ost of the time I find candles to be quite serious,” says wax-guru Jamie Briggs. “I wanted mine to have a little bit of personality, be a bit more fun – and with a clean aesthetic that people would love.”
This playfulness is evident in his new brand’s elegant packaging – and the name. “There’s a slight cheekiness with how you can say it,” he says, with a grin. “Oh James…or Oooooh James.”
Quite. Briggs grew up “not far from San Francisco” and, after working as a buyer for Gap, quit five years ago to open a bar in Dalston with his mate. Selling on the lease in 2017, he returned to his hitherto unexplored first love: candles.
“I was tired of paying £30-£40 for ones that didn’t smell all that amazing, and thought I could create them for a better price and of a nicer quality,” he says.
Teaching himself the ropes via online tutorials and then experimenting in his kitchen in SE14, he’s managed to crack the smelly candle’s biggest potential issue: achieving the correct balance of scent. There’s nothing worse than a stinky, suffocating aroma – and yet, if it’s too bland, customers won’t return either.
“You test candle after candle, working out which oil goes with which, changing, say, the percentage of tobacco and honey,” he says.
Of the seven-strong (and yes, cheekily-named) range, we especially like In The Mood, a “weird scent combination to begin with,” he says, in which the cardamom gives a slight spice to the fig; meanwhile In The Boudoir sees patchouli and sandalwood give a muskiness to the vanilla. “The idea is to take away some of the sweetness.”
So what’s next for 2019? Oh, only “fragrances, soaps and lotions.” He’s a busy boy, that James.