Along the ring road around Utrecht lies an old building that’s fizzing with creativity. Each room houses a young entrepreneur, passionately working on various projects. One of these enthusiasts is Giselle, an extremely pleasant young lady with a great love for candles. She greats us with her arms wide open in her shared studio. Tea? Something else? Always with a smile on her face.
Giselle is the proud owner of Brandt Candles. She designs lovely collection natural scented candles. No paraffin or bee wax, but essential oils and soy wax.The six different scents have their own relaxing effect on our bodies and minds. Light the candle during a calm night at home, enjoy the smell and doze off wonderfully for the rest of the night.
Pictures by Céline Gladiné
Facebook: Brandt Candles
What does your morning look like?
I try to start the day as relaxed as possible. I take my time to have breakfast and I play some music before I bike to my studio. The 25-minute bike ride is amazing. It feels like a transition to my life in the studio, or a way to finish my day, back to normal life.
Have you always been doing creative things?
I used to draw a lot and took some acting courses. But that’s a different kind of creativity than making candles, of course.
How did you start this adventure?
Before Brandt, I worked in the security world, policy and risk analysis. At first, it was fascinating. But as time passed I felt I wanted to try something different. I applied for jobs with several companies, but without succes. After a while I started going to interviews for jobs I didn’t even want.
Around that same time a friend from Tennessee came to visit. She brought a candle, made by a girl from New York who’d just started her own company in scented candles. I liked the idea, and not long after, I got on a plane to New York. I worked in her studio for a month. Not very long, but it was quite intense.
Back home I worked in the Van Gogh Museum for a while, and in October of 2016 I started my own company, Brandt. It’s all so relaxed, it keeps making me happy.
Why is the hand-made aspect so important to you?
The entire process is very meditative. When I work, I’m so focused that almost everything else disappears from my mind. The different movements from cutting the wick to the gluing and labelling give me an extremely pleasant feeling.
Besides that, I love the natural aspect of it all. My wax, for example, comes from ecological cultivation. I also make my own wicks, without harmful paraffins. I already knew all the steps, from pot to candle, from working in New York, which made everything a lot easier for me. Still, I had to adapt the process to products I could find in the Netherlands and Europe.
Do you sometimes lose yourself in the process?
It happens. I work purely based on my own energy. Sometimes I sleep a little longer, while other times I start at 7.30 in the morning. It’s all good. I follow my own flow, a way of working I highly value.
Are all the products you use picked out with sustainability in mind?
As much as possible. The labels, for instance, are made from recycled sugar paper, which I buy from a small company in Utrecht. Wherever possible, I try to use ethically produced or reusable products. I re-use the boxes and the packaging I get from suppliers, and my roommate collects the plastic bubble wrap his employer would otherwise throw away. When I do buy something myself, I try to make sure it’s either recycled or biologically degradable.
Do you extend this environmental awareness to your personal life?
Yes, I do. I own, for example, a Fairphone. You really have to have a heart for it though, it can have its tantrums. Besides that, I almost never buy clothes. Every piece of clothing I own, I’ve gotten from friends. I help them clean out their wardrobes, and they let me go through everything they want to throw out. I also try to eat very little meat, and my boyfriend and I have been very active in a community for tiny houses in Utrecht. It’s one of the reasons I don’t own a lot of stuff.
What inspires you?
I love to travel, even though it’s not really an inspiration for the process of making candles. But it does take me out of my bubble to see how I truly feel about things, and what my future plans are. I’ve noticed I have to keep surprising myself. I can go on for hours and hours, but sometimes I have to do something completely different.