Meet the William West Candle Maker: Olga
Candle making is a historic profession, one that dates back hundreds of years to a time where candles were the only source of illumination on dark, cold winter’s nights. While today we think of candles as a thoroughly modern luxury, with their beautiful, evocative fragrances which imbue our homes with delightful scents, it is thought that the earliest beeswax candle was actually created by the ancient Egyptians, making the art of candle making a craft that has developed over centuries.
Here at William West Candles, we’re equally proud of our own long history in candle making. These historic roots are deeply interwoven with each candle we make, where our modern collection of candles is today made on the same site where candles have been made since 1661.
In today’s feature, we’re sitting down with our very own William West candle maker, Olga. She brings her artistic talent and nose for fragrance to our collection and works to develop our signature lines along with special candles to mark notable events, such as the Jubilee Candle launched to commemorate HRH The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.
You may have also seen Olga in the press recently as a result of her work creating the Flame of Freedom, a charity candle launched to raise funds for Olga’s birthplace, Ukraine.
- Can you tell us how you arrived at a career as a candle maker?
- From a young age, I’ve been crafting candles. When I was younger, I did this a lot with my parents just at home as a hobby after school. It was something I always enjoyed so I thought making it into my career was the ideal path for me. It’s something I am good at but also something that I genuinely enjoyed, meaning I love going to work each day.
What type of training did you have to undertake? How long did it take?
I attended many different candle making workshops hosted by manufacturers and qualified candlemakers over the years. I have also experimented a great deal, perfecting my method and learning more about how different scents pair together. Candle making is quite an artistic profession, so it’s something that you can enjoy practising with.
How long have you been at William West?
I have been here making William West candles for 18 months now.
What inspires you when you're working on new fragrances and scents?
I’m based in Windsor/Eton so I mainly base my fragrances on things connected to the area and to surrounding areas, such as Dorney. There is a lot of history here and I find that very inspiring.
How do you decide which scents go together?
Pairing fragrances and scents really is a process of trail and error. Sometimes you have a combination that you wouldn’t think works well together, but then you pair them and it does. When I am creating new fragrances, it’s important to know what others think, too. I have a few loyal existing customers and I give my new scents to test out and give me feedback. This part of the process is important and is something I really enjoy.
What makes the perfect William West candle?
For me, I would say it’s a combination of how the candle looks such as how the colours work aesthetically along with the way I make the candle. I spend a lot of time burning candles testing out various wicks and waxes so we’re always trying to improve and offer an even better product.
What scents do you have burning most frequently at home?
This changes daily and really depends on what mood I’m in and what fragrance I am wanting to smell that day. I would say right now it’s our Jubilee candle as we are approaching the special event and I feel like it’s definitely one of my favourites.
What tips do you have for someone choosing a candle for their home?
Make sure that the smell is something that you enjoy and that makes you happy, something that calms you down and you could smell all day. Also don’t be afraid to experiment and try something new. Layering different fragrances around the home can create a sense of different environments.
Why do you choose to hand pour your candles?
The reason I choose to hand pour our candles is because there are so many elements that must be correct and I feel like this can only be achieved hand poured.
What is a typical day like for you?
The very first thing I do when I arrive is process any orders that have come in overnight. I get these packaged carefully and sent off to the buyer. I can then spend the rest of my day making candles.
Are you working on any new fragrances or products right now that you're excited about?
I’m excited to see our Jubilee Candle launch. That’s for sale now and I am really looking forward to hearing customer feedback.
Apart from a good nose for fragrance, what else does it take to be a good candle maker?
Attention to detail is key. I like to make sure every candle that is made and sold is crafted to the highest quality I can offer. The wax must be poured at the correct temperature and the amount of fragrance added to each candle has to be just right.
How does working in the Cockpit influence your creativity?
Knowing that candles have been created in the building for over 300 years really is inspiring. It’s something that we really lean into at William West. We definitely have a real appreciation for the legacy and heritage of the space and when the building renovation is complete, we’re planning to host classes so others can tap into that inspiration and have a go at creating their own candles, too.