Hand-poured in Sydney, Gascoigne & King is the environmentally friendly, soy candle line of Bronwyn Gascoigne & Dean King. We caught up with Bronwyn and asked her to share their little story, inspirations and visions. Meet the maker...
TO START, WHAT ARE THE THREE WORDS YOU ASSOCIATE WITH GASCOIGNE & KING?
Family & Friends and Fragrance
TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOUR JOURNEY AND ABOUT YOUR FIRST MOMENT OF INSPIRATION?
I have always loved to assemble, build and create things. I love the creative process, the experimentation, the problem solving. It all leads to something beautiful.
The first moments of inspiration for Gascoigne & King came from the feedback of friends and family on some candles I had made for myself. I kept working on the first few fragrances until I realised that what I was making really was quite good, very different from anything available in the market. People had begun asking if they were for sale. That was over 6 years ago……….now G&K is a well-known brand. We sell to over 85 fantastic retailers around the world. I work for myself, with incredible people and customers. I love managing and growing my own brand. It’s impossible to imagine doing anything else now.
WHERE DO YOU TURN TO DRAW YOUR INSPIRATION?
My father Ray Gascoigne inspires me. He is 84, and still making Ships in Bottles – he lives on the Northern beaches, has spent his entire life on the sea. The attention to detail in his work is just incredible.
His ships have been used in Sibella Court’s book Etcetera, he had the front cover of The Smith Journal and has had a short film made called Bottled History (check it out on Vimeo) which is just beautiful.
So I don’t need to look any further for inspiration than Dad.
DO YOU STILL MAKE ALL G&K CANDLES AT HOME?
Sure do. The neighbours all know when I am making – I get compliments all day as the fragrance gets out onto the street. It does get pretty hectic, particularly leading up to Christmas – this year has been the busiest yet. I think a small warehouse or something similar in Surry Hills is on the cards for 2015. Then I can return the house to the family.
HOW LONG DO YOU TYPICALLY SPEND ON CREATING A SCENT?
It takes more time than you would think. I worked on the CandleSmith range of 3 scents – Denim, Tobago & Oregon, for over a year until I knew I had it exactly right.
There is a lot of trial and error, reworking with a little more of this and a little less of that. My fragrances are quite complex – this makes them totally unique to Gascoigne & King, but also adds significant time to the process. Unlike perfume, it all has to be able to burn in a candle which adds another layer of difficulty to it all.
DO YOU HAVE A FRAGRANCE BLEND THAT IS PARTICULARLY CLOSE TO YOUR HEART?
No I love them all and that’s why they are all in the range. Anything that isn’t great I don’t range and there have been lots of those.
The seasons tend to determine what I burn at home. Summer is a great time of the year for Shibui, Belle & Miss Savannah. The CandleSmith range is great for winter.
WHAT SETS G & K APART FROM OTHERS?
Initially it’s my unique fragrances. Then it really has to be the attention to detail in everything we do, and never compromising on quality. Nothing leaves Gascoigne & King that I am not 110% happy with.
Environmentally G&K only use sustainably farmed eco-soy wax. There is no paraffin, no palm. Making a luxury product with the environment in mind is very, very important to us.
Working with locals and other small Australian businesses makes a huge difference too. Gascoigne & King keep our graphic design, web development, photography etc local, working with professionals/friends in Surry Hills for virtually all aspects of our branding & marketing. Our soap is hand made using olive oil collected directly from the farm in Victoria.
When you buy a Gascoigne & King product, you know where it has come from, who has made it, and that the quality will never be compromised.
TELL US ABOUT THE LATEST INSTALMENT OF YOUR RANGE AND YOUR WORK WITH NICHE FRENCH PERFUMERY ETAT LIBRE D’ORANGE?
CandleSmith is our latest candle range. In many ways it as inspired by dad. They are old style fragrances – tobacco, bay leaf, cedarwood, cloves, oakmoss, and galbanum for example. The dark glass creates a very moody light as it burns. I am reminded of trade winds, travel and old-fashioned simple pleasures.
My husband Dean King came across Etat Libre d’Orange in Le Marais, Paris in November last year. They are a really bold and provocative perfume house, known for breaking the rules of the established fine fragrance industry. Like G&K, they are a small team and are completely passionate about their product. Etat Libre d’Orange have had some very interesting collaborations too, working with Tilda Swinton for example to create Like This.
Different perfumers create all the fragrances with no restrictions on what they can use so it results in very unique high quality fragrance. We knew instantly that our existing retailers would love the edginess of the branding and the range of perfumes and we had an immediate distribution channel to some of Australia’s most beautiful boutiques and high-end retailers. It made sense for both parties. In September 2014 we signed an exclusive 5-year agency agreement with Etat Libre d’Orange and the first order arrived in Australia in early November. We really enjoy working with them too – a really groovy team of Parisians. What’s not to love?
WE SEE YOU’VE RE-CONCEPTUALISED YOUR PACKAGING AND HAVE ADDED SOAPS TO YOUR PRODUCT REPERTOIRE, WHAT’S NEXT FOR G & K?
The Gascoigne & King brand has been around for over 6 years now and people love the simplicity of our brand and packaging, so it was a big decision to make any changes. We wanted to make it a little bolder, whilst staying with the simple design and branding that we are known for. I think it has worked and the feedback so far has only been positive, so we know out customers like it, which is the most important thing.
What’s next? A holiday. A couple of weeks in Hawaii early in the New Year and I can’t wait.
I am experimenting with a Botanical’s range at the moment, perhaps one or two more gorgeous soaps for the collection.
2015 will also be a big year for us overseas. We are approached regularly by distributors wanting to take G&K to the US & European markets. Our O/S retail base is expanding nicely at the moment and that should really ramp up as the year goes on.
DO YOU FIND YOURSELF INSPIRED BY OTHER AUSTRALIAN DESIGNERS AND CREATIVES?
I am inspired by anyone who can make a small business succeed, I can be really tough at times so that persistence is something I really respect.
On Arthur Street where I live, there is ALAS the Label (organic sleepwear), The Little Guy (coffee machines), The Grifter Brewing Co, NODI Rugs and Arthur Street Kitchen, so I don’t have to look far to find designers and creative’s I admire.
IF YOU COULD OFFER ONE PIECE OF ADVICE TO OTHER YOUNG SELF-STARTER CREATIVES WHAT WOULD IT BE?
Get to know your customers well. Gascoigne & King still work with the same retailers who took on our brand at the very beginning. They have been part of our journey. I still personally deliver all orders to my Sydney customers and have great relationships with them all.
And never cut corners or compromise on what is important to you. Ever. The integrity of your brand is all you have.