For Mags Ralston, the love of candle making came almost by accident. It was November 2016 when she responded to a local advert selling small jars, which she had planned to use for crafts. When Mags realised the seller was also offering their candle-making supplies, she bought them on the spot – and Taigh Dubh Candles was born (writes Katie Macleod).
“I had never made a candle before, but from the minute I started I absolutely loved it,” says Mags, whose business has been going from strength to strength through local support and word of mouth.
Created in her work shed at home in Point, the candles come in a range of scents, sizes, and styles, and can be found in community shops like Buth an Rubha, Cross Stores, and Ravenspoint, as well as at the Stornoway and Tarbert craft fairs. There are even plans to sell online in the coming months, too.
“We spend a lot of time researching, and there’s a lot of testing involved,” explains Mags, whose daughter, Kirsty, helps with the candle making after school. “You’re testing everything, like the wax, the colour of the flame, the height of the flame, the times involved – and if the candle smells nice, of course. Everything gets tested before it goes out.”
Mags sources eco-friendly premium scents and wicks to use in her products, including the soy wax candles, which come in small white tins and feature 100 different scents that are everything from fruity to flowery, like black pomegranate, peppermint crème, and even cherry bakewell.
[gallery ID=4] (Photography by Sandie Photos)
In addition to the regular soy wax candles, which sell at £5 each, Mags offers the same style in smaller, heart-shaped tins for weddings, and can make larger candles on request. The Taigh Dubh pillar candles are larger, and can be imprinted with personalised messages – “for birthdays, Mother’s Day, or the mother of the bride or groom at a wedding” – while the teacup candles are also popular gifts. She also offers paschal candles, as well as the Taigh Dubh chessmen candles, which are made from 100 per cent beeswax, and require intense preparation due to the detail involved; a national agency has recently shown interest in stocking them on their mainland premises. This spring will also see the release of fresheners, due to popular demand from customers.
Ten percent of all these Taigh Dubh Candles sales are donated to the Salvation Army, and Mags specialises in making unique candles for local charities, including Macmillan Cancer Relief and Alzheimher Scotland. “It’s about paying it forward and raising money and awareness for them,” says Mags, whose ultimate dream is to open a Taigh Dubh Candles shop and workshop, where she could help provide work to those who need help getting back into employment. “There’s a need for that, I’d love to be able to help build people’s confidence and esteem. It’s about more than candles.”
As for the journey so far, Mags says it’s been “brilliant. We’re trying new things all the time, it’s fresh, it’s exciting. We’ve had lots of support from local people, people genuinely want to help us. I’ve got loads of ideas about what I want to do, but right now it’s about doing things one bit at a time.”