Eleni Panagiotou, Candlelit and Co.

by | Designers

From her annual pilgrimage to her motherland, Greece, Eleni Panagiotou reflects on how she turned a “let’s get crafty and do a candle making workshop” thought into the successful Melbourne based business CANDLELIT & CO in the most unorthodox way.

Logan Komorowski, United Strangers | Behind the Seams | Travelshopa

Many businesses start with a pain point or gap to fill, and some start as a love affair, turn into an obsession, and then become a business, organically. The latter is how Eleni Panagiotou started Candlelit and Co..

Raised by traditional Greek parents with a strong work ethic, Eleni feels it was only natural for her to turn a passion into a business. However, it was more than that. A strong love of homewares, a keen eye for design and a gap in the market fuel her creative process. As a result Eleni pioneered the true marble candle in Australia, swiftly moved onto the Scandinavian inspired grid candle and has now gone back to basics with a new CODED series.

Eleni visits her motherland each year for a bit of R&R. Like any true entrepreneur her mind never stops ticking and gathering ideas for what’s to come. She believes that moments are her greatest inspiration. This trip is no different. She confesses that her grandmother’s favourite tree lemon myrtle (in Athens, Greece) may be the start of her next move.

Can you describe the process of crating the perfect candle?

Our candles are carefully created from only the highest quality eco soy wax and through endless meetings with our parfumers to create the perfect scent. Quality over quantity is what we believe in when crafting each candle. Through years of testing we have discovered the perfect balance to creating a clean burning scented candle. We’ve recently started running Candle Making Workshops to share our tips and tricks of the trade with new candle makers looking to start a business, and also those looking for a new hobby.

How did the CODED series come about and what does it all mean?

Anyone who knows me will tell you I’m self taught when it comes to the business and marketing side of Candlelit and Co.. Over the past 5 years, after repeated disappointing meetings, marketers from a number of major Australian homewares stores have refused our product due to our basic series “not being colour coded” – like so many other candle businesses. I often got “You NEED to colour code your series” or “It won’t matter that your brand will resemble another”.

They were convinced that we too should colour code our candles and packaging! But who wants to be like everyone else right? With the aim to offer a point of difference to our customers, we coded our latest series ‘CODED’ with the Greek Alphabet as an alternative to the colours and number codes that have penetrated the candle market.

The Greek letters were chosen as I was born and raised in Athens so it’s a part of who I am and I want to share that connection with our customers.

What inspires you?

Moments, mainly moments. It’s 6.23am in Athens, drinking my Greek coffee and overlooking a glimpse of Lykavittos and next to me my grandmothers favourite tree lemon myrtle and all I can think of is “that would make an amazing scent”.

What has been the biggest highlight in business?

My biggest highlight(s) are when I still to this day see sales coming in from stockists and customers that have supported our journey since day one – always fills my heart.

Logan Komorowski, United Strangers | Behind the Seams | Travelshopa
Logan Komorowski, United Strangers | Behind the Seams | Travelshopa

The Greek letters were chosen as I was born and raised in Athens so it’s a part of who I am and I want to share that connection with our customers.

How would you describe the style/vibe of Melbourne?

Individuality! Melbourne black is what we’re known for but don’t be fooled just around the corner you may just see pops of colour.

What is your favourite thing about Melbourne?

The Cafes – because coffee is taken on another level here, Restaurants – always something new with renowned chefs opening a piece of heaven for us to indulge, and Shops…where do I begin? If you need it, or want it, you’ll find it!

Which local retailers are your go to and why?

Homewares – If in Melbourne you need to visit Fenton & Fenton! Even the minimalists in you will surrender to owner Lucy’s love for colour. So many unique pieces to visually place in your world but this comes with a disclaimer – best you visit with all or no credit cards. You’ve been warned – Happy Shopping.

Fashion – Elk is the place to be – tucked away in Melbourne’s North you won’t be disappointed. Style, quality and artful pieces designed by local married duo Marnie and Adam. Hot tip – Get to their pop up sales if you dare (you’re welcome)!

What is your top style tip?

Comfort – Don’t let anyone tell you you have to feel binding in order to look amazing. Stay away from copy paste chains – search for unique boutiques that will have you love your body all over again with their one off pieces.


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