Interview by Fatema Sitabkhan
Photography by Michael Hartwick
Instagram is such a brilliant social media tool that has helped increase a level of networking and connectivity with individuals; both locally as well as globally.
It is through this powerful form of media that I was acquainted with the lovely business Primrose Hill Set Candles. A gorgeous South Australian business whose name is a homage to the A-list approach towards a renegade essence, Primrose Hill Set specializes in creating ethical soy wax candles that aim to replicate a sense of sensuality and substance.
Having supported each other via social media over the last couple of months and making an appearance at popular community events and markets, such as the Creative Design Markets, Port Winterfest, and Gathered SA, I was fortunate enough to score an interview with Rachel de Brenni-Burnard – the founder and owner of Primrose Hill Set Candles:
Tema: Who is the face behind PHS?
Rachel: Rachel de Brenni-Burnard – I am the founder and owner of Primrose Hill Set 100% soy wax scented candles, creating vegan friendly and ethically made candles, hand poured in small batches.
Tema: How long is the process to make your beautifully scented candles? What does the process involve?
Rachel: The process of creating a soy scented apothecary jar candle includes hand-washing the glass jar and applying the safety label. I then stick the lead-free wick into the centre of the candle. The correct amount of melted soy wax is blended with the premium scent and hand-poured into the jar. The candle is left to set until it is perfectly hard. Depending on the weather, this normally takes approximately 2 hours. Each candle is then hand polished and a fragrance label is attached.
Tema: What would you like a first-time customer to know about PHS?
Rachel: Each Primrose Hill Set candle is handmade in South Australia, using GMO-free high-grade soy wax with premium Australian fragrances and hand-poured using lead free wicks. We pride ourselves on creating uniquely blended scents creating unforgettable and original scented candles.
Tema: Whereabouts are your candles made? How do you source your ingredients to make the candles?
Rachel: All Primrose Hill Candles are proudly made in Mile End, South Australia. All our premium fragrances are sourced from Australia. We use the finest 100% soy wax from America (one of the biggest producers of quality soy wax in the world). All our wicks, safety labels and containers are bought from Australian companies. Our fragrance labels are designed and printed in South Australia.
Tema: What do you think helps your candles stand out from the rest?
Rachel: What makes Primrose Hill Set Candles stand out from our competitors is that we blend scents that are based on memories creating refreshingly different scented candles. All our candles are vegan friendly, non-toxic, kosher certified and cruelty free. Made in small batches, our candles are freshly made and are a delight to burn. Our 100% soy wax candles burn 30-50% longer and do not contain the toxins that paraffin wax candles do.
Tema: What are some of your popular / best-selling candles and why do you think that is the case?
Rachel: Our best-selling candle is our Cucumber Gin and Tonic soy scented candle. It is a zesty blend of cucumber, basil, grapefruit and lemon fragrances. The inspiration behind this candle is that many years ago, I had the most fantastic cucumber gin & tonic drink and I remember the smell and taste being incredible! I have a long memory for scents, so I recreated that memory in a candle form. All our candle fragrances have been created to capture a special memory in my life.
Tema: For someone who doesn’t know the first thing about appreciating the beauty and aroma of candles, what would you suggest to be an ideal experience of getting the most out of PHS?
Rachel: Burn our apothecary jar candles for two hours at first, to make your candle last longer – this will allow the top layer of wax to fully melt, ensuring an even burn when next lighting your candle. It is very important to trim your wick so that it isn’t longer than six millimeters in length. The longer the wick, the quicker your candle will burn. Our candles have a strong fragrance load; therefore, the scent will linger in your house for many hours for yourself, friends and family to enjoy!
Tema: What have you found to be rewarding about being a small business in a state like SA, where the #ichoosesa movement is strong?
Rachel: I am finding that more people are increasingly interested in supporting local businesses and wanting to know how the products that they are purchasing are made. Going to markets has become very popular and I have noticed that people making more informed choices regarding non-toxic and cruelty free artisan wares. Campaigns like #ichoosesa are fantastic to keep the message of supporting local businesses in the forefront of people’s minds.
Tema: What have been some of the biggest challenges that you have faced as a small business and what do you do to overcome them?
Rachel: The hardest part of being a small business is that sometimes, you can feel very isolated and alone, especially when working from home by yourself. It is important to wake up everyday with a positive attitude and to remain true to your business vision. I have luckily experienced wonderful support from my husband and son, who have believed in my dream from the start and have supported me – both financially and emotionally – to follow my passion for making candles. I have also found that other small business market stall holders have been a source of wonderful encouragement, as well as family and friends.
Tema: What inspires you to come up with your beautiful selection of candles, such as the fruity ones as well the more unique ones, such as Roses and Sunshine (!!!)
Rachel: When creating the scents for our soy candle range, I have had the pleasure of revisiting scented memories from my life that our candle range fragrances evoke. Our Roses and Sunshine candles were blended to capture the essence of walking through the Adelaide Hills which is where I grew up. This candle has the fragrance combination of rose, fir needle, geranium and blackcurrant. For so many people this scent reminds them of beautiful childhood memories of playing in family rose gardens. That is the beauty of scented candles, they can truly transport you back to happy times shared or be part of creating your own new special memories.
Tema: Do you have your own shopfront, or do you primarily conduct your business online?
Rachel: Primarily, our candle sales are conducted via our website with a link to our Etsy shop. We do ship all our candles worldwide and offer our wonderful Australian customers free postage Australia wide. We are also stocked in The Field Wholefoods at the Brickworks and Golden Grove. Otherwise, we are popping up at quality markets around Adelaide. We love meeting customers and finding out what their favourite candle scent is!
Tema: What are some regular markets that you make an appearance at?
Rachel: You can find Primrose Hill Set Candles at the Gathered Design Markets (Queen’s Theatre), Creative Design Markets (Plant 4 Bowden) and Posh Market events at Hart’s Mill (Port Adelaide). Check us out on Instagram for updated market stall information and come smell our lovely candles!
Tema: Is there anything else that you’d like your customers to know about PHS?
Rachel: The Primrose Hill Set is a term commonly used to describe the infamous group of ‘A’ listers who lived in and frequented the Primrose Hill and Notting Hill areas in London during the mid-1990’s. While the Primrose Hill Set pays homage to the renegade approach to style and fashion by Kate Moss, Jude Law, Ewan McGregor, Sadie Frost and co., the essence of our brand lies within the moment in time that was created by these pioneers of style. The Primrose Hill Set coined an atmosphere where every night was a celebration, where whimsy and fancy were the norm and endless possibilities abounded. It is with that pioneering spirit in mind that the Primrose Hill Set candle range is founded.