Soilse, based in County Louth, was founded by Karen Lavelle in 2013. Karen takes inspiration from her surrounding woodlands and coastline. Made with 100% soy wax, each candle is hand poured and infused with a unique blend of essential oil based fragrances that are all naturally produced and environmentally friendly.
Could you describe your studio to us? What is your favourite thing about the space?
Our studio is a wonderful modern space in a communal creative environment in Co Louth, it is filled with light and energy.
How do you get into the mindset of making?
I really love and look forward to the making process, I enjoy the slow methodical mindfulness of losing myself in the studio which I am making. I enjoy listening to music while I pour but often am just as happy with peace and quiet as I have a very noisy house at home.
What is your favourite tool and why
I adore mixing fragrances and experimenting with new blends so I spend a lot of time with my little bottles of oils and pouring jugs. I also love sourcing out new materials and suppliers and designing new products.
Can you describe your making process to us?
We melt organic soy wax in a large melter and pour into metal jugs which will make 12 candles at a time. This is then mixed carefully with our custom fragrance blends and poured in 2 stages over 2 days into vessels, wicks are inserted and fixed and eventually, we leave the finished candles to cure for 3 days before they are labeled and cleaned.
What is your inspiration?
My inspiration comes from nature and what surrounds me in the Irish countryside, it may be a windblown shoreline or a tiny flower found along a country road. I also enjoy collaboration with other makers and am always inspired by my creative friends and their work.
What led you to choose this craft as a profession? What do you love most about it?
I actually studied design in NCAD and spent 12 years working as a fashion designer in New York. I was women's wear design director at Gap and moved home to Ireland when the children were born to escape the city and the mass production cycle of fashion. I embraced the slower pace of country living and started making candles at home, firstly for friends and then progressed to farmers markets and eventually launched Soilse to retailers in 2013.
I am most proud of the Apothecary collection because of its sustainability as it minimizes waste and is 100% reusable and also recyclable. The packaging is simple and clean with a hint of glimmer and the fragrances are fresh botanical little capsules of the Irish countryside.
How do your surroundings affect your work?
My surroundings inspire my work on a daily basis, I start my day with a walk or run in the forest at Ardgillan or on the beach by my house and rarely come home empty-handed or without an idea in my head.
What is your favourite piece?
Currently, I am loving the Apothecary 3 wick candle which we made for Irish Design shop in November 2018 and have rolled out in 3 fragrances this Spring. The soft flicker of the flame through the amber glass creates a wonderful soft atmosphere in any room. I am currently burning this in the uplifting fragrance 'RAIN'.
A selection of the beautiful Apothecary candles by Soilse are available to purchase here.