The Wax Studio - Anna

The Wax Studio - Anna

The Wax Studio


Interview: Nikki Gillingham, Blue Whale Communications

Photography: Marianne Rothbauer, Rothbauer Studio


What made you decide to start making candles for family and friends?

I’ve always loved making beeswax candles, especially hand dipped ones. At some point a few years ago, I wondered if I could turn a hobby into a business.

You’re just 12 years old! Why did you want to start a business selling the candles at such a young age?

I’ve been around entrepreneurs and artists my whole life, and I’ve been going to local craft shows for a few years and buying local is a big part of our family. So it just kind of made sense to be a “maker” at shows and in shops when I was already making candles. I didn’t really think about the fact that I was young, as I was just being myself and doing what I love.


What is it like for you to balance school, making the candles, and running a business?

I try to fit in candle making and my business around school and my friends and other activities and sports. If time weren’t a limit, I have so many ideas I would love to turn into products and candles. Some days I wish I didn’t have to sleep at all!

Tell us a bit about why you use beeswax for your candles.

Beeswax is truly the most amazing wax for candles (and for hundreds of other uses, too). It naturally smells like honey and it burns clean and very slowly. I’ve learned that almost all soy is GMO and it is all hexane-treated, chemically bleached and must have chemical additives and often paraffin in order to hold both scent and color. Since paraffin is made from bleached petroleum residue, I want to make sure that what I make candles with is as close to nature as possible.


Where do you get your beeswax from? Is it important for you to support local?

I get all of my beeswax from Ontario beekeepers, and as local to the city as possible. I source beeswax every fall from a bunch of different Ottawa Valley beekeepers and it’s really important to me to get my “ingredients” from as close to home as possible.

Is it important to you that your products are environmentally friendly?

A huge part of what I do is producing a clean, all-natural, chemical-free alternative to GMO and chemically-treated soy, toxic paraffin and other candles. By choosing beeswax I support local beekeepers and, in turn, the bees. I use only aromatherapy-grade essential oils, non-toxic vegetable-based dyes, all- cotton wicks and recycled paper boxes for packaging.

Is the declining bee population affecting your business?

I have heard from so many beekeepers that beeswax is becoming more scarce and is therefore more expensive. I give part of my profit back to the Technology Transfer program of the Ontario Beekeeper’s Association (OBA). The program is focusing on great things like sustainable ways of treating bee diseases and breeding strong queens. Like the OBA I truly hope that governments make all toxic pesticides and insecticides illegal because they are really damaging our bee populations. And without bees, our food supply is going to disappear too.


Was it hard to learn how to filter the wax yourself?

It’s really important to me to make sure that the beeswax I use is highly filtered so the candles burn beautifully. It also means I can get more wax in different states from more local beekeepers, and finish it off on my own time. Once I learned how to do it well, filtering beeswax became a routine part of what I do, and I filter at least once a week now.

How long does it take you to make a candle from start to finish?

It all depends on the size and shape of the candle, and whether it needs any hand painting after. It could be as little as half an hour, or as much as a day (or night).


Where do you get the ideas for your designs from?

I like to reimagine what a beeswax candle could be. Sometimes it’s switching up the color, by doing black beeswax tealights, or pink tapers. Other times it’s introducing a new idea like a beeswax Sugar Skull that I hand paint with other colors of beeswax. I also like Modern Art a lot, so I made a light bulb candle and I even have a giant match I just need to design the right box for.

Do you have a favourite candle in your collection?

I just created a brand new candle from a mold that I made myself. It was my first time making a mold and it was both exciting and super challenging. I used an antique perfume bottle from the 1800s from E. D. Pinaud in Paris. His story is very inspiring as he came from a family of artists and worked so hard to become a master perfumer who even produced a Bouquet perfume for the World’s Fair held in Paris in 1900.


Are there any trade shows you’ll be attending this fall?

I’m doing a bunch of shows in the winter, starting with Watson’s Mill, then Freewheeling Craft’s show at Makerspace North, and then Peabody Farm’s Christmas fair.

You’re supplying candles for an upcoming wedding. Do you see The Wax Studio growing and taking on more big projects like that?

It was really exciting to know that candles I made were part of someone’s wedding and celebrations. I actually just got another big order for a wedding taking place in the summer, and it would be fun to do a few more.

What do you like most about making candles?

I really love coming up with new candle designs and experimenting with how to optimize their beauty and their burn time. Recently I took an big oval candle pillar mold, and redesigned it to have two smaller wicks instead of one big one. Now it is now one of my favorite candles and it has a perfect burn pool of wax and lasts for 30-40 hours!


If you could make a candle for any Canadian celebrity, who would it be and why?

I met Chris Hadfield at a book signing a few years ago, and actually have wanted to be an astronaut myself since I was really little. So maybe I could gift Chris Hadfield a few candles, and he could sneak one into space for me.

When you’re not making candles, what do you like to do in your free time?

I’ve been an Herbalist apprentice for about 5 years and really love botany and wild plants. I love camping and hiking, and skating in the winter. And music is a really big part of my life as I sing and play piano. - Ian - Ian

Sir John A Pub - Peter & Bob Abraham

Sir John A Pub - Peter & Bob Abraham