IVY & WOOD Q&A
21 July 2020
Ivy & Wood are known for their handcrafted soy candles in vintage-look mason jars showcasing the distinctive scents of Australian florals. Founder, Jess Blandford, longing for a creative hobby started making candles from the kitchen bench of her inner-city Brisbane apartment in 2015. Ivy & Wood has since grown into a full-time business for Jess and her partner Brad.
We caught up with Jess to hear about the process of candle making, and how being a creative in Brisbane influences Ivy & Wood.
When did you first decide to pursue Ivy & Wood? What inspired you?
I always knew that I wanted to start my own business, but it wasn’t until I moved back to Brisbane after a long stint in the UK that I put down roots and really began to think seriously about it. With a career in e-commerce, I longed to be more creative and so back in 2015 I tried my hand at making candles using mason jars, because I loved the vintage look. Once I mastered it, I realised I could actually turn this hobby into the business I had dreamed of all this time… and so Ivy & Wood was born.
Organic and natural ingredients are integral to Ivy & Wood. Why is this important to you?
We try to be eco conscious where possible and lead a low-tox life (although not perfect, we do what we can!).. so it was a given that we’d carry this ethos through to our business! We use natural soy wax, non-toxic fragrances and essential oils in our candles as well as glass mason jars that are perfect for repurposing in the home.
Ivy & Wood is handcrafted in small batches in your Brisbane studio. Tell us about the process you go through to bring each product to life?
Before we bring a product into our range, we undergo extensive testing to be sure it’s ready. Candle making is a bit of a science and there’s so many factors which influence the final product, especially when working with natural soy. Wax temperature, fragrance ratio and even the environment is particularly important - air temperature and humidity can wreak havoc on curing candles.
You have collaborated with local illustrators Moonshine Madness and Paper Hands to create some stunning packing for your candles. What do you think is the secret to working with other creatives on a successful collaboration?
Communication, openness and honesty are probably the most important factor! Each artist has their own unique style and process, which we want to embrace and allow them creative freedom, whilst working within the boundaries of the project. Because they are bringing our scents to life with illustration, I am particular about certain elements that need to be included in the design. However, we also want to give them a new platform to showcase their work so it’s important that both sides are happy with the final product. Design is very subjective and open to so many interpretations, so it’s integral that we are communicating at every step of the way and providing feedback and input.
How does living in Brisbane influence your creative practice?
After living overseas, my love for Australia was fiercely reignited when I returned to settle down, and I had a new appreciation of how lucky I am to live in such a beautiful place. Growing up, I took it all for granted but after spending time away I recognised how much beauty there is on our own doorstep. My obsession with Australian native flora and fauna is pretty obvious with our product range and our newest collaboration with Melanie Kilby.
Our beautiful weather in Brisbane also allows us to enjoy the outdoors and be inspired by nature daily. We also have a great creative scene in Brisbane, and I’ve met so many other wonderful creatives whilst doing local markets, and they inspire me with their talent and beautiful wares.
What does a day in the life of Jess look like? Tell us about your creative process.
The reality of a small business is that you don’t actually get to spend that much time on the creative stuff! My days are mostly spent packing orders and labelling products whilst my partner Brad pours all the candles and reed diffusers. There are so many hats we have to wear as small business owners, and we do all the things ourselves including bookkeeping, ordering supplies, website management, social media, product design and development, wholesale account management, customer service and markets.
Do you have any exciting projects coming up for Ivy & Wood?
We are about to release our Australiana collection, our newest collaboration with artist Melanie Kilby. I’m absolutely in love with the illustrations and proud to showcase them. It’s been six months in the making and I’m so excited that it’s almost out there. We’re also in the planning stage for our next collab with another fab Brisbane artist - so watch this space!