Launching a candle-making company was exciting, something different, and a challenge. We called it Tarn Candles & Melts because the soy wax products we make are inspired by nature.
The name Tarn comes from beautiful pools of mountain water, mostly found up in the Lake District – somewhere we’ve loved for many years. And the idea tied in perfectly with the beautiful pools of molten wax that are created when you first light up a candle.
Our candle-making journey started because of the countryside – and in particular blackberries!
The summer months are wonderful. Early evening walks with the dog mean green spaces, hedgerows, plus an abundance of summer fruits in the hedgerows. Blackberries mean amazing fresh puddings, breakfast toppings and of course jam. Loads of jam!
With late summer comes thoughts of Christmas. If you don’t start planning, the festive period soon creeps up on you. So we started thinking.
With a strong environmental ethic, we’ve tired of buying the same old throw-away stuff as presents. Token gestures that don’t mean much, and come wrapped in multiple layers of packaging and plastic. More often than not, those unwanted “gifts” end up at the tip, then landfill.
That’s no longer good enough for us. It was time to do something different. It was time to make gifts for friends and family. Something useful, something elegant, and something that reflected the love and dedication that had gone into creating it.
Candles for Christmas
We could almost see the look of horror on people’s faces when we suggested that we all crafted something, and swapped the end-results at Christmas. But our minds were made up.
So it started with jam. The blackberries – and there were kilos of them – were perfect for freezing. Whip them out of storage in late November, cook up a few batches, and then present them in reused jars with a personal, hand-made message. Perfect.
It wasn’t much, though. So that’s where the candle idea came in. If we were making jam, we could make candles. And not just any candles.
We thought about charity shop tea cups, some clean-burning soy wax, with essential oils blended ourselves. Now we just needed to learn the craft!
Plenty of research followed, much testing, a few bargain hunts around the Milnrow and Rochdale charity shops for lovely old tea cups and saucers, and enough wax and oils to cook up about fifteen beautiful candles.
Understanding candle wax and essential oils
There were mistakes along the way. Getting melt temperatures right, selecting the best cotton wicks and juggling the essential oil combinations took a bit of experimentation.
But we got there. Christmas came and went. Everyone loved the candles – and the jam! In fact, someone commented that we should consider making some more candles.
So we started thinking. Again. The candle-making experience was enjoyable. We love working together. We’d been toying with ideas about a business for some time, so why not!
As for the candles, instead of made-up names that attempt to conjure up moods and mystical experiences, we chose “tarn”. Our candle and melt blends are named after real tarns that can be found around the edge of Lancashire and across the glorious Lake District.
So Tarn Candles + Melts was born. But that’s where the hard work started.
Lancashire candle makers
It wasn’t just about the candles. It was a way of life, an ethos, a desire to create better things, sustainable things, without creating too much (if any) waste.
So the soy wax was an obvious starting point. A sustainable crop, pure and natural, biodegradable, and a product that holds fragrances well and is also clean burning.
As containers, the tea cups were a cute idea. We still love presenting candles in cups that have been given a new purpose, and can then be used again and again. But sourcing enough cups of a similar size was always going to be an issue.
With so many candles presented in glass containers, we wanted to be a bit different. Tins were perfect. A metal, yes, but 100% recyclable. Moreover, tins are so handy around the home. You can reuse them in hundreds of different ways.
Selecting and sourcing the right wicks had started during the creative Christmas run-in, and for us an Eco wick crafted from pure cotton and paper filaments ticked all the boxes.
Candle gifts in recycled materials
People enjoy clean-burning soy wax candles at home, but they also love giving them as presents and gifts. Our packaging had to be sustainable. That meant using recycled materials that could also be easily recycled. In fact, we wanted to eliminate as much packing and wrapping as possible.
Using good-looking tins for containers made one decision easy. Stick [sic] with one label. Literally. No need for product labels wrapped around the tin and then on the lid. Keep it simple. Stop waste. Showcase the lovely tin. So we did.
An added bonus saw us hook up with Hesketh Press, professional printers from Lancashire. Not only did the product labels come on recycled paper materials, the printing presses used vegetable-based inks. Again, that fitted in perfectly with our business ethos.
And finally, although we post out orders across the UK, we do so in minimal packaging. There’s no fancy product box, just an information leaflet (on Eco craft paper, 100% recycled), some cute void filler (EcoNutz, 100% recycled, no plastic stuff here) and the main postal box (recycled card, naturally from FSG sources).
To add that extra special personal touch, we decided to hand-write the customer addresses on the boxes. No unnecessary labels, no electric for the printer, no throw-away ink cartridges. Just a little elbow grease 😊
We’re far from perfect, but we’re trying. We’re trying to craft a difference.
Here’s hoping you love using Tarn Candles + Melts, and that you enjoy supporting what we’re trying to achieve: produce beautiful candles and melts that are inspired by nature.