ELLE Beauty Director Sophie Beresiner has extended her talents to pastures new, founding No.22, a luxury candle company that has taken the Instagram world by storm. Beginning humbly in her kitchen and now favoured by Marie Claire, Stylist and the Telegraph Magazine, No.22 candles are hand-poured, crafted in the UK and displayed in beautiful ceramic pots - and now proudly stocked by The Conran Shop.
We speak to Sophie about her passion for home comforts, how she juggles two jobs and the inspiration behind her unique olfactory creations.
Tell us a little bit about how No.22 came about
I am a craft geek and I thought making my own candles would be a nice calming hobby, so I set about creating the kind of candle I wished I could buy for my own home – one that looks lovely even when it isn’t lit, since that makes up 80% of a candles lifetime. I began gifting them to my friends who put them on Instagram and then a big retailer stumbled across them and asked me to come in for a meeting. It really snowballed from there.
With a background in beauty, was moving into home fragrance a natural progression? Or have you faced any unexpected challenges in starting a brand from scratch?
Being Beauty Director of ELLE UK means I have a very good understanding of what makes a fantastic candle and what the market looks like. It is pretty saturated already but because I didn’t plan on launching a brand initially, I didn’t over think it. Perhaps if I had I would’ve come up with a very different offering. It’s proved to me that my instinct is an important part of this whole process! The challenges have been discovering a whole new business as I go along, everything from manufacture to suppliers to accounting to European standards to marketing. It's fascinating but tough! I am also obsessed with perfecting the product so I’m always considering tweaks and, on some days, a complete rethink of certain aspects!
How has your insider knowledge of the beauty industry influenced your No.22 candle creations?
I definitely understand my consumer, since I write and review for that person, and actually, I am that person too! I’m a huge luxury candle fan, so I have a strong frame of reference. I try hard not to be too heavily influenced by my insider knowledge as I want to progress the brand in a unique way. Saying that, I knew that I should include a floral scent in my original line up, since it is more commercially viable, and sure enough, 'Centrepiece' is my best-seller!
What is your process when concocting one of your signature scents?
I first think of the scents I want to enhance my own home with, then I try to deconstruct what I imagine makes up that smell – like a painter would reinterpret a photograph I suppose. For instance 'Bookshelf', if I really think about it, is constructed of the leather hardback, mixed with a little dustiness from a high shelf. The old, yellowed pages actually smell kind of sweet so I added in some vanilla and went from there. I play around with various oils in my kitchen before I take it to my perfumer and we concoct a professional-grade interpretation. The 'Bookshelf' scent is an exact replica of my original kitchen experiment, in fact.
What inspires you creatively?
Everything! I am a very visual person, I see everything as a potential picture, my own home included, so I decorate it with pieces I love to look at. My ELLE office is an incredibly inspiring place, I’m lucky I get creative stimulation every day. My candles were certainly inspired by my love of fashion, which translates directly to my home – it's where the knitwear thing started.
What is the importance of No.22’s packaging and the aesthetic of each candle?
For me, the simple light from a candle is comforting in itself, it’s soft and warm, and the first thing I do if I want to create ambience is enhance a space by candlelight. So it makes perfect sense to me that the entire product should deliver the same effect, even when it isn’t lit. There is nothing more comforting than soft, cosy knitwear to me, so I knew it had to be included in the design. The feel of unglazed ceramic is so satisfying, with a pleasingly pure aesthetic. The scents should be nostalgic and homely, the palette muted and calming. There are some exciting variants in the pipeline. Watch this space!
If you had to choose, which would you say is your favourite of all your candles? (literally Sophie’s Choice)
Easily 'Bookshelf'. I’m really proud of the scent, it’s the first one I really cracked and I’ve never smelt anything like it. My husband loves it too so we always have one burning in the bathroom.
Candle-making: a science or an art?
Oh my god - SUCH a science. My kitchen became a wax lab for about two years until I perfected the perfect burn. There are so many variables, the container size, shape, material, wax type, wick type, width, length, material, and then the scent effects everything too. Each attempt needs to be cured for about two weeks before you can run a good test burn, so I’ll wait eagerly, light it and watch the melt pool fall, or the flame flicker, and then I have to start all over again. Luckily, I don’t hand-make them anymore so we got our kitchen back!
What should we consider when choosing a fragrance for our homes?
Nothing more than if you love it or not. Fragrance is so emotive and personal that I couldn’t suggest you never burn a gourmand scent in your living room, because whilst I might find it cloying, you might find it triggers a memory that makes you happy. A good buying tip though: if they are displayed under a glass dome, lift the dome and smell the inside, rather than the wax itself. It’s a more pure indication of how the candle will smell when lit.
Lastly, how do you balance both roles, as Beauty Director of ELLE and founder of No. 22? Copious amounts of caffeine? Teleportation?
It has to be a passion project because No.22 takes up so much time, if I didn’t love it I would have collapsed from exhaustion by now! I try to treat is as any other job and allocate set hours to the tasks I know need to be completed. When one work day ends at 6pm, my ‘other’ work day will start. I have a very understanding husband and I’m a proficient multi-tasker. I also have two laptops so I can keep both jobs as separate and organised as possible!
We are delighted to offer No.22 candles both in-store and online. Click here to view the collection.