Essentially Brandt started as a company back in October 2016 in a small room of 12 m2 in Utrecht. At the very beginning Giselle Habraken didn’t think that her path would lead to creating the Earth-friendly soy candle business:
‘Once I went to New York to help out the maker of the candles, a friend of a friend. However only 1,5 years after that I realized how much I missed the candle-making. I come from a different background, Safety and Security Management, and after quitting my job I decided to start Brandt.’
Certainly, this internship was the base that lit interest and today transformed into a fast-growing company. Before getting fully into candle making, Giselle consulted her candle master who did support her business ideas.
The memories from the first time of working with candles brought her the fascination for honeysuckle scent. Subsequently being a person who is inspired by smells and techniques, later on, Giselle introduced Kamperfoelie into her own collection.
Fearless and charming Giselle has a lot of people supporting her beginnings and views:
”I’m not the kind of person that plans out everything before starting something. That is to say, I just start walking and come across problems that I have to solve (which I love) along the way. So it helped me a lot, to have no fear or doubts and just see every little thing as an important part of the process.
Despite the fact that not many people around me run their own businesses, my friends and family turned out to have amazing skills that came very handy. For example, my boyfriend builds a website. While another friend is a business consultant and another one is incredibly fast and skilled as a candlemaker and so on. Also, I have two marvelous interns that are just the best with designing and branding. I have many people coming over to help me a day or two in the studio and that is just fantastic!’ — Giselle Habraken.
Throughout operating Brandt, the main struggle for Giselle was with the planning of production. Only after a year of work Giselle’s candles couldn’t fit in her room anymore — the place where everything started. During that moment she had to find another studio. Similarly soon she grew out of that one too and currently candle business is living in a studio in Utrecht, yet not for long.
Giselle is constantly thinking of growing her business, in other words, her stock and sales: ‘I have much more stock every season. It is very important to stay sharp on how much I need or the ones to come. The last quarter is absolutely nuts so I must be prepared.’
Moreover, Brandt candles are produced sustainable: soy wax, cotton wick, and natural oils. In addition, she uses eco ink for labels, reuses all boxes and filling materials received from suppliers. Not least to mention that her website is running on green energy.
Nowadays it is hard to stay 100% sustainable in any area of work. Nevertheless Giselle finds ways of making Brandt as close to 100% — for instance, asks suppliers not to use plastic with packaging for shipping.
To clarify Brandt candles are born out of love to candle making itself and plan to stay the same way. So don’t get fooled by its meticulous business approach. With this in mind Giselle’s happiness is dependant on the production process itself:
‘I love this part! I have a 50-liter wax-melter and firstly I pour about 1,5 liters in a jar where I mix it with the oils. Further, I pour it into the jars. To make sure the wicks are centered I use clothespins. Then while it is drying I can prepare the wicks for upcoming batches and in the end, I pack orders or do some computer work. I used to play guitar for the candle when I made them at home but that is a luxury I can’t afford. After they dried, I clean them, label them and they are ready for shipping!’
The botanical-inspired, Brandt’s scents were developed to be recognizable, to trigger memories. Scents of candles vary by its complexity. For example, the Woodcollection (Houtcollectie) is more difficult than Apothecary ones. At Brandt, the ingredients must be complementary and have a good top-heart-base* structure.
*The middle notes, or the heart notes, appear once the top notes evaporate. Not only the middle notes are considered the heart of the fragrance but also they last longer than the top notes and have a strong influence on the base notes to come.
Giselle loves to travel and it is needless to say that those memories brought a lot to Brandt’s collection of scents. For example, from France, she brought Coconut & Aloe Vera. Capturing mood and feeling of her summer surfing trips — she tried to recreate the surf wax (which you put on a surfing board) scent:
‘Every time I’m making a batch of that scent I am back in the water. And I just love to listen to my customers’ memories and associations while they are sniffing the candle.’
The idea of creating scents that bring back memories is addictive by itself. The scents captured in each Brandt product makes you think of happy moments. While in everyday life these moments bring Giselle a solid group of customers which she actually loves to talk to. Brandt is open to ideas and thoughts of its consumers, which helps to stay in a constant process of self-improvement.
Concerning future plans of transferring scents into memories, the upcoming collection Nomad will be inspired by Giselle’s cycle tour of 4 months through Europe: ‘This collection will be an ode to our beautiful continent, with its forests, flowers, herbs and spices. It is going to be a real struggle to choose scents. The most popular ones are Honeysuckle, Sandalwood & Patchouli and Green Tea Lime.’