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.
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.
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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From industrial designer to interior architect to luxury retailer to fine artist, Stefanie Hauger clearly loves to work on new techniques and push boundaries. Here she talks to us about her journey, works, VANILLA HOME and retail in Singapore.
Stefanie Hauger describes her life as an immersion into the world of art and design in one form or another. Her lifestyle emporium in Singapore, Vanilla Home, was a natural extension of her work as an interior architect. The retail space is a platform for the artists and designers that Stefanie has curated since 2002.
While Stefanie’s brush with art has been life long – her mother was a painter and she studied fine art at college – she felt that she should give herself the opportunity to explore this field in more depth. She explains it to be “a loud calling”. And in 2011 Stefanie followed that inner voice by returning to fine art. She has spent the last six years depicting many of her experiences in the works she creates, whether it be paintings or sculptures.
Her experimentation with techniques won her the prestigious 2013 UOB Southeast Asian and Singapore Painting of the Year awards, and her work has been shown in numerous exhibitions, fairs and solo exhibitions. Evidently, she is not afraid to push boundaries in any form.
How would you describe your signature style?
I have always worked with very fluid paint to see where I can push boundaries with the medium. Years of experimentation have led to a particular style which is called Biomorphic Abstract – this describes living organisms set into an abstract context in art. Much of my work now revolves around nature, texture and life on a molecular or microscopic level.
How did this come about?
Years of experimenting with differing liquidities of paint and how they react with one another led to the fine tuning of certain techniques. I always want to push to the next level, never be stuck in just one technique, constantly find new ways to move people with a work of art.
My dominant art influences are the abstract impressionists who broke through the traditional confines of painting to show us new possibilities, not without their critics, and who thus opened up new realms of acceptance within the artworld. They also invented the ‘all-over painting’ where an entire canvas is filled with the same rhythm or texture or technique which is very much the way I work.
Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished / Stefanie Hauger
What’s your favourite subject to paint?
Nature, texture and living things in an abstract form. For the last 10 months I have also been working with combining the canvas with metal fashion spikes which creates a multi-dimensional, interactive experience that is a heady mixture of the fluid art and the rigidity of the metal.
What types of techniques have your explored?
I have explored many different techniques, most notably thick impasto paintings and paintings that are created purely through manipulation of the canvas instead of using a brush. In fact I generally use a brush only to mix the paint, after that it is up to my physical interaction with the canvas that determines the outcome. It is sometimes like a dance and other times like a wrestling match.
What do you do when you feel uninspired?
I am rarely uninspired, I don’t really get artist’s block. If anything I have to stop myself going off in too many different directions, I am constantly having to pull myself back to what I am currently working on and sticking to one theme and a series. But when I am stuck I read about artists that inspire me and this gets me going again pretty fast.
Adopt the pace of nature… / Stefanie Hauger
Art is a huge discipline; it is hard, hard work and requires massive concentration and perseverance. And there are many times when the results are not what one might have wished for and a ‘good artist’ will work through that with courage and determination and perhaps a small, healthy dose of self-belief. Fearlessness is another important factor in being a good artist, without that you will never make an unexpected stroke or think outside of the box.
How do you curate brands for Vanilla Home?
We select brands based on quality, craftsmanship, timeless elegance and their particular artisanal style. In other words we buy from small manufacturers and workshops who make a few products to an exceptional level, people who share our deep passion for the finest things in life that a customer will keep for life.
In your opinion, what’s the future state of the retail industry in Singapore?
For Singapore to once again become the premier shopping destination in South East Asia will require a huge joint effort from both the Government and retailers. The Government need to regulate high retail space rental costs, lower manufacturing costs in the industrial sector and address the very high number of shopping malls in Singapore all selling the same thing and offering a very similar experience.
Retailers are already doing their part. In order to survive against increased rivalry regionally, constant competition from eCommerce giants and the drastic change in demographics of shoppers they are embracing the power of digital and will be providing customers with a truly unique first-class 360-degree shopping experience. Success in the future will be had by those who provide the very best customer service, deliver a customer experience that seamlessly moves between online and bricks and mortar and by those who sell exciting, exclusive, good quality, well priced products. Sounds easy!
My advice for aspiring creatives is: fearlessness, courage, hard work, discipline and perseverance. Also train yourself to see the world through your ‘artist lens’, your interpretation and your mind’s eye, if you don’t take what you see around you too literally then your artistic self will have a chance to emerge. And don’t take yourself too seriously, sometimes when are having a real slump the best thing is to throw the painting on the floor and dance on it and see what happens next.
