Life Instyle Stories • Looby Lou Candles #2

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The Life Instyle Stories Series is all about giving the members of our illustrious community the opportunity to shine. Grab a cup of tea and indulge in a few minutes of inspiration as we bring to you our brand new series profiling fantastic people with fascinating stories.

In today’s edition of Life Instyle Stories, Kere, from Looby Lou  returns for her second instalment and we couldn’t be more thrilled. Kere is discussing motivation, which ties into why we get out of bed each and everyday, in order to do the best possible job at work. Regardless of what it is that you do, there is nothing more delightful than to see passion and commitment to excellence and Kere is certainly no stranger to this…

WHAT GETS ME OUT OF BED IN THE MORNING?

Kere:

I have always envied those ‘morning people’ you hear about. You know – the ones that leap out of their beds with the sun, smiling and skipping into their days.  Adrian is one of ‘those people’, I however, am not. I’m one of those, “don’t talk to me until I’m properly caffeinated, for your own safety” people in the morning.

HQ couch

When my daughter was but one (she’s now fifteen), I began my four year life changer at Enmore Design Centre. It was mostly four evenings a week for four years. It worked for me, as I was always a little nocturnal, but this sealed my fate. Home at 10pm, mind overflowing with creative ideas, inspired and challenged by my peers and teachers with the moon glowing above. This was my most special and sacred time, when it was quiet outside – and that hasn’t changed. My best work is always done inappropriately late, while proper folks are sleeping.

So firstly, what get’s me up is definitely coffee (you know it doesn’t count as a coffee if you didn’t enjoy it right?) Then, well, I suppose I do. Nothing in life works unless you do. Some days that’s harder than others, but it’s always tempered with the thought that I’m blessed to be awake today. There’s even days where that thought can occur BEFORE the coffee. I know right? It’s the stuff of Unicorns and Damon Salvatore!

No.7 (blk)

But really – moving forward is what gets me out of bed. I always have some sort of goal set for the week, month, 3 months ahead and beyond. I’m a big list maker – and there’s no better feeling than ticking off completed tasks (I’ve already admitted to my OCD tendencies in my previous blog). This year I’ve been working to a schedule of different tasks for each day, and being really disciplined with it. (Yes, it’s an excel spreadsheet, yes I made it look pretty… and yes, eye rolling at me for admitting this is fair).

I’m presently working on a few new things at HQ, one of which you’re getting a sneak peek at in these photos … For years customers have asked me for this product, but I was yet to find a carrier medium that was plant based and alcohol free that also didn’t alter the purity of the scents. I’m utterly thrilled that now I have. This product has had more attempts than I care to admit (and one we could potentially package as a really good smelling paint stripper at a later date – not even kidding).

 

No.7 (white)

Our Aroma Mist was tested by 24 lucky product testers, and the feedback is beyond expectation. This will be a product added to our Classic. Collection. Oh, and we are also releasing TWO new fragrances to our Classic. Collection. I’m really excited about this, as both are featuring two scents I’ve really wanted to work with since day one – but have never found an oil I believed to be a true enough interpretation. Any guesses?

We’re also getting the Christmas range ready (we’ve dropped one, and added two) making some minor changes to streamline the look a tiny bit, AND we’ve re-branded our Elements range completely. Elements has been a tricky one for us, as the scents tested really well, people love them – but they haven’t been as strong performers as some of our others. So we questioned, badgered you all and played – and are really happy with the new look. We hope you are too.

HQ shelves (classic row)
All these changes will be rolled out over the next couple of months, but you’re seeing them here first! So you see, this is what gets me out of me – because this kind of creative mayhem doesn’t do itself.

WHO / WHAT INSPIRES AND MOTIVATES ME THE MOST?

This is a seemingly simple question, but it’s so very loaded. Having had some time to ponder if fully – there’s so many possible answers to it… Inspiration is genuinely limitless when you’re open to it (and frankly it’s there even when you’re not). I found this one hard in that it feels a little ego driven answering direct questions about myself but I’ll give it a shot.

As always, I’m going to get really honest here, and admit that I’m really driven and motivated by those who tell me that I can’t – or shouldn’t. My younger life wasn’t filled with all that many people who believed I’d amount to much; so to that end, I had to find my own way, and create my own tribe of like-minded humans who genuinely love seeing others thrive. In my younger years that sense of self-sufficiency, and I suppose personal responsibility was isolating for me, and perhaps confusing for others. I’ve embraced it with the passing years – and realise it as a blessing that I now get to accept my personal successes as I’ve always accepted my own failures.

 HQ shelves (mist row)

I’ve long loved the quote by Erica Jong, which I’ve always seen as perfectly sassy and delightfully tongue in cheek; “Take your life in your own hands, and what happens? A terrible thing: no one to blame.”

