Fortune in a fragrance

Candlemaker Melanie Upham is extra busy selling her handcrafted, soy wax candles ahead of the festive season.
Melanie Upham, the founder of Pure Candle, a company that specialises in handcrafted soy wax candles. Sarah Dea / The National
Melanie Upham, the founder of Pure Candle, a company that specialises in handcrafted soy wax candles. Sarah Dea / The National

Melanie Upham is the founder of Pure Candles, a company that specialises in handcrafted soy wax candles. The 43-year-old Briton, who makes between 750 and 1,000 candles per month, launched the business four years ago and has more than 20 years’ experience across the UK and the Middle East in buying and merchandising, marketing and wholesale/distribution. The candles are sold in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.


I am an early riser, so I usually beat the alarm clock that is set for 5.45am. This early start gives me about 45 minutes worth of me time to catch up on the overnight emails from my suppliers, as well as check my appointments and to-do list for the day. I also get to enjoy my first coffee before our dog, Rambo, and two cats, Patsy and Eddie, start looking for their breakfast.


It’s time to wake my daughters – Charlotte, 15, and Georgie, 12 – which is a challenge with a teen and preteen. They drag themselves down the stairs, bleary eyed, to the sound of my blender preparing their favourite juice of the moment, which is currently mixed berries. My husband, Geoff, travels a lot on business as he’s the international managing director of Dean & Deluca, so if he’s around there’s an extra mouth to feed as well.


It’s time for the school run and a sharp exit from our Jumeirah Park home to tackle the morning traffic on Sheikh Zayed Road – always a great way to sharpen the senses for the day ahead. From October until the end of the year the festive period goes manic and I am surrounded by festive scents.


I’m back home for a quick breather and to hydrate ahead of my routine workout. I do a combination of TRX and aerobics with Elaine Luck of Pure Fitness (the godmother to our youngest daughter), which sets me up for the day ahead.


I review my production requirements and deadlines for my corporate and personal clients. I also have to manage the supply chain and delivery side of the business, check inventory levels and reorder where needs be. Pure Candles are sold online through Little Majlis and at the Human Touch Kiosk in Mercato Mall, to name a few of our outlets, but I also have a lot of private-label clients. This is the time of day we discuss logos, fonts and designs for their requirements. I also plan marketing campaigns, events I’m attending and when I connect with our clients through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. I find social media is a fabulous way of getting your brand out there, and I make time to do this as often as I can, especially when launching a new fragrance.


I test new fragrances or make up orders. I simply love fragrances – researching them, trying them out. Fragrance is a very personal thing; what I like isn’t necessarily what my clients may like and vice versa. Testing is often challenging, as I can be seduced by the description of a fragrance only to find out during the testing stage that it doesn’t smell anything like what I thought I had ordered. I add a couple of new fragrances every year to keep the range commercial, but I have my favourites that have been available since 2010.


I’m back on the road for the school pickup at 3pm, normally through a supermarket.


After a run-down on the day from my daughters I get back to the business of candle-making while they take care of their homework. When I started the business four years ago it took a good six months to get the product right. The most important part of candlemaking is actually the wick. Because I use only soy, not all fragrances and wicks work when blended together. As a self-taught candle maker there were and still are a few tears when something doesn’t work. A few hours later, my work in the kitchen turns from candles into more edible creations as I start preparing dinner.


I talk to my suppliers on the phone and check the status of the latest due delivery of soy wax or fragrance oils. It’s also back to social media and emails, as the order requests and general inquiries are constant. I always ensure my clients get timely responses.


It’s dinner with my husband, followed by a catch-up on what’s been going on in the world outside my business through Sky News.


Bedtime with a cup of Earl Grey tea. As my head hits the pillow my mind is full of thoughts of fragrance and wax.

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Published: December 20, 2014 04:00 AM


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