We recently interviewed an incredible candle maker, based in South Devon, Ochre and Flax.
Jo Dymock, the founder, has spared some time to answer some questions on the business so far, what is to come and her experience with Stitched Boxes.
Can you tell me a bit about Ochre and Flax and how the business came about?
I’ve always made candles – my older sister received a candle making kit for her birthday and I was fascinated – I finally got my own a year or two later after some serious nagging! As an adult, I continued to make candles for myself and as gifts.
I started using the ritual of lighting a candle to help me find the joy in the ordinary little routines that make up my day, and via a long circuitous route involving a couple of mini-businesses, three children, divorce, a couple of house moves and a lot of introspection about what I really wanted to be when I grew up (answer: happy, calm, fulfilled), Ochre & Flax was born, created to help others live life on purpose and find those little moments of joy in the everyday.
What is the meaning behind the name ‘Ochre and Flax’?
Naming the business was by far the hardest part of the whole enterprise! I wanted something that felt rooted both in the local area (I live in South Devon, between Dartmoor and the sea), as well as feeling very much ‘me’. Ochre used to be mined and used in nearby Brixham, to protect the canvas sails of local fishing boats and gave them their distinctive red and orange colours.
My favourite colour palette also happens to be those particular shades of yellow, mustard, brown and orange that ochre creates – you’ll see those colours crop up frequently in my branding. The flax portion of the name came because I try to make my business as sustainable as possible, in terms of raw materials and minimising waste. The flax plant is a constant reminder of how efficient nature can be – flax provides us with fibres for linen, flaxseed, and flax oil, as well as being rather pretty to look at – making it a pleasing reminder of how much we can do with the resources around us if we put our minds to it.
How much does environmental sustainability mean to you and the business?
I think it’s simply not possible to have a business these days and not consider sustainability. I also recognise that any business will have some impact, so rather than religiously sticking to a single principle like ‘I will be entirely plastic free’ I try to weigh up every single decision within the business on its own merits, making the most sustainable choice I can within the limitations of a small business, and considering reusability alongside recycling.
I use only pure essential oils to scent my candles, plastic-free packing materials, and soy ink printed tissue and stickers, and one of the reasons for choosing Stitched Boxes was not only because of the recyclable nature of the boxes, but because they are robust and pleasing enough for my customers to continue to use as functional boxes long after the candles are burnt – a recyclable but flimsy cardboard box still feels wasteful to me, and I’d rather my customers have something reusable. I also offer refills for my candles, as even though the glass jars are recyclable, they can also be reused almost infinitely before even hitting the recycling chain.
What is your proudest moment as a business so far?
Every December feels like my proudest moment when the business goes bananas with Christmas orders. It shocks me every single time, and I am filled with the most enormous thrill, realising that this is something that I created from the ground up, stuck to my principles on when it came to sustainable packaging, pure essential oils (far more expensive and trickier to source and work with than synthetic fragrances) and a million other tiny decisions.
I find it astonishing that I turned this idea in my head into something that people know about and choose to return to year after year. Nothing makes me happier than one of my oldest customers ordering candles for their family gifts for the third year running!
The future of Ochre and Flax, what do you see?
So much – I’m fairly sure I have more ideas than I have years left of life in me! But the next big project is one I’ve had dancing around my head for a while; to create a gorgeous (Stitched Boxes) presentation box with a small-UK-business-made journal, my very favourite brand of fountain pen, a mood-boosting candle, and a detailed for planning out goals and dreams for the year ahead, creating a life lived on purpose and full of ways to find joy in those ordinary moments. I’m aiming to get them launched before Christmas, with a view to spending January on some really gentle planning and goal setting for 2022.
Your Experience With Stitched Boxes
What was the purpose of the Stitched Boxes purchase?
I recently launched a new range of Daily Rituals candles – four blends designed to support finding joy in the ordinary moments throughout the day, from the first moments of a morning routine through to falling into bed at night.
I wanted to present them in a way that felt beautiful but also practical – I wanted a box that would transport them safely and feel like a real treat to receive and open, but also feel useful for reuse after the candles were gone. I am planning to work with Stitched Boxes to create a smaller duo box for my seasonal blend candles later in the year, as well as larger gift hampers (lots of ideas brewing!) as I think boxes tie in so beautifully with my brand and ethos.
Why did you choose Stitchedboxes and would you recommend us?
I chose Stitched Boxes because I felt really welcomed by both the website and the communication I had – I have so often tried to source materials for my business and felt my custom wasn’t valued because I have a small business, and it can often be tricky to find a supplier who is happy to work with small quantities. I changed my order about five times before confirming it, and the customer services team were incredibly helpful each time, never making me feel like I was wasting their time. Obviously, I would recommend you, but a little bit of me wishes I could keep you all to myself!