Meet the Maker – Lisa Barnett, The Irish Chandler

Hello and welcome to the next instalment of our ‘Meet the Maker’ series! 

Part of the reason I started Irish at Heart was to showcase the brilliant artisan products of Ireland and work with makers with a true passion for their craft. In our ‘Meet the Makers’ series, we get to know the people behind the products that go into our subscription boxes. Settle in, grab a cup of tea and find out what we got to know about Lisa Barnett from The Irish Chandler. 

Mary x

  1. Tell us a little bit about your business and the products you make? The Irish Chandler is an independent candle brand based in County Clare, Ireland. After searching for a cleaner way to fragrance my new home, I decided to create my own scented candles. At first I gifted the candles to friends and family, their feedback was amazing and I began to receive requests of where they could buy the candles for their own friends. I registered the business at the end of 2017 and decided to sell my products at a Christmas craft market in Limerick. I completely sold out! I am still at that very same market to this day, each and every Saturday from 8am.Not only do I sell almost 30 varieties of delightfully scented candles throughout the year but I have recently expanded the range by introducing wax melts and reed diffusers but it is the candles that everyone comes back for. 
  1. What inspired you to start Irish Chandler and where does the name come from? Three years ago I was spending long periods sitting at a desk working on designs from my computer, sometimes I would treat myself to a new candle fragrance to enjoy in the office, but I started to find that after burning some candles (usually made with paraffin and other ingredients) I would feel slightly queasy.  Then after moving into the new family home I was gifted a soy wax candle which sat unlit on the mantelpiece for quite some time because the scent didn’t really appeal to me. One night, our power was out so scrambling for matches I lit the fire for warmth and then the gifted candle for light, I noticed that it didn’t give myself or my family a headache, so the next day I decided to shop locally for soy candles, at least that way I could smell them and find a scent I did like but I failed to find anything. When I moved my search online, I then found lots of information about scented candle making and decided to buy a small kit to try and make container candles myself. Now as it turns out I have previously made candles.  In my teens I volunteered at a Victorian Open Air Museum. I would be assigned to make candles in the candle factory but the tapered candle stick kind, all made in the traditional way of dipping string into a large vat of wax. The sign across the doorway read ‘Candle Maker & Tallow Chandler’. Traditionally, a Chandler would be the person making candles using tallow, a form of animal fat, so when it came to picking a name for my new business Chandler was the obvious word. However,  I make candles with plant-based materials, so there are no animal derivatives. Chandler is translated to coinnealóir in the Irish language. 

  1. What are some of your candle care tips for our subscribers? Soy wax has a low melting point and as a result, soy candles burn cooler, slower and longer than paraffin candles. It is very important to allow your soy candles to burn all the way to the edge of the jar, this will ensure that your candle does not ‘tunnel down' leaving wax around the sides of the container. I always recommend burning The Irish Chandler candles between 1.5 to 3 hours at a time but for safety never more than 4 hours and then once the wax has hardened again, trim the wick down to about 5mm, I sometimes use nail clippers for a clean easy cut.

  1. Which candle scent is your favourite and where do you find inspiration for your scents? The Irish Chandler is located on the western side of Ireland in the match-making town of Lisdoonvarna and nestled in between the epic landscapes of the Burren and the Cliffs of Moher. If you are familiar with these places you will understand where the inspiration for my signature range of scented candles has evolved from. I name my candles after the places and people I  visit. I love the ever changing weather patterns that create wild energy rising from the ocean just a short drive from my workshop. It will come as no surprise that I had to name a candle after the ‘Atlantic’ this also happens to be my favourite fragrance of sea salt, driftwood, and citrus notes of grapefruit which I just adore - one of my stockists often refers to it as the ‘sexy man’ smell!
  1. What scent do you recommend for this time of year? I love all the spicy aromas of the holiday season, but my favourite candle scent for winter is ’Snow’. I thought the real thing was a phenomenon in Ireland until two years ago when we had 3 foot snow drifts against the house. In honour of this rare occasion, I wanted to create a pretty scent that reminded me of the delicate snowflakes I saw glistening in the morning sun. I combined ivy and balsalm with notes of jasmine and ylang ylang. When the new year arrives, I get very excited and start planning the fragrances for the seasons ahead, I can’t wait to release the Spring scents in February! 

  1. What makes your candles different from others?  The Irish Chandler has steadily progressed from a home grown Irish business into a recognisable brand that now produces hundreds of candles each week. Although new equipment has been introduced to cope with the large influx of sales and upscale production, everything is still handmade in the Lisdoonvarna workshop and each candle is lovingly hand poured by me into an apothecary style glass jar. As a graphic designer I had a clear idea in mind for simple packaging with each candle name and a little story added to each label which evokes memories of Ireland. I print all of the labels in-house, then each one is carefully attached to the jars by hand. Although every step of production is completed by me, I still believe that I can offer a quality artisan product without a huge price tag.
  1. Your candles are made from soy wax, how important is this to you? I love soy wax! It is derived from soybeans, a natural and renewable resource. The Irish Chandler soy wax candles burn cleaner and longer than other candle products, soy wax burns at a lower temperature so the scent tends to be stronger and longer lasting. If you were to accidentally knock over a candle, the wax is very easy to clean up with hot soapy water.

  1. We have just celebrated the beginning of a new decade, what’s next for your business? For the last few months I have been working on a new range inspired by my visits to Dublin. This collection will be released in time for Summer and I am working on designs for the labels right now.  I am also super excited for what lies ahead in 2020 and beyond, with collaborations lined up with a natural skincare company and a female-led whiskey business but at the moment I am testing new waxes that are grown closer to home in Europe.  If this wax turns out to be problem-free and I can use it to produce candles of equal or better quality to what I already have, then the carbon footprint will be drastically reduced and it is my responsibility after all to push for small changes to make my little business more sustainable. 
  1. Do you ship to the U.S. for any of our subscribers looking to buy your products individually? Yes, I ship worldwide and currently 40% of my customers are located in the US, the postal service in Ireland is great and in the past I have shipped an order to NYC amazingly it was delivered to the customer within 3 days.

  1. What has been your proudest moment for your business so far? One of my customers occasionally travels from the US to Ireland and she often visits my stall at the Milk Market in Limerick. When she asked me if I'd like to take my candles to an Irish event called ‘Fareplate’ in New York City I felt so proud of the products I had created. The event celebrates Irish food, drink and craft so you can imagine I was absolutely delighted to have experienced my time there although it was a short trip it was an unforgettable time and I am pleased to say I will be heading to the event again in NYC  in April 2020. Personally though, I think the most meaningful moment for me is always hearing my partner tell me how proud he is of me, and all the long hours I have dedicated to get the business off the ground and drive it to where it is today, I am truly blessed to have such a supportive and helpful family.
    1. Where is the one place you would recommend our subscribers to visit if they were taking a trip to Ireland?Of course I am going to say visit the Cliffs of Moher and the Burren - both unmissable experiences of Ireland.  However, there are so many other lovely places to visit. As a family we like to drive the coastal roads of The Loop Head Peninsula which also forms part of the Wild Atlantic Way, passing through small villages makes the journey so peaceful. Carrigaholt is a great place to eat fresh and delicious seafood, the scenery is breathtaking especially at the tip of the peninsula where a lighthouse sits majestically on the cliffs edge. You might not see too many people out and about but you will definitely get a taste of the real Ireland  - you might even catch a glimpse of dolphins and whales!

All of the photos in this post were taken by Mrs Redhead Photography