Finding the Light

The women behind All Is Calm and The Becca Project are a warming reminder that there is strength where there are struggles. And that throughout unexpected times, we as humans will always be in search of inner calm.

There’s undoubtedly something soothing about lighting a candle.

Whether it’s part of your nightly ritual or an act signifying unwinding, what exactly is it about a candle that benefits the mind, body and soul.

A candle’s soft illumination is said to calm the mind, perhaps even achieving a meditative state.

And a candle’s scent may spark a positive memory or feeling through association.

As Bec Frankham and Carlie Hogan from the Becca Project and Pamela McIntosh from All Is Calm will tell you, all three dealing with illness, candles were a way to find contentment and uplift their mood.

Friends Frankham and Hogan founded The Becca Project after their respective challenges with auto-immune disease.

Bec Frankham & Carlie Hogan

Hogan experienced sickness and days on end where she couldn’t get out of bed, being diagnosed with chronic fatigue.

Frankham suffers from an auto-immune disease of the joints.

Both were introduced to essential oils to help with energy and mood.

While they were at first self-confessed essential oil sceptics, they became intrigued as they used the oils and experienced benefits.

Frankham says, “Carlie and I were both fascinated by the potential effects of essential oils – but we felt there was a trick being missed in terms of how they were presented. We wanted to combine that element of wellbeing and self-care with something that looked stylish and smelt divine. And that’s what we believe we’ve achieved with our Becca Project range.”

All Is Calm founder McIntosh has long been a collector of candles, having always enjoyed the ritual of lighting a candle.

After experiencing sudden hearing loss accompanied by severe tinnitus, she sought calm to cope, including connecting with what a good candle can do for the mind, body and home.

Pamela Mclntosh

It’s also a way to give the gift of calm to others.

McIntosh’s experience with sudden hearing loss was confusing and scary.

Her balance was out, she didn’t know which direction sound was coming from, and there wasn’t much the doctors could do.

She didn’t drive or work for a month, and sleep was a distant memory.

It was later discovered a viral infection killed a nerve between her brain and left ear, meaning she’s now profoundly deaf in her left year and still experiencing tinnitus.

“All Is Calm is my way of creating something positive out of a negative situation”, says McIntosh.

Finding calm and staying calm is crucial for herself and her family, including mental and physical health coping mechanisms to reduce the anxiety she now experiences due to her hearing loss.

Comfortingly, the simple act of lighting a candle allows McIntosh to be present in a moment.

“A remarkable scent and timeless vessel are what lures me in when it comes to a candle. I light candles often, and I love the feeling of warmth and occasion – whether that be a cool winter evening or when we have friends over for summer drinks. A quality candle is also a lovely treat for your mind when working from home or to wind down after the kids go to bed”, says McIntosh.

McIntosh’s advice before lighting a candle is to first trim the candle’s wick to 5mm.

“This makes the candle burn well: preventing an overly-vigorous flame, reducing black ‘soot’ lining the vessel, and it helps the wax and fragrance burn cleanly while ensuring better scent distribution”.

And after the candle is alight, it’s time to let the scent gently fragrance the room and influence your mood.

A ritual in itself, the Becca Project range also includes body oils, diffusers and solid fragrance.

“Our products allow you to ‘layer’ up and enjoy that feeling or mood wherever you are”, says Frankham.

It’s also the mesmerising and comforting ‘crackle’ sound of the wooden wick that invokes emotion and inspires The Becca Project customers to reach out to Frankham and Hogan with compliments.

The Becca Project’s ‘Wonder’ scent is for rising and shining, mixing the healing qualities of rose otto, ylang-ylang and geranium with the mood-enhancing benefits of sweet orange and a refreshing mix of lime and basil to feel grateful and alive.

Giggle is Frankham’s favourite scent for its fresh citrus rise and the way it invigorates her mood.

The uplifting blend mixed with a mimosa scent creates a “happy hour” feel.

Hogan describes the Becca Project’s ‘Brave’ scent as one she’s never experienced in a candle before.

The woody scent inspires feelings of power and strength.

And if you want to relax and destress, Hogan and Frankham recommend floating away with ‘Dreamer’, which includes a soothing fusion of lavender, chamomile and sandalwood, as well as the addition of sweet orange and calming petitgrain to help soothe the nervous system.

During last year’s festive season, McIntosh’s Oakmoss & Pine Christmas Candle was a sold-out hit, recreating the scent of a real Christmas tree for many Yuletide enthusiasts.

Her Lychee & Black Tea candle is similar in scent profile to a juicy grape, making it sweet and irresistibly uplifting.

The Cherry Merlot candle is a unique blend, adding warmth and intrigue with the sweetness of cherry and currant balanced with the masculine touch of spicy clove and amber notes.

And candles don’t need to be alight for enjoyment.

Both the All Is Calm and Becca Project candles have an excellent ‘scent-through’ when lit or unlit.

Frankham explains, “you don’t even need to light our candles to enjoy each scent as they have a great ‘cold scent’ – which means that they fragrance a whole room when they aren’t even lit”.

The candle-making process itself also conjures calm. McIntosh has a candle studio set-up in her garage, which doubles as a place for respite after her children are in bed, and she can “create calm in a jar”.

She says a chandler (candlemakers) requires patience throughout the process, so she’ll often have a wine in hand or listen to a podcast to make the most of it.

The All Is Calm range was devised after months of testing various waxes, with McIntosh deciding on a natural cocosoy wax – a palm and paraffin free coconut and soy wax blend.

“Natural waxes like soy and coconut can be a little bit more temperamental to work with than a paraffin blend (which look perfect but can emit toxins into the air when you burn them), but it’s worth it for a safer, cleaner result.”

The All Is Calm candle range uses a cotton and paper wick, and the glass jars can be reused beyond the candle’s life.

This is the same for the Becca Project, using recyclable packaging and reusable jars.

Natural ingredients are also at the forefront of the Becca Project’s candles.

All components are organic and locally sourced where possible to lessen the brand’s carbon footprint.

Frankham explains that “Using only organic products means we are sure there are no ‘nasties’ used in the growing of the plants or flowers, ensuring nothing contradicts with the pure oils”.

As many of us are looking to create patches of calm in a busy world, as McIntosh reminds us, this respite is also vital.

“I consistently seek calm to ensure I am in a good mental space”, she says. “Lighting a beautiful candle is just one way to bring your mind to the present moment and to use the senses of sight and smell to ground yourself.”

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