Keep Candles is the brainchild of sisters Olivia and Marnie Walker, who were lit up by the idea of reducing the waste produced from the hundreds of thousands of decorative and scented candles burnt every year.
They hand blend and pour 100% natural, plant-based wax into reusable containers which have been hand-crafted by a British potter, creating zero-waste, reusable candles. Keep Candles are free from paraffin and synthetic oils and release a clean burn using a mixture of coconut and rapeseed wax, cotton wicks and pure essential oils.
Hello! Thank you for talking to us about your beautiful candles. What inspired you to start on this business journey together?
Marnie Walker: We have always wanted to work together (we’re best friends as well as sisters) and to work for ourselves. We were also keen to start a product business after both having worked in service industries. We liked the idea of being able to create a physical product that would be a lovely gift and that would help people to create memories. We have been brought up as candle fanatics – our family lights candles for dinner every evening so dinners at home always feel like a special occasion – even on Mondays!
What did you both do before setting up Keep Candles?
Olivia Walker: We both work full-time jobs as well as running Keep Candles. Marnie works in finance as a private client tax manager. I used to work as a private banker at Barclays, but I left to join one of the world’s top cocktail bars as a cocktail designer. I then moved to Notpla, a sustainable packaging start-up that is pioneering the use of seaweed as an alternative to single-use plastic. I have recently dropped down to part-time to concentrate on Keep Candles. I have always known that ultimately, I want to work for myself so at the moment every spare minute outside of work is spent on Keep Candles!
What are the pros and cons of working with a sibling? What tips would you give others looking to work with their family members?!
Olivia Walker: It was quite overwhelming when we lived and worked together as we never stopped, but since moving out – Marnie with her husband (!) and me with my boyfriend – we have such a great working relationship!
Don’t get me wrong; we can get frustrated with the other at times but at least we can be fully honest and know each other’s weaknesses and tipping points when the other is annoying them. Ultimately though, we make a great team. Marnie is more creative and I am more analytical, so our skills complement each other.
Marnie Walker: As a family, we all love all things lifestyle – particularly food, drink, adventuring and music so we’ve joked about bringing our parents into the business too to expand into something more lifestyle-focused – I don’t think any of us have decided what % joke/real this is yet, but we are entertaining the idea!
The candle refill is a great idea! How does that work?
Marnie Walker: We have candle refills for our classic and tall mug candles. All you need to do is empty out the remaining wax and wick holder at the bottom of the vessel (washing up liquid and hot water works perfectly) – you easily can do this bain-marie style. Pop it in the dishwasher if you wish and then order a wax refill of your scent of choice from our website.
Refills arrive wrapped in recyclable tissue paper and you literally just pop them into the empty vessel – light, refill, reuse! So, if you’re not ready to start using your vessel as a mug then you can keep using it as a dreamy candle.
Why did you choose coconut and rapeseed wax rather than soy?
Olivia Walker: We knew we wanted to use plant wax that burns cleanly so that our customers didn’t have to ever worry about air pollution in the home. Coconuts are a sustainable high yield crop and harvesting the oil to make wax is an organic process. It’s one of the most expensive waxes around but it’s worth the price due to its slow, even burn and great scent throw. Coconut wax is very soft on its own, so we add rapeseed wax to firm up the natural texture of our candles.
Rapeseed wax is a sustainable wax that is widely produced in the UK and Europe. The wax also has a great scent throw and a long burn time compared with other natural waxes. When flowering, the rapeseed plant is also the main crop visited by honeybees!
In our opinion, coconut and rapeseed waxes are currently the most sustainable waxes on the market. In comparison to other waxes, they have supply chains with the most ethically transparent practices, which is extremely important to us.
Marnie Walker: Although soy wax can be environmentally friendly, not all soy wax is produced sustainably as there has been a large increase in demand for soy products in recent years, including soy wax. We decided not to use soy wax due to the increase in negative media around the topic and because there has been increasing deforestation in highly biodiverse regions of the planet, such as the Amazon rainforest.
Do you have recommendations for how to use your candles to create a stunning Xmas table setting?
Olivia Walker: Keep it natural – use fresh ivy, eucalyptus, roses, hydrangeas. In particular, we like greens and whites with hints of other colours such as pinks or oranges. It’s also super easy to make Christmas wreaths…keep an eye on our Instagram to get extra tips and tricks!
Apart from candles, what else ‘lights’ you both up in your lives?!
Marnie Walker: Music, dancing, food, cocktails, nature and spending time with friends and family.
Olivia Walker: We LOVE entertaining – most dinner parties at our homes (or family home) usually don’t finish until 3 or 4 am. We do love burning the candle at both ends!
Follow Keep Candles at @keepcandles for regular updates from Marnie and Olivia!
Images: Lydia Collins