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Meet the Husband and Wife Team Behind this South Shields Candle Company

candle and diffuser
March 2024
Reading time 2 Minutes

Laura and Chris Marshall are the husband-and-wife team behind South Shields-based Lumière Candles

Juggling running their business with two full-time jobs, Chris tells us more about their motivation.

Tell us what you do.
In a nutshell, we make homes and businesses smell amazing. We do this by crafting scented candles, wax melts, and reed diffusers in small batches so we can ensure our products remain high quality.

What’s your background? 
We are both born and bred Sanddancers (for those that don’t know, that’s what we’re called in South Shields). We also went to the same comprehensive school, albeit a year apart, and somehow never met until we were in our 20s. Laura has worked in admin for a wardrobe manufacturing company since 2013 but also obtained a law degree from University of Sunderland. My background is a bit more varied. I worked in local bars whilst studying for my graphic design degree, which also included a foundation degree in packaging design and branding – something that gets put to good use nowadays. I then left the hospitality industry to work as the sole designer for a start-up company offering print and web design up until 2019. I then changed careers completely and started working for the North East Ambulance Service before making my most recent move into a patient-facing role working in the physiotherapy team of the orthopaedic wards at Sunderland Royal Hospital.

We didn’t have any formal training in candle making prior to launching our business, however, we did spend an uncountable number of hours researching best practices and techniques, as well as doing a lot of testing prior to launching. There was a lot of trial and error in the early stages, as there is with all businesses, but we have found recipes that we’re proud of and continue to develop. My prior experience being self-employed and co-running a business has been invaluable too.

Why did you set up Lumière? 
The idea came about when we had excess cut lavender from our garden and we were thinking of gift ideas for friends and family to make with it. The idea of creating lavender scented candles arose and we were both keen to try it – one thing led to another and now here we are. Our official launch was in November 2018. We both worked full time, as we still do, and wanted to do something where we could spend more time together.

Where do you source your materials?
We source our materials from a wide range of companies, but we try to keep them as local as possible and most are from small businesses like ourselves. A lot of our fragrances come from Scotland, as do the vessels that we pour the candles into, but we also get things like our glassine bags for the wax melts from a sole trader based in Cheshire.

What’s your typical day?
Because we both work full time as well as running our business, there are lots of long days. A full day in the workshop, though, generally starts the day before as we’ll set timers on our wax melters so that the wax is already melted for when we get in (as it can take a couple of hours). Then it’s the least favourite part, prepping everything ready to pour – whether that’s cleaning down moulds from previous pours if we’ve been a bit lazy the day before, or wicking up all the glasses/tins that we’ll be pouring into. Once that’s done, we’ll combine the fragrance oil with the wax at certain temperatures and then pour the candles. We typically leave them to set for 24 hours before removing the wick holders that keep the wicks centred. So, once we’ve poured, we’ll start sorting the candles from the previous day, cleaning up any spills, labelling and boxing them up and getting them ready for sale. Before we leave, we’ll package up any orders and drop them off to be delivered.

Juggling between our jobs and the business is a challenge, simply because we want to commit more hours to what we do than there often are in the day. The plan has always been to get to a point where our business could become full time and that would still be the plan. Aside from that, the markets are probably the hardest part, especially in winter when it’s snowing. We love doing them, and love meeting people, but they are very long days and there’s a lot of heavy lifting. All stallholders complain, but we all secretly love it too.

What’s the best part? 
The best part is still seeing the joy on people’s faces when they smell our products for the first time. It honestly never gets old. We have some amazing scents in the pipeline that we’re still testing but our Once Upon a Time… melts are something that we’ve wanted to launch for a while now and we’re so excited that they are now available – they smell amazing!

What are you currently working on?
Our products are grouped into collections, currently we have our Fairytale, Classic Scents, and Festive (which is seasonal), but we are looking at adding an Escape to Paradise collection to that. Think of being in a hammock surrounded by palm trees whilst sipping a piña colada or meandering through a beautiful Oriental garden filled with cherry blossoms at dusk, that’s the feel we’re going for.

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