The Scented Journey: A Candle Maker's Story

Frosa Katsis, owner of Soy Candles, shares her passion for scents through candle and soap making workshops across Melbourne.

Creativity 10 min read Sep 25, 2019
The Scented Journey: A Candle Maker's Story

Nothing can compare to the soft glow and the sweet aroma that candles can bring to a room. Which is why Frosa’s soy candles are much sought after for their beautiful and natural quality. What started as simply making an addition to an aromatherapy range has overhauled Frosa’s entire career and spurred a lifetime love affair between her and candles.

Now while her business came to fill the niche of providing lovely scented candles to a market that demanded it, her passion grew even further that her business’ focus shifted to teaching the art of candle making - in a way that is not complicated, but rather fascinating. In this feature, we chat with Frosa about her bespoke services, and what it means to her to be able to share her passion through classes and workshops.

Join Frosa in her hands-on workshops and make exquisite gifts for friends and family. A 20% discount is up for grabs for the next two weeks. Details are at the end of this article.

WTM: Hello Frosa! Can you share with us your story? How did your love for candle making come to be?

My background is as a chemist working in the medical research field and with that comes the use of chemicals. I worked as Research Officer in Protein & Metabolism for over 36 years. The progression eventuated because we had an emu farm originally and needed to work out a way to value add as primary producers. So we started making massage oils which were the easiest to start with. It became a part of my life - mixing, experimenting, developing. It’s what I did when designing experiments. I just applied it to my products. My goal with my business was to keep all our products as natural as I could make them. This includes not only our candles, but also our soap making and our skincare products.

WTM: What and when did you make your first candle?

Candle making for me starting around 12 years ago, and I have been teaching for at least 8 years.

WTM: Why soy candles in particular?

Once I discovered soy, I was off and running. I was looking for a wax that was easy to use, environmentally friendly and it was a new trend.  Soy is from the natural group of waxes which includes soy, coconut, and beeswax. It has a low melt point, has good fragrance throw, is biodegradable and a renewable resource. If made correctly, burns longer and cleanly. This appealed to me because it meant I didn’t have to pour them into moulds and then un-mould.

WTM: Can you tell us a little bit about your process of making soy candles?

The process is quite simple if you stick to the rules - my rules that is. The most important aspect of the candle making process is the melting of the wax. Minimal heat to melt the wax, selecting the correct jar, the right wick for your jar and not getting carried away with how much fragrance and colour you add.

WTM: Can you share your most memorable successes and challenges when you were starting out Soy Candles?

The biggest challenge was neither the making or the teaching. My biggest challenge was finding the time to fit everything in that I wanted to do as I was working full time as a Research Officer, we were operating an emu farm, had three teenagers, managed the Gisborne Olde Time Market and was trying to run a business. The success was realising that I could actually turn a hobby into a successful business and also teaching over 4000 people how to make candles and soaps. There is nothing better than when students realise they too can make them.

WTM: On your website it says your focus shifted from simply making an addition to your aromatherapy range to teaching candle making. Can you tell us more about this progression?

I was actually approached by CAE to teach some candle and soap making classes for them many years ago, which started off the process. I then approached our local Further Education Centre to see if they were interested in running classes. It kind of snowballed form there and realised that I actually enjoyed the teaching side more than the selling side.

WTM: Do you have an unforgettable teacher-student experience?

There are a couple that I can tell you about. I had a student booked in for a class late last year who burst into tears on the phone because she had to cancel her class within 24 hours of the class date. She was a new mum, had a young baby and her husband had been called into work and had no baby sitter. As it was the day of the class she assumed that she would lose her spot. It broke my heart, this young mum so distraught. After calming her down and letting her know that she could reschedule, she finally made it to class. The second was a recent event.  I now give a prize to the best candle maker for the class. Each student selects their best and I do a blind selection. The young lady that won, burst into tears, she was so excited. I seem to make them cry! The prize is one of my EVA bags ( beach bag)

WTM: Your candles are gorgeous! What do you love most about making them and what inspires you to keep making them?

The search is always on for great glassware. Soy wax melts at a low temperature, so they need to be in jars. I have a great supplier that I now work with and their glassware is amazing. The chemist in me loves mixing fragrances and experimenting. My instruction manual is 40 pages, not  two pages. I like to explain the chemistry behind the process and this way anyone can make great candles. The more I learn, the more I can teach.

I prefer to keep my candles white and love the lemongrass - eucalyptus blend, but also really like a fragrance called Baies (A truly beautiful fruity accord of blackcurrant with rose petals and hints of fir needle, clove, lemon peel and musk) This is the description but your sense of smell is unique and what it smells like to me may smell different to you.

WTM: What are your goals for Soy Candles for the rest of 2017?

I now have a permanent work space in Fairfield which I will be setting up in the next month with classes starting mid May. It’s very exciting as it means I can be flexible, will be working closely with the wax and glassware supplier and I can create a workspace that is well set up, clean, and most of all a fun environment. My workshop in Gisborne is what I will base it on as I think I have the formula right. My goal is to keep improving and offering students a great experience.

Join in on the fun and make exquisite candle gifts for your friends and family. Use code: CANDLEART20 when you sign up for any of Soy Candle’s classes!

Sign up and get 20% OFF in all classes for the next two weeks!
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