When did you set up your business and why?

I set up my business Wizard & Grace Essential Oil this year and have been selling online and through retailers since September.

However, a huge amount of work went into making this happen and I have been working on an incarnation of Wizard & Grace for the past few years.

The route to market was a long and windy road. I’m originally from a farm in Leitrim and now live in Kinsale and have worked in journalism and charity communications for 20 years in busy corporate roles.

To balance stress levels and my own health, I have always been interested in chemistry and making my own lotions and potions and skincare and doing a lot of yoga, often by candlelight. I have burned a lot of candles in my time!

When I had my daughter four years ago, my sense of smell, which has always been a bit sensitive, went into Robo-Cop territory. I could sniff a chemical fragrance or perfume a mile off.

I began to realise that the candles I thought were natural - because they said so on the box - were not. The reason I created Wizard & Grace Essential Oil candles is because I could not find the product I wanted to buy on the market.

While the candle market is saturated with different brands, the vast majority are making candles using artificial synthetic fragrance.

Fragrance is a highly unregulated space and even candles that mention essential oils on the packaging need only use a drop of essential oil in a vat of synthetic fragrance to justify it.

So I began to create my own, initially just for my own use or for gifting to family and friends.

As I began to get positive feedback, I decided to branch out and began to create the ‘Wizard & Grace’ brand - a labour of love really, as the name comes from my dog Wizard (a retired guide dog) and my daughter’s second name.

In addition, I found that a lot of candles are very sleek and minimalist looking, which is a lovely aesthetic for sure, but not for everyone.

I wanted to create something natural, but vibrant and design-led too and all inspired by nature’s amazing landscapes and colour.

The Wizard & Grace four intention candles are inspired by land, sea and sky, with a nod to our Celtic heritage with the use of intentional Gaelic words.

Can you explain your process?

When I started, I had been using essential oils for my own skincare for a while, so I was familiar with blending and using different essential oils for different purposes - frankincense for its meditative qualities or peppermint and rosemary for when you need that bit of zing.

The core requirement for me is that my candles would only use essential oils. This takes a lot of time and attention to get right.

I blend my own blends to evoke certain qualities. It is also significantly more expensive to create, as there is 12.5 grams of essential oils in each 160ml candle.

However, I have no interest in creating a lesser-quality product - I want something that supports people’s wellbeing, as well as creating a lovely smell in your home.

In addition, each essential oil blend and candle then needs its own tailored wick depending on how light or resinous they are. Each different candle has a different wick and getting this right took months and months of testing.

At the same time, I began to research waxes more and began making with soy wax, which is a lovely wax to use and burn. Unfortunately, as I began to really explore sustainability and how to create the healthiest candle - both for burning in our homes and ensuring the wellbeing of our planet - I discovered the significant unsustainable issues around the farming of soy.

As its popularity has grown, the harvesting of soy is creating deforestation and social justice issues through the use of intensive farming methods in origin countries, mostly South America. I could not justify using it for this reason.

I searched and researched for the most sustainable wax to use and found that rapeseed and coconut wax is the most sustainable wax available, made with renewable rapeseed and coconut.

I loved the fact that rapeseed can be sourced locally in Ireland and Europe. It is also slow burning and melts at a low temperature, which is perfect for the sensitive essential oils.

What is your best seller?

My best seller is a two-candle gift set of Bandia (goddess) and Draíocht, (magic/enchantment). I think it is a great set, as it is a real celebration of grounded femininity and enchantment and joy. Qualities I think the world needs more than ever.

Draíocht is perfect for this time of year, with a dark floral scent with frankincense, lime and ginger among other essential oils.

I have found that many people are buying them as gifts and then coming back to get one for themselves. This is great, as I think we need to remind people, especially women, that it’s important to focus on ourselves sometimes and gift to ourselves.

Women often can lose themselves in making sure everyone else is okay. I hope my candles help busy women find a moment to connect to themselves in their busy day.

What is it about your business that brings you joy?

My background is communications and journalism, so my computer days where I get lost in words and design are definitely my comfort days. I love the product development side and am always thinking up new ideas.

As a one-woman show though, I also then have to put on the sensible hat and focus on what I can do in my time and within budget to do a few things to a high quality, rather than try to do loads of different things and fall somewhere in the middle.

Most of all though, I love the thought of the Wizard & Grace candles bringing a bit of light and wellbeing to people. It makes me a little emotional to hear really positive feedback – it’s why I’ve created them in the first place, but it’s still a little overwhelming.

I love the intentionality of the candles and that maybe someone might stumble across my website or pop into a shop and see my Misneach (courage candle) for example and for it to be exactly what they need at that time.

They light it, fill their room up and inhale the life-affirming, protective and strengthening essential oils to help support them to step into their own strength and sense of worthiness.

My candles are fundamentally about supporting people’s wellbeing and connecting to ourselves, to our beautiful nature and to know that affirming words and supports of intention and encouragement are always available to us. We are never alone, even though it might feel that way at times, and there is always light and hope.

What are your hopes for 2023?

I think I would like to grow the business further, both through online and retail.

Wizard & Grace is currently stocked in many independent shops throughout Ireland and I would like to develop this side of the business and create really strong partnerships with my retail partners.

I would also like to create new products to support the current range - again with intentionality and wellbeing in mind. I love getting feedback of what people would like to see and I take that on board.

Overall, I hope the business thrives and that I get to support and reach many people who are looking for the same sort of self-care authentic and natural candle that I was.

What advice would you give to another start-up business?

I think you have to absolutely love what you do before you start up. It has to be a passion for you, as the hours are long and you are on your own at least at the start.

I know it’s a cliché, but even with the long hours that are needed to get orders ready, it really doesn’t feel like work to me.

I think having a farming background helps and has always helped throughout my corporate career, as it instils a work ethic from very early on. There is no 9 to 5 with farming and there is no 9 to 5 with your own business either.

I think planning, planning and more planning is really important. But then there always comes a point that you have to push the button, do it and 'go live' or launch or whatever that looks like.

If you wait until you feel everything is absolutely perfect, you might not do it, so it is important to start and you will find your way.

Visit www.wizardandgrace.com for more.