I’ve been so excited about introducing you to Mike and Mark, The Bearded Candle Makers as part of my Creator Quarter series. These two Belfast boys became candlemakers out of the joy of doing something they loved and have been on some journey since! Through the magic of Instagram, we met and Dan and I decided to pay their stall at St George’s a little visit and a wonderful friendship has blossomed since! Here are a few snaps and a wee chat with Mike himself. Enjoy! (Don’t miss the giveaway at the bottom of this post!
Guys, thanks so much for sharing your story with us! Tell us a little bit about yourselves.
We are Mike and Mark aka The Bearded Candle Makers! Our job titles are: Mike is the Scent Explorer and Mark is the Scent Builder! Our job titles vary depending on the week, one of the many perks of having your own creative business! We are both from Belfast (Mark originally came from the Mourne Mountain area near Newry).
The Bearded Candle Makers are all about Scent, so we use ideas and stories for our scents. They could be a favorite book, childhood memory or parts of Ireland and indeed the world we have fallen in love with. This makes making the scents so interesting and the end result is always something awesome. From our first craft fairs we knew we loved it and it wasn’t until we done The Fine and Dandy Market and the ND Craft Collective fairs did we realise we could make this into a full time business.
The response was overwhelming and – to be honest – it still is. We are now in St George’s market every Sunday and we still get the same high as the first time. It’s all down to the seriously awesome customers we have, they really want us to do well and are so behind us. It’s very humbling.
You often say ‘Don’t Quit Your Daydream’. Has candle-making always been your dream?
We love that! It’s an in-built attitude we both have. We always had a dream to work together and to love what we were doing. It just took us a while to find out exactly what that was. The Bearded Candle Makers came about from a shared desire to work on something together that combine things we both love, like scent, craft, design and sustainability. Candles were the obvious choice, but with a focus always on the scent being the most important element. We spent 6 months learning the skills from scratch and developing our own scent profiling technique, which as far as we know no other candle maker uses! We are always learning new things with scent, it’s a never ending journey that always surprises you!
Tell us about the process of making a candle.
We begin by choosing the name. Sometimes this takes a long time as the name is so important. Once we have the name we then begin our own scent profiling technique which can take up to 3 months before we are happy to release it as a scent! Part of our scent profiling techniques include the melting and pouring process which has so many variables like, room temperature, pouring temperature and many more, but we have it down to a fine art now and we really believe it makes a huge difference to the longevity of the scent and the actual burning of the candle.
What are your favourite Bearded Candle Makers scents?
Mark’s definite favourite is Professor Sprout’s Green House, it’s a tomato leaf base with hints of bluebells and lemon verbena. I (Mike) always change my mind, at the moment though it’s Stardust. It’s got oakmoss, frankincense and ambergris. While I have always loved it, last year when I proposed to Mark I fill an abandoned, roofless watch house by the sea with these candles (on a starry night). So now when I smell it I am brought right back to that night.
How do you work – do you both do everything together, or do you split tasks?
We share most tasks as one week to the next can vary so much! A lot of folk ask if we ever get bored with the stamping as we hand-stamp all our packaging and the answer (weirdly) is no. It’s so relaxing and it keeps a child-like playfulness to what we do. Even the pouring! I (Mike) love pouring days! I will be found happy as anything in the workshop pouring gorgeous wax with all the lovely scents enveloping me! The guys across the street know it’s a pouring day as they can smell the scents from their house!
You are both still working full-time in other jobs. How do you balance that?
It’s very simple…make sure you love it! One thing we have learned though that took some time, is to remember to take time out and take a step back. It’s easy to do everything at once but once in a while and step back will give you so much perspective.
How do you keep yourselves inspired and creatively motivated?
We are so lucky with this, scent is a never ending learning concept! When we get a new scent finished it’s the best feeling ever! Also we have met some amazing and lifelong friends through the markets and fairs. We get to spend time with amazingly awesome and creative people! It doesn’t get much better! Again, I have to say our customers are awesome, they have such passion about local craft and really support us so much! They rock!
You are great champions of other local makers’ work and I love that. Any current favourites on the NI creative scene?
There are so so many!! If I had to choose only 3…..
Quirkydoo – Sarah makes the most AWESOME cards and prints, she hand cuts all her designs (mostly animals) and hand writes super quotes. She has her own in-built font! It’s unreal anyone can write so perfectly. It also helps that Sarah herself is super awesome!
NearyNogs Artisan Chocolate – it probably says a lot that I have two empty bags beside me now! These guys are the best!! They make the most awesome chocolate and fudge ever. The salted caramel is beyond words! They make everything from their cottage kitchen near the Mournes. They are family of awesomeness!
Saint Maren – Denise makes the best soup bars, liquid soaps and beauty bath oils EVER. She used the most luxurious ingredients and makes everything in small batches using only traditional techniques. Everything is about keeping life elegant and beautiful, just like her!
Where can people find you and buy your candles?
We are in St George’s every Sunday from 10 until 4. Our two monthly craft fairs are The Fine & Dandy Market (last Sunday of each month in the Cresent Arts Center) and the ND Craft Collective fair (Second Saturday of each month in Holywood’s Old School). We also sell our candles in the Studio Souk on Castle Lane Belfast and the Irish Design Shop in Dublin. We will be starting scent building classes in the next few months too! They will be based in the Studio Souk. Details are being finalised at the moment. We are also working on a range of new Botanical Candles….the next few months are going to be epic!
Finally, The Bearded Candlemakers is such a great name. Does it mean though that you will both always have to maintain your beards?!
Yes! Beards for life! I (Mike) shaved my beard off once about 7 years ago and looked like I was 11 years old….not a good look!!
Big thanks to Mike and Mark for letting us hang out with them – we had a ball! They’ve oh-so-very kindly agreed to giveaway TWO of their luscious candles. To enter the giveaway, head on over to Instagram! You can see more photos from our fun trip to the market here: http://gemmaruthbrown.vsco.co/journal/the-bearded-candlemakers. By the way, Dan took these: how incredible are they!? I married a genius.