Strong business scents on the Northern Rivers
"SCENT is something that can take you somewhere else," says Byron Bay candle-maker Angela Honeywell, who may well be "scent" to Chicago thanks to her business acumen.
Ms Honeywell and husband Tom Miller have only been selling candles online through The Candle Library for just over a year, but their idea for a candle subscription service has earned them nomination for a national business award.
Next month they will find out whether judges have voted them Best Online Retailer in the inaugural GALA (Gift and Lifestyle) Awards, to be presented at a cocktail party overlooking Sydney Harbour in the new ICC Sydney Grand Ballroom.
The overall winner of 23 award categories will be invited to attend Global Innovation Awards in Chicago later this year.
"I haven't been to Chicago before ... but we sell an American candle brand with a very different aesthetic to ours and we've visited the owners," Ms Honeywell said.
"They were like us, a husband and wife team with a small studio. Now they have a huge warehouse in LA after just a few years."
Ms Honeywell said she was surprised when she realised how popular candles were, selling them in her former Byron Bay shop.
"Some had great packaging but the scents weren't (always) so great," she said.
"I saw the same scents popping up in every range, like coconut lime, and I had a lot of requests for Australian-made candles."
She noticed some customers were hesitant to burn special candles and unsure of spending money on luxe varieties in case they didn't like the smell at home.
Confessing to at least 30 perfumes in her wardrobe, Ms Honeywell said she wanted to give customers a chance to test different scents without worrying they'd run out of candles.
Candle Club members receive a new candle from The Candle Library every month, each with a different, surprise scent from one of the 25 brands stocked.
"You're less likely to worry about burning your special candles if you know you've got another one coming 20 days later," Ms Honeywell said.
Smelling denim shorts and beer
Every component of The Candle Library branded candles is Australian made, from the fragrance oils used, to the reusable ceramic pots housing the eco-friendly 100% soy wax.
"My husband pours them, he's the candle maker," she Ms Honeywell said.
"My husband and I still work five nights per week in our Byron Bay restaurant.
"Byron has been so busy (over the holiday period); it's calmed down now."
Making a batch of candles takes at least 24 hours and the most they can do at one time is 150 to 200 candles.
"It took us almost 12 months to get the recipe right," Ms Honeywell said.
"All of our scents are completely custom. We tell the (fragrance house) what we want it to smell like - I give them a sensory description and a story - they send a sample and we go back and forth until we're happy."
Inspiration for scents is often related to specific times and places, like this summer's Sunbleached Denim fragrance, designed to transport the senses to days spent at the beach relaxing in cut-offs and tees.
The busy husband and wife team make custom candles for other businesses ranging from retail stores, fashion brands, beauty salons and wellness companies.
"We did one for (Byron Bay brewers) Stone and Wood, they wanted one that smelt like their Pacific Ale so we sent a beer to the fragrance house and went from there," Ms Honey well said.
"We're still figuring out the online market place.
"It's so different to in-person retail - you're not getting the interaction.
"We still don't know what the science is, sometimes we've got no idea why people buy what they do but if people like something, they'll buy in bulk instead of buying just one to save on postage.
"Setting up the payment gateway in the website was a bit tricky but we used a local web company called Thirty Acres and they were great.
"Our focus this year will be pushing the subscription, I don't think there are too many other businesses in the homeware and lifestyle industry doing that."