Q&A WITH TRISTAN MCLELLAND – CO-FOUNDER AND FORMER CHEMIST
What inspired you to start your business? How did you go about it?
The desire to find a unique gift for friends drove us to create the first clear series candle, which had hints of Sara’s passion for creativity as well as my profession in chemistry. It was our quirky nod to this that our friends appreciated. We did not intentionally create Alchemy Produx as a business venture. Yet our accidental creation of a unique product range has rapidly grown into an international homewares brand.
Was there a turning point when you knew you were onto a good thing?
The first trade fair we exhibited at in 2012 saw our already 50 organically acquired stockists double to a total of 100. This initial commercial exposure for our brand reinforced that Alchemy Produx was heading in the right direction.
What do you find to be the most rewarding part of your business?
Experiencing first-hand people’s reaction to seeing the range for the first time and sharing the brand story with them. It still happens after seven years of our brand’s presence in the market.
What sort of person buys your products?
Minimalist, unisex, design-orientated, individualistic humans. Also, a lot of men who say they are getting some candles for their girlfriend but are obviously buying them for themselves. The beauty of our products is that they can be given as gifts or bought as treat for one's self.
What makes your product different? Why do you think it has succeeded?
Sara was a fashion designer and I was a chemist for the first few years of Alchemy’s life, and staying true to our backgrounds has given the range a backbone and a story that adds value to the brand. Our glassware is still genuine laboratory glassware, made of a compound called Borosilicate, which is a high heat-resistant, durable product that can be reused again and again, long after the fragrance has been consumed. We really try to push this repurposing aspect of our range and love seeing what people create from our vessels.
Have you identified any design and/or business trends you have had to address in the last year?
A couple of years back we exhibited at a trade fair in New York and it was the first real exposure of our fragrances to the American market. Our expectation was that the audience there would have a palate for sweet and strong scents, but to our surprise, the majority of buyers went straight for our botanical and earth-driven aromas. We prefer the sophistication found in this type of fragrance, and personally feel it is a nostalgia-stimulating, emotion-provoking experience blending them in our lab. Smell can transport you to anywhere in a split second, whether it be the smouldering embers of a campfire during your first time camping, or the sea air that time you had the beach all to your self. With all this in mind and using the New York show as a catalyst, we recognise that this desire to remember is not so much a trend, but an undeniable itch that needs to be scratched once in a while.
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