Meet twins Amara and Onya, Founders of ATLAS + OPHIR Candles
This year at Tide, we’ve welcomed many new members who have started their business at their kitchen table during the coronavirus lockdown.
In this post, we meet Amara and Onya, twin sisters from London who did exactly that: started a business at home, turning their passion into income.
👋 Hello Amara and Onya!
Congratulations on the launch of ATLAS + OPHIR. What does your company do?
We create luxury Carrara marble candles in scents inspired by travel, using organic coconut wax.
What motivated you to start your company?
During the lockdown, we found that we had a lot more time to enjoy our hobbies. We love all things interiors and home décor, so candles seemed like a fun way to express ourselves creatively with the extra time.
After experimenting with candle-making, we felt that there was a gap in the market for a beautiful, high-end candle with an eco-conscience. We were inspired by many like-minded creatives who were turning their passions into full-time work.
We started the business in April 2020. Then, after six months of testing, we launched our website, atlasandophir.co.uk, on 4 October.
Tell us about your company name – what does it mean?
We chose the name ATLAS + OPHIR for two reasons. Firstly, the ‘A’ and ‘O’ are our initials. Secondly, the words epitomise our themes of travel and luxury. ‘Atlas’ represents travel: the scents of our candles are inspired by the destination it’s named after. And ‘Ophir’ is a historic and wealthy port – this reflects the luxury element of our products.
How did you hear about Tide, and why did you choose us?
We chose Tide because it was the best option for small businesses and we heard so many positive reviews from others who banked with Tide.
That’s good to hear! What’s your favourite Tide feature and why?
Your ingredients and materials are important – where do you get them from?
We have to shout out Candle Shack, where we get the majority of our supplies from. It is a fantastic British company with a huge Facebook community who are always happy to help with candle-making tips.
In the world of candle-making, whose work do you admire?
These are fellow creative women of colour in the candle industry – they’re not only amazing at what they do but always happy to champion others. We try and do the same. In business, we love this quote: “a candle loses nothing by lighting another candle”.
😍That’s a great motto. What’s your favourite of the products you sell?
Our favourite would have to be our Marble Sets. We love that the insert refills encourage a cyclical mode – it reduces waste because the owner can keep the vessel forever.
What’s one thing you wish customers knew about candles?
Most scented candles contain paraffin wax, which is derived from petroleum, coal or shale oil.
When you burn a paraffin wax candle, you release toxic compounds into the air including benzene, a known carcinogen. Paraffin candles are not only harmful to the environment but for your health too.
😦 Yikes! Manufacturers don’t tell you that…
No. We believe it’s better to opt for more eco-conscious waxes. That’s why we use a pure, organic coconut wax.
Who would be your dream customer, and why?
Our dream customer would be the actress, Jessica Alba. We’ve seen her LA home via the online tour on Architectural Digest – wow! Her home is gorgeous! We also respect her commitment to natural products and ethical shopping.
But really, our dream customer is anyone who wants to invest in their home with a luxury item, without compromising on their eco-values.
How has your business been affected by the coronavirus crisis?
Thankfully, we haven’t been negatively impacted by the crisis. If anything, it has allowed us to spend more time at home developing and testing our candles.
We had initially hoped to launch a little earlier in the year but Covid-19 delayed many of our deliveries. Instead, we decided to launch in October because we didn’t want to rush the refinement and testing process.
Who do you ask for business advice?
We’re fortunate to be part of a supportive community of candlemakers on Facebook. Everyone shares great advice and motivates each other, which is essential when you’re getting your business off the ground.
Otherwise, our decisions have been driven largely by our own instincts. That, and a lot of trial and error!
Do you have a tip for other people thinking about starting their own small business?
We might be biased but for us, it’s been great to start the business together rather setting up alone. There’s so much involved – from website design, marketing, book-keeping to customer service – you name it. It makes the journey so much easier to have a partner.
So our number one tip would be: find someone with the same passion as you and start up together! And if that isn’t possible, have a circle of trusted friends or family members who can cast their eye over things for you.
Most importantly, we’d say: just go for it! There’s no ‘perfect’ time to get started and follow your dream.
How are you feeling about your company’s prospects for the next year?
Mixed! With so much uncertainty right now, it’s difficult to plan further than the end of next week. But overall, we’re feeling optimistic about the coming months. We’ve already had such a positive response to our candles – we’re excited to grow and expand into more home décor products. Watch this space!
We will! If Tide could support you more, what could we do?
We have felt so supported by Tide, we’re very grateful we opted to do our business banking with you. Even the fact that Tide is in touch with customers on social media and is keen to talk to us and spotlight our company is a huge support and bonus!
It’s our pleasure. Thank you for talking to us! We look forward to watching your company grow. 💙
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All photos courtesy of ATLAS + OPHIR