We love to work with local producers and James Briggs, founder of Oh, James... is based just down the road from Blackheath in New Cross. Born in California, James worked in fashion buying before starting his own home fragrance company here in South East London. We thought we'd ask him a bit more about the unique scents that make Oh, James... such an exciting brand.
So, James where did it all begin?
I grew up in California. It's quite a unique place in the world in that it has nearly every type of climate, terrain, and geography you can think of, all in one place. Whether it's the coast, the desert, the valleys, the mountains, or the forests...they all smell amazing and unique! So I think from an early age I was always intrigued and drawn to fragrances. Though I've always been interested in and appreciated fragrances, I never really created any of my own until about 3 years ago. I had gone into a shop to buy a candle for a friend's birthday. After looking at and smelling everything, I was left disappointed with the scents and definitely didn't want to spend £40+ in order to get a decent smelling candle! I knew I could make a candle that smelled nicer and that wouldn't cost a fortune...so I bought some supplies, wax, oil, etc, and I started to teach myself how to make candles. After a few months (and a lot of mistakes!) of making candles for myself, I started to give candles to friends to test out. After a lot of great feedback, I realised that I had to 'do' something...and that's how 'Oh, James...' started to come to life.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
Scent-wise, I tend to create candles with fragrances that I personally love...and not just your everyday 'lavender' or 'vanilla'. There's nothing wrong with those scents, I just aim to create something that you won't find everywhere else. I tend to like earthy, smoky, and green scents, which probably has a lot to do with my California roots.
I think that different seasons of the year also tend to influence what inspires me at any given point in time. Currently, I'm really obsessed with spicy fragrances.... specifically tangerine oil, ginger, and clove bud! I'm also working on a smoky fragrance too....which I'm always obsessed with, but haven't been able to perfect....but watch this space!
We know that environment and sustainability are important to you. How are those values reflected in your company?
I try to be as nature-friendly as possible with the ingredients that I use. Everything in my line is vegan-friendly. I use soy wax for all of my candles. My wicks are 100% cotton and don't contain any metal within the wicks. I use a variety of oils in my candles...some essential oils and some fine-fragrance oils. All of my containers and packaging are recyclable. 'Oh, James...' tries to be as environmentally-conscious as possible...I'm not perfect, but I try my best.
The people who buy Oh, James... are not always your average home fragrance customer (whoever that is!). The candles seem to have a really diverse fan-base. Is that something you have consciously tried to achieve?
A huge brand value for me is 'inclusivity'. 'Oh, James...' is a brand for everyone. Scent doesn't have a gender, a colour, a race, a sexual orientation, a national-background, etc, so I aim for everyone to enjoy 'Oh, James...' scents equally.
Thank you James. We're huge fans of Oh, James... ! Are you a library person or would you rather be strolling in the orchard? Buy Oh, James... candles in our Blackheath store or online.