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In Conversation: Earl of East

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IN OUR WORDS

When it comes to interviewing brands we tend to start at the beginning. Charting their journey from the source to get to know where they came from so we can better understand where they are now. This couldn’t be more relevant than with one of our longest standing brands, Earl of East. Back in 2015 when our own store was only one year young, we started stocking the then little known, small batch candle brand based on their design integrity and their perfectly curated range of fragrances.

Three years later we are still proud stockists (and consumers!) of Earl’s hand poured, soy wax candles and our respective businesses have grown alongside each other. Earl of East have now well and truly blossomed with an extended range of lifestyle products, a series of workshops and importantly their own retail space, Bonds, to house this all in. The close relationship with their customers that has ensued is evident in their ever growing fan base, and their approach of collaboration and community has led to them being supported and stocked worldwide.

Keeping things organic with eco wax, self-trimming cotton wicks and custom-made blends of essential oils, the brand focusses on creating premium products at an accessible price, designed to sit well with any interior, from opulent to minimal. With travel experiences at the core of their designs and their carefully curated fragrances their candles do exactly what you’d expect and transport you to other places and warmer times. Ever thought it smelt good in our store? It was probably an Earl of East candle. After three years working together we thought it was about time to catch up with founders Paul Firmin and Niko Dafkos to talk taking a small batch approach to making their now infamous candles, and hear more tales of their travels told through the brand’s bespoke fragrances.

IN THEIR WORDS

'Earl of East was born out of the desire to have a joint creative outlet. We didn’t have a set plan or defined roadmap for our brand, and looking back I don’t even think we thought of it becoming a brand in the early days. We began as curators, bringing together items we loved in a regular market stall. Our customers responded well to our aesthetic and loved the products we sold but we were surrounded by makers and artisans and felt compelled to develop our own line which we did back in 2015. By this point we had already become established as 'the candle guys' so launching a home fragrance line was a natural progression. 

Our scents are all inspired by places we have been or memories from our childhood. We don’t go to a place and forage but we do soak up the sounds, colours and feeling of a place and embody that in our scents. Some scents are literal, the notes can be found in those places, think flora or fauna and others are more about recreating a mood or room. We manufacture our line ourselves in our East London Studio, we felt it was important to manage this process. We use natural vegetable waxes and premium grade botanical fragrance and essential oils. We wanted to create a high quality product in every sense. People can come to our building and watch the production from our store, or join one of our workshops where we share our craft with others on their own creative journey.

We design our products for everyone. We didn’t want to become a product for a gender or social class. We wanted to create a product that was accessible and we hope we have achieved that. Moving forwards we are expanding our line, adding a new scent in Spring to the core line and launching a new collection inspired by Japanese Bathing culture. This is really exciting for us, it’s a slightly different look and feel and we will have Bath Salts and Essential Oil blends.'

GET TO KNOW EARL OF EAST

Tell us about your neighbourhood.

We see Hackney as our neighbourhood, its where we met, started our business, moved in together and now have our studio and store. Despite being a central London Borough it still has a village feel, it’s become a real home for creativity.

If you had to pick one other city to live in, where would it be? 

Los Angeles in an instant. It’s a life goal to live there at some point.

What’s your fashion guilty secret?

That we’re not that fashionable!

What record always makes you get up and dance?

Diana Ross, Upside Down, maybe not that cool of us to say but very true. 

If you could lend one book you have read to us, what would it be? 

Wabi Sabi, for Artists, Designers, Poets and Philosophers

What or who do you believe in? 

We believe that if you work hard you will see the rewards, that if you approach things with integrity that always shines through. We also believe in community over competition, we love how supportive the creativity community is in LA. Its improved here hugely in the past few years but we can still learn a lot from their desire to share knowledge and support one another. 

What is the best advice you have ever received?

Just say yes. (Obviously not to everything, but openness and doing things out of your comfort zone is so important).

Words by Rebecca Field. Shop the collection from Earl of East online and in store.