Now I will admit that today’s interview is slightly weird as it involves interviewing myself! But before you hit the delete button, let me explain. My business partner and I have just launched a unique candle range called Wixen Vintage Candles where we source vintage glassware and turn them into eco-friendly soy wax candles.
As this blog is all about the stories behind artists, designers and creative people – from those who’ve just started out to others who’ve been around the blocks a lot longer – we thought readers might be interested to know a bit more about us and our new venture.
Just like many of the people I’ve interviewed our backgrounds are varied and diverse. Meryl studied sciences before a career change to journalism. Her interest in Who’d Have Thought comes from her regular column on collectors in Australian Country magazine. Jane studied languages but ended up working in PR, publishing and as a freelance writer and editor. We’ve both lived in other countries and love that the world is a small place and it’s easy to connect with like-minded people through things like this blog and our WHT business.
If you’re still with me …
Give us five things that describe you:
Jane: aspiring novelist, introvert, travel-lover, fitness-lover, chocolate-devourer.
Meryl: writer, nature lover, treasure hunter, singer and traveller.
You both work as writers and now work together in WHT, so what made you decide to design candles?
We both love things vintage and retro, particularly glassware and also love candles. Even though there are a lot of candle brands around now, we felt there was a gap in the market for ones in which beautiful limited edition vintage glass was the feature. We love that once the candle has been used, it can be reused as glassware again. It’s like triple-upcycling. Our focus is on making candles that are truly unique, sustainable and in some cases, a bit quirky, like our Retro Dog Series. We are also all about having a bit of fun and not taking things too seriously. Our motto is: Why be boring?
Tell us about the name Wixen?
We love to play with words so we fiddled around with various combinations of wax and wicks. Wixen means “magical people” and that’s how we feel when we’re brewing our soy potions. Our in-house joke is that our flattened Kiwi (New Zealand) vowels confuse the word Waxen for Wixen anyway, so it wouldn’t have mattered how we’d spelt it!
Where do you source the glassware from?
We love scouring Ebay, second-hand stores and charity shops. Our focus is on glassware that is in excellent condition and would look great as a candle. We look out for interesting coloured glass, maybe with patterns, and in different sizes. It’s fascinating to imagine the stories behind some of the old glassware – the different places and eras they’ve come from, the people who’ve sipped from them and the dinner table tales.
Tell us about the importance of upcycling and sustainability in your work, work practices and home life?
We were both brought up in families where wastage was a mortal sin, particularly food. We joke that even today both our mothers’ first port of call for fresh bread is their respective freezers! Our mums sewed and knitted all our clothes, tended the veggie patches and saved all the loo rolls and cereal boxes for craft projects. Kiwis have a huge capacity for creativity and we love nothing better than to give something another life, especially when it’s still in good condition. As the saying goes, one person’s trash is another’s treasure. We try to be sustainable at work by recycling paper and packaging and even our herbal teabags! It’s about being mindful of everyday actions. It can be hard but every little bit counts.
What do you do or where do you go for inspiration?
Jane: Many good ideas come when I’m doing boring chores like filling the dishwasher or when I’m in the shower, when my mind wanders. I also love reading – novels, online blogs like The Design Files and magazines like Frankie; fossicking around second-hand and design stores; and seeing shows, from theatre circus to comedians.
Meryl: I’m an outdoor girl so kayaking on Sydney Harbour early in the morning (sometimes with dolphins) is magical but if I can’t connect directly with the ocean then walking to the beach and through nearby native bush totally energises me. The leaf patterns, light movement and bird riffs are so refreshing that by the time I get back home, my “to do” list has compiled itself and anything is possible.
My guilty pleasure is …
Jane: Travel, if I can, or if not, reading the travel section of the weekend paper in the bath with a glass of wine.
Meryl: Buying tickets to fringe theatre for my unwilling family and feeling smug when they thoroughly enjoy themselves.
It’s not very cool but I really like …
Jane: Reading real books and real newspapers.
Meryl: Acappella and trying to be funny when apparently I’m only amusing myself.