Member Spotlight: Meet Jake Paget and Dan McKinley

College friends Jake Paget [left] and Dan McKinley [right] had no idea that they would eventually become business partners. They had certainly not anticipated ever coming together to launch a range of scented candles. However, when they spotted a gap in the market, they believed the opportunity was too good to pass up.

We were working in design and covering luxury retail where you would find expensive, pungent scented candles in big elaborate packaging. We thought we could do a lot better than that.

“We were working in design and covering luxury retail where you would find expensive, pungent scented candles in big elaborate packaging. We thought we could do a lot better than that,” said Dan. “Everyone was sick to death of the poor quality generic products.”

The pair left their jobs in design and advertising to focus on building a brand that offered natural, scented candles. “Quitting our jobs and starting up was a big risk,” Jake said. “It took the safety net away,” added Dan.

They launched McKinley & Paget 18 months ago in east London and now sell through markets and independent shops in the capital and Plymouth. Their candles, made from coconut wax, essential oils and cotton-linen wicks, will also soon be found in Scandinavia, where the founders have just agreed a distribution deal. The range includes a cedarwood, nutmeg and vetiver candle for the home and a palmarosa, lemongrass and cypress scent for outside.

We met in a lift when I had big stupid hair. My hair took up half the lift.

Jake and Dan became friends while studying art at college. “We met in a lift when I had big stupid hair. My hair took up half the lift,” Jake laughed. “We bonded over a love of contextual study and the theory around art and design practice. So maybe that’s what brought us here 10 years later, the fact we like the depth, the context and the knowledge and understanding behind design, not just the design itself.”

We had to look at what was there and experiment a lot.

Though their passions aligned, starting up was not straightforward. “There wasn’t much advice on wax or how to create a completely natural candle to fill a room beautifully. The whole industry relies on weaker candles to sell more,” Jake said. “We had to look at what was there and experiment a lot.”

They are bullish about the quality and sustainability of their products and are hoping to raise some external investment to produce their own essential oils in order to manage the production of their candles from start to finish. “We live in a world where more and more people care about a vegan or vegetarian food, or where their clothes come from, so why not other consumer goods?” Jake said, with Dan adding: “You set fire to this product in your house, you should probably know where it’s come from and what’s in it.” They are hoping to open a showroom in Shoreditch in the near future where customers can experience the candles and see how they are made.

Check out McKinley & Paget’s website here.