WORDS Celeste Jacobs PHOTOS Lionel Botha and Supplied
Finally, a local brand that allows all candle lovers to feel the burn: the team at Okra Candle combines witty design touches (and product names) with quality craftsmanship.
In January 2020, the first Okra Candle moulds were produced. “It’s about childhood memories combined with traditions that add fire to adult dreams,” says Okra Candle’s Michelle du Preez. Michelle’s background in TV production and luxury events helped her spot a gap in the South African market for something different when it comes to candles – and combining her eye for detail and design with co-founder Erik Rust’s background in biochemistry and computer-aided design soon brought Okra Candle to life.
“Until recently, each candle that left our Somerset West studio was modelled, moulded, refined, hand-poured and packaged by Erik and me,” says Michelle. “But our team is growing! We’ve opened a weekend getaway studio in Ceres; it’s managed by our two new candle-makers, Ilze Rust and Celia Potgieter. And Keisha Thompson – aka Lady K – keeps all the creative souls on track with her administration and client-service prowess.”
Of their decision to hand-pour their creations, Michelle says, “Agility and imperfect perfection are two concepts that are difficult to reproduce by mass-processing methods. By hand-pouring our candles, we ensure that there will always be room for individuals to empower themselves with the craft of candle-making, constantly challenged by the individual needs of our clients. The fact that the candles are 100% handmade also leaves room for acts of serendipity and individual expression.”