement to be making a living from your own creations.
Finally, can you share with us any big or exciting plans for Willow & Finn in the future?
Well, just prior to the lockdown I was excited about taking some retail space locally that would have been large enough for me to run my candle making workshops (always very popular), as well as have a larger workspace to make, and to sell. It was in the perfect location, but obviously the timing has meant it had to be shelved. I’d love that to happen though in the future, it would give me so much space to be able to do all the things I’d like. But other than that, I’ve got some exciting new artisan products coming to the website after collaborations with some amazingly talented creators. And of course lots of new scents bubbling away for the Summer and Autumn, with some limited edition Christmas candles in the works!
Our new BOOST box includes a Back to Happiness candle from Willow & Finn, available to order now here.