Hi Fergus & Angie, please tell everyone a bit about yourselves and introduce your brand & products.
Hello! Cairn Candle Company hand craft earth-first luxury candles from our home in the Cairngorms National Park, just outside Grantown on Spey. We have lived in Strathspey all our lives and have a view of the Cairngorm mountains from our kitchen window, hence Cairn was born. We are endlessly inspired by our surroundings and try to distill this passion into our products and give our customers a little slice of Scottish cosiness for their homes.
The candles are made from slow burning and sustainably sourced soy wax combined with essential oils and Scottish premium fragrance oils. Each candle is hand poured, created with a lot of care and attention to detail. It’s a process we’ve completely fallen in love with.
We’re a mum and son duo and we started at the end of 2018 after a couple of years testing and perfecting our recipes. Mum’s a retired primary school teacher and had loved making candles with her pupils. She has always been aware of the power of scents to enhance wellbeing and the draw of the simple, single flame to centre the self, to be still. We also feel strongly that candlelight helps people of all ages to connect more closely. I work in media and love the creative aspect of it all. We saw an opportunity to bring together our skills and haven’t looked back since! Our shared desire to create earth-first luxury – beautiful candles which give back to the earth – is at the centre of our philosophy.
How would you describe your style and where do you take inspiration from for your collections?
Cairn’s style is minimalist and rustic. There’s a real beauty to the simplicity and utilitarian aesthetic of our products. We work to create candles that are beautifully timeless, both in their fragrance and style. We are avid walkers and the tin candles are very special to us, reminding us of long hikes to local bothies and their ageless charm.
Our inspiration has always derived from our home in the beautiful Cairngorms National Park. It’s a magical place! We wanted to find a way to pay homage to it and to connect with others who have the same love and care for the wilds. We launched our ‘Cairngorm Collection’ a few months ago. It’s a series of three fragrances, each named after and inspired by places we hold dear in the area. We chose to include quotes from the Father of the National Parks, John Muir, as his philosophy of interconnectedness is very special to the good folk of Badenoch and Strathspey. It was quite an endeavour deciding on scents and felt like a huge responsibility to represent not just a physical place, but the depth of how so many of us feel about where we live. However we got there in the end and the collection has been so well received. We like to think the new range brings the outdoors inside for our customers.
What is it like running a family business?
It’s a lot of fun! We’re really lucky that we’re always on the same page when it comes to decision making. It was definitely tricky in the early days knowing whether the choices we were making were the right ones but after almost two years it feels like we’ve developed a really clear path for the business. Certainly our shared love of the forests around us made our wish to plant trees be centred at the core of all we do. To date we have planted over 10,000 and it’s been lovely that people want to help with this. It’s exciting to see what’s round every corner. We are just loving the adventure of it all!
Where do you like to create your work?
We’ve got an old steading in the grounds of our croft that has been occupied as the ‘candle workshop’… although it’s being repointed at the moment, so we’ve temporarily relocated back to the kitchen table!
Can you tell us a bit about the process behind creating your candles?
There’s something really tranquil about the traditional process of candlemaking. It’s also quite like cooking so it feels very nurturing. The method is very precise but focusing on the detail and taking time to get it right always feels really mindful. A highlight is definitely watching the golden melted wax slowly change colour and solidify into a creamy white. Delivering candles to shops or customers really does feel like giving a wee gift. It’s magical!
“Sustainability is the very root of Cairn’s ethos with a mission to create earth-first products and be as sustainable and ethical as possible.” Can you share with us a bit more about this and why this is important to you?
We knew from the outset when we set up Cairn that we wanted to ensure it was as green and ethical as it could be. As with many product-based businesses, there’s an inherent impact on the planet so we wanted to do all we could to ensure that was minimised and offset. It’s really important to us. Our latest collection is completely plastic-free, 100% vegan and animal-cruelty free, featuring sustainable soy wax and biodegradable packaging. Since we launched we have planted a tree for every candle sold. We currently plant through a partnership with Trees For The Future, working to improve the livelihoods of impoverished farmers by revitalizing degraded lands in Sub-Saharan Africa. Sustainability is at the heart of Cairn and it’s something we want to continue to build on in the future. It is lovely that so many people connect with what we are trying to do.
Can you tell us about the materials you use and where you like to source them?
We source completely from UK-based suppliers and Scottish perfume houses. We try to keep things as local as we can!
Can you tell us a bit about the area you live/work in?
We love the Cairngorms and always feel so incredibly lucky to have such wilderness and beauty on our doorstep. My brothers and I have always felt nurtured by our community and our surroundings. From the mountain tops, to the Caledonian Forest, beautiful lochs and rivers – this area sustains us. Even living here for as long as we have, we still feel like we are discovering new places all the time. We’re so grateful for how our business has been received and helped to thrive locally. We like to think that our candles evoke memories of cherished times for our customers.
What would you recommend doing/seeing in your area to someone visiting?
There is so much available to visitors to the area and whether you’re an adventurer or a peace seeker amidst nature there is something for everyone. Our big tip would be to make sure you set aside enough time to properly explore.
One of our secret favourites has to be Uath Lochans in Glen Feshie. There are various lengths of walk available but most base around a spectacular view over four small lochs nestled amidst the forest. The beauty is quite breathtaking and walkers passing on the winding paths have nothing but smiles for each other.
Are you working on any new products at the moment?
We’re currently planning for Christmas so lots of beautiful, warm, rich scents. Christmas is the heart of candle season so it’s important that we prepare early. We’re also looking to expand our honey jar candle range. People love to reuse them. We have been experimenting with reclaimed pottery also and it feels good to find local pieces which can be reused as candle containers. Watch this space!
Can you pick out 4 or 5 things in your working space that you can’t live without?
As boring as it sounds, we have to keep track of all the various ingredients across all our different fragrances. It saves any mind-boggling confusion and keeps us on track!
They’re not allowed in the workshop, but they’re always nearby or peering in the windows. They love playing with pine cones and serve as a constant reminder to chill out when work gets busy.
Nothing better than having a wee boogie while pouring some candles.
They may be lollipop sticks with holes drilled in them but they save us from off-centre wicks and for that we are very grateful!
WHERE CAN WE FIND YOUR WORK?