Nature does not hurry… II / Stefanie Hauger
How would you describe the style/vibe of Singapore?
Singapore’s style is one of constant change due to it being a young country and a truly multicultural one. Singapore and Singaporeans are constantly adapting to incredibly fast changes made both to their urban landscape and population demographic. We’ve seen this lead to constant diffusion of new styles and creative hubs that need time to develop properly to become authentic cultural markers for Singapore. There is one constant however, and that is a Singaporean’s love for and affinity with luxury branded goods! A true marker of Singapore’s style.
Where is on the top of your travel bucket list?
At the top of my travel bucket list is actually India. I have never been even though my house is filled with Indian artefacts, textiles and furniture. Perhaps I have never gone because I know I would bring half of India home with me…
In 5 years you will find me…
probably doing exactly the same things I am doing now. I truly love everything I am involved in and have no desire for change.
Sid Avery (1918 – 2002) was an American photographer and director who was best known for capturing the private moments of legendary Hollywood celebrities like Frank Sinatra, James Dean, Elizabeth Taylor, Marlon Brando, Humphrey Bogart and Elizabeth Taylor. Avery founded the Hollywood Photographer's Archive (HPA), which is known today as mptvimages.com, in an effort to preserve the work of early Hollywood photographers. A selection Sid Avery's works – curated by Jason Minty – is currently displayed at Becker Minty in Sydney. The opening night was a celebration of Avery’s works and life with the sharing of tales of his legendary subjects to boot.
Oceans Eleven Cast, 1960
Sammy Davis Jr with Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Peter Lawford and Joey Bishop
Having studied under his uncle, Max Tatch, a landscape and architectural photographer, Avery discovered his love and talent of photography when he was young. After graduating from high school, Avery worked in a camera store on Sunset Boulevard, Hollywood, where he met many famous photographers. He began his work of photographing celebrities straight after returning from the war, and eventually became one of the top advertising photographers in Los Angeles.
Dean Martin and his Facel Vega HK500 in the driveway of his Beverly Hills home on Mountain Drive, 1961
Avery was key to pioneering a new style of glamour photography that emerged in the fifties. “Candid” was the word in vogue and it was Avery’s ability to candidly capture the private lives of celebrities that lead him to became the go-to photographer for magazine editors and art directors, and be named “Hollywood's Private Eye” by Vanity Fair.
Elizabeth Taylor sunning herself while on location in Marfa Texas for the film Giant, 1955
Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward at their Beverly Hills home, 1958
After Avery passed away at the age of 83 in 2002, the New York Times described his work to be "a departure from the glamorized, soft-focus portraits of an earlier Hollywood era when images of the stars were tightly controlled by the major studios."
Debbie Reynolds before going into Paramount to film The Pleasure of His Company with her Lincoln Mark 2, 1960
Frank Sinatra at a Capitol Records recording session in Los Angeles, circa 1960
As Singapore’s most iconic hotel undergoes a significant restoration programme, artist Clare Haxby pays tribute to Raffles Hotel Singapore with a limited edition print depicting a typical day at the foyer of the hotel.
Since first opening its doors in 1887, Raffles Hotel Singapore has become an icon that epitomises the romance of the Far East – an intoxicating blend of luxury, history and colonial design.
Named after Stanford Raffles the founder of modern Singapore and the East India Trading Company, this luxury five star hotel has embarked on a careful and sensitive restoration programme. Designed to retain what is so special about Raffles – the ambiance, the service, the charm and the heritage of the hotel – while staying relevant and distinctive by moving with the times and with its guests and adapting to the changing needs of the well-travelled and Singapore’s community.
While the elegant white colonial building is undergoing restorative work in three phases throughout 2017, Raffles Hotel will always remain the home of the world famous ‘Singapore Sling’ cocktail designed by the resident Barman at the Long Bar. With the Long Bar closed for restoration, the Singapore Sling will be served at Bar & Billiard Room until mid-December 2017.
Inspired by this noteworthy milestone in not only Raffles Hotel’s history, but also Singapore progression forward, artist Clare Haxby has created a limited edition print that depicts a typical day at the foyer of the Hotel with guests waiting for taxi aided by the much loved Raffles Doorman: one of the most photographed men in Singapore.