My greatest creative fear would be creative (and personal) complacency, and the subsequent bitterness I’ve seen that induce in too many people. Kylie Lewis (one of the people who’ve inspired me the most since beginning Loobylou) speaks of taking leaps, and writes about them in the Leap Stories. It resonates so strongly with me because I’ve always been a natural leaper, and I honestly fear the not leaping, more than the leaping itself. The Google bio for The Leap stories is: The Leap Stories: Intimate Interviews on Overcoming Fear, Choosing Courage Over Comfort, and Designing a Fulfilling Career. Everything right? And that someone is collecting the stories of these people who just get in there and have a go, despite the odds? It’s so very important – and in doing so, inspiring people who may not otherwise leap, and could have led a life of unanswered questions and feeling so unfulfilled.

aroma mist (row)

So in saying that, I’m inspired by ALL my creative peers. Creative journeys are often harder than most, in that we operate from a deeply personal place within ourselves. Creative people aim to make their living by sharing with others their personal interpretation of the world as they witness it, express what is important to them – then share that hoping to find acceptance, encouragement, understanding – and let’s face it – customers! Being creative (whether you’re a maker, artist, writer, jeweller, singer, actor) is a journey rife with rejection, and the big goal for me is always just getting back on the horse, (because you WILL fall along the way) each time a little quicker than the last.

There’s also a really big high that comes with inspiring others and lifting them up when they falter on their own paths. How can you then not trust in the knowing that you’ll have a hand reach out and guide you should you ever need one (and you WILL need one). An early mentor used to tell me often; “The Universe hates a void” so when you consciously choose to not do/be something which no longer serves you (ie. me and the corporate world full of heels, filing, and things that didn’t make my heart sing), you can only fill that space with what you choose to do and be (ie. me and candles, colour and art).

ELEMENTS (jars)

To that end, we founded a non-profit creative space in 2010 in our neck of the woods: www.undergroundartspace.com The point of the space was to provide a safe haven encouraging growth and freedom for creative folks. We have what is referred to as a “wanker free policy” in the space, in that we don’t care what you’ve done, or who you know – we just care that you’ll be cool to your studio peers. A sense of humour is a must; along with respect for each other and the profound bravery its taken to leap into the creative unknown. This has always been the underlying premise that has governed the ARTspace.

Final

Within the candle industry my biggest lesson, and inspiration would have to be Christianna Heideman of Damselfy. When I was dreaming up Loobylou back in that hospital room, I had some funny, quirky (and sweary) ideas that I thought were hilarious, and wanted to share them. I discussed them with a few people, all of whom said things like “No, you can’t say that on a candle,” or “That will offend people and put them off.” And I backed down. It was me that let other people’s suggestions of an idea for my brand dictate what it became. Christianna didn’t, and her sass, bravery and legendary lady balls have created one of the biggest and brightest (pun intended) candle companies to have come from our fair shores. I love Loobylou, and the direction I since took, and while I don’t have any regrets – this is a stand out lesson to always be my most fearless self, and she’s proof to me that that kind of authenticity is naturally rewarded.

We are so lucky in this country, as we have some amazing candle makers who actually care about the integrity, materials, quality and point of difference of their brands. They keep us on our toes to do and be better. Another stand out for me is definitely Alchemy Produx (their packaging is never anything short of phenomenal).

I get a huge buzz when I’m sharing shelf space with either of these incredible brands.

WHAT SURPRISES ME ABOUT OUR INDUSTRY?

Interestingly, one thing that surprises me even still, relates to both the above mentioned brands, in that they’ve both been knocked off quite horrifically, and I feel a little wounded on behalf of them.

Very recently I saw a florist/candle maker ripping off Damselfly’s most famous quote (you know the one, just ask Madonna if not…) on a candle and flogging it off as though it was their idea. I actually tagged Damselfly in the post! And when a large chain international started doing similar vessels as Alchemy, and then another had both a similar aesthetic AND name as them, I was both sad and angry on behalf of my peers. I know how hard they worked to bring the public the deservedly brilliant products they have. I know they’re on their laptops late at night being pedantic about branding, and in the studio adding 0.002ml to get a fragrance ‘just right’ and that they don’t see their friends or families as often as they would like.

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I know the kind of dedication, motivation, and sacrifice that can take, and I honour them. There is an unwavering belief that what we are doing is worth it. I’m so excited by originality and individuality – but there’s a big difference between inspiration and exploitation. Creating is such a beautiful thing, and it SHOULD morally offend us when big corporations exploit that.

I also keep hearing people talk about ‘luck’ be it towards wholesale brands, retailers, re-sellers and the like. This person ‘got lucky,’ that brand ‘had a lucky win.’ Honestly, I think that ‘luck’ is a cop out term we use because we don’t know how to congratulate ourselves, or our peers for their efforts; and the hours upon hours of hard work when, and if, success comes.

Long Panel (scales) B+W

This industry (both the wholesale and retail sides of it) has some of the hardest working people around! There is so much happening behind the scenes, which leads to the creation of beautiful products, which land in beautiful retail spaces and then someone’s much treasured home or office. None of us just wish this into creation – we work, hard.

As an ex-retailer myself, I really loved knowing the stories, ideas, histories behind the products I stocked, so just ask. Sometimes it’s incredibly inspiring, sometimes it’s nothing short of hilarious! But both parties will be richer for the question.

No.3

So in short, (or long winded, as I continue to be…) we need to be responsible as makers / buyers / retailers / consumers and we also need to have each other’s backs. Here’s the thing; We ARE the industry, we’re not just observers of it.

loobyloucandles.wordpress.com

Follow: @loobylou_candles

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