Are luxe and sustainability at odds?
Updated: Mar 16, 2021
Together with the founder of the eco-conscious luxury candles brand, Common Sense London, Lea Anna, we explore all things slow living, rituals to unwind and how to brighten your day with a little candle magic.
How did Common Sense London come about?
Lea Anna: It all traces back to my personal journey of becoming a conscious consumer. I have always loved candles and its power to transform any environment in a multitude of ways. Whenever I felt the need for a little luxury, candles always made me feel pampered without blowing my entire salary on a spa. In an attempt to live a greener life, I educated myself on the manufacturing practices of various industries so that I could discern what products aligned with my values. Unfortunately, when it came to candles, these brands were far and few between. There was nothing more disappointing than when I found out a candle company I adored used petroleum and palm oil in their products, and tested them on animals. It was also exhaustive and demoralizing having to research everything so extensively due to the recent surge of ‘greenwashing’ from companies.
My love affair with all things scented began a few summers ago. I had the pleasure of visiting the fragrance capital of the world, Grasse, in France. Having the opportunity to explore some of the oldest fragrance houses in the world furthered my interest in the physical and cognitive benefits of scents. I love crafting and building things, yet I always knew if I produced an item for the market, it would have to be more about giving, than profiting. Common Sense aligns perfectly with my purpose and intention.
To us, it is common sense that a premium product meets the highest standards, from conception to delivery. Yet we acknowledge that sadly, common sense isn’t, in fact, that common. We believe enjoying a luxury item should not come at the cost of one’s ethics and morals. Our main goal in establishing Common Sense has always been to take out the guesswork for our community and to eradicate the saying, ‘This is why we can’t have nice things!’.
What are the brand’s main inspirations and values?
Our inspirations and values were the first steps in establishing Common Sense as a brand, as we see them as the guiding force for our creativity and purpose.
Culture – we want to experience the world and its quality people and things.
Luxury, without the guilt – sustainable luxury is not an oxymoron. It’s possible to have nice things without causing excess, damage, or waste.
Transparency – communicating externally with unwavering candor, honesty and respect.
Inspired living – we do what we love and are connecting to something greater than ourselves.
Sophistication and aesthetic – an appreciation of our customers’ sophistication celebrated through the brand’s quality and unique sentient experience.
Passion – committed in heart and mind.
Eco-conscious and cruelty-free – owning our responsibility to care for this planet by using only sustainable practices and materials.
How do you define “sustainable luxury” and what does it mean to your brand?
We are often told that you have to choose between living beautifully and living ethically; that luxury and sustainability are at odds with one another, but we believe they’re a perfect pair. They share core values such as: emphasis on the origin of materials; the quality of the production process; the originality, simplicity and restraint of design; and the precision with which products are distributed and marketed. In short, both require immense consideration in every aspect of the product, and both prize anomaly, innovation, and artistry, as do we.
What role can the ritual of lighting a candle play in someone’s life, especially in one’s pace of life?
Having grown up with a sister working in the beauty and cosmetics industry, fragrance has always been more than aesthetics for me. It’s a mood lifter, a trip down memory lane and at times even an identity to step into. Of all our senses, the magic of ‘smell’ has always fascinated me the most; lose your sense of smell, and goodbye to enjoying the taste of that pungent blue stilton or freshly baked cinnamon roll! Candles help ignite these moments of bliss. By creating a ritual, we signal to the mind that this is my time, my space, my vibe. Whether lighting an invigorating candle during your morning yoga practice, or a calming candle at the end of a busy day, you can own and customize your experience and awaken the senses wherever you are. Beyond a simple addition to appreciate, it is valuable for our wellbeing.
What’s your best customer story?
Hearing from one of our first-time customers that the candle scent she ordered was reminiscent of her Italian grandma’s home. She told us that she hadn’t been able to visit her grandmother before her passing last summer due to Covid restrictions, and of course, missed her and the time they spent together, greatly.
The scent had been a great comfort to her.
What can we expect from the brand in the future?
Our processes are consistently being revaluated to ensure we’re implementing the most effective procedures to minimize our footprint. We are currently in the post-development stage of launching a refill candle program, and we are looking forward to rolling out the service to our community in the New Year. There’s also plans to work with local artisans of different disciplines to repurpose offcuts into one-of-a-kind, limited release vessels for our candles.