Discover the couple behind the Imperial Candles brand.
In 2014, Claudia and Alex started the company in their second year of University while studying Computer Science. They are high-school sweethearts, and they have known each other for almost 15 years now.
Fun facts about them: They have a cat Sapphire and an African grey parrot Mickey.
– What motivated you to start the business?
Claudia: I have always been passionate about decor, fragrance, and candles, but I never thought I would be able to build a brand around it. Since I was young, I dreamt about having my own business someday, but to be honest, I didn’t expect that to happen when I was just 22. We started this almost like a game; we didn’t know what we were doing. We thought this would be a hobby that we would do alongside our studies, but we were wrong.
I saw that the candle market had become stagnant, and I felt that the “fun” aspect was long gone, so I believed I could transform burning candles into a unique experience. I wanted to create something different, something that brings people excitement. That’s what it’s all about, the anticipation and making scent all about unforgettable memories.
-What led to the idea behind the concept, and how long did it take to make it a reality?
Alex: When I would offer Claudia a gift, she loved the teasing aspect so much ( sometimes more than the gift itself ). So we thought having this experience with candles would be amazing. The idea of a hidden surprise teasing you until you discover it started to run in our heads very fast and what could be more fun than a jewel?
So, we immediately acted on it, I almost couldn’t put my finger on it, but we ordered some testing materials the same day. We were a bit crazy, but that didn’t stop us.
Making candles is not as easy as it looks and not as easy as we initially thought. We did an incredible amount of research before we got our first product. We started to test different combinations, hundreds of wicks, and so many different wax types.
It took six months to launch Imperial Candles officially, and we were astonished by the response once we did. We soon started living between candles and packaging, spending our days and nights hand-pouring candles in our Kitchen and packaging in our bedroom.
Everything was quite labour-intensive. We used to cut and made even the wicks, wrapped jewellery, hand-poured candles, manually labelled candles, packaged them, printed the delivery label and even went to the courier depot to deliver them. So, when we started doing this for hundreds, we almost didn’t have any space left in the apartment, car (or all the hallways), and sleep was something we started just dreaming about.
–Where were you producing the candles?
Claudia: In the beginning, we were making everything in our Kitchen. As we were students, renting a warehouse had its challenges, so we rented a big house and started making candles from there. After two months, living in an apartment had become nearly impossible, so we had to move.
We were unpacking pallets of jars and wax through the windows. The neighbour surely thought we were crazy. However, four more months of sleepless nights passed, and the house became too small, so we made the jump to a 3,000 sqft warehouse.
We started hiring people to help, but even so, coping with the demand, trying to put a structure in place, training people, and meetings, there weren’t enough hours in the day to make everything happen. So, we ended up spending most nights pouring candles.
It has been a challenging process of adjustment. We made mistakes, learned a lot, and had some difficult moments, but we also had a lot of fun times.
–What is the vision for the company?
Claudia: We are so happy to see how much the Imperial Candles community has grown. And we are so grateful to all our customers, Ambassadors that are part of our journey and made this possible.
We hope to continue to surprise our customers with unique ideas and aim to become the go-to company for the ultimate gift experience in the UK (if not the world ).