Come to the table: Maison Reyjeané x Okra
Finding herself with some time on her hands during lockdown and a bit of stillness outside of the context of normal everyday life, Reyjeané Haroun-Hashemi started developing an artisan candle idea.
“I found I could ‘still’ myself much more and when this happens the creativity pours out,” she says. This creativity she channelled into her passion for tablescaping, and with the shift back into spending more time entertaining at home, she found the need for candles presented itself more often.
“I wanted a candle that was elegant, didn’t block your view and added the right amount of glow to the tabletop,” she adds. And with this in mind, while wanting to counter all the heaviness of the last year, she thought a mood lightener was in order — a product that was irreverent. And thus, the Skinny Bitch was born.
To bring the idea to life, she teamed up with artisan candle studio Okra. Drawn to Michelle du Preez and Erik Rust of Okra for a shared appreciation for excellence, it was a natural collaboration. Each candle is handmade/dipped in Cape Town, a labour intensive process that Haroun-Hashemi loves for its return to the art of making things.
“The whole process from packaging to placing it on the table to lighting it should be an experience,” she says. Adding to the ritual are hand-honed marble bases that elevate it still further.
With colours inspired both by trends and intuition, Haroun-Hashemi started with classic colours (Nude, Salt, Ink, Onyx), and then added playful occasional and seasonal accents like the Neon range (exclusively available at Merchants on Long), and Valentines colours (Rosé & Scarlet). Then came Peach, Please! a shade in line with the progression of her interior design aesthetic.
In the pipeline is also a range of pastels and accessories (matches, long lighters, extinguishers and glass hurricanes), and an ultra-luxury hand-painted version.
‘The sky’s the limit but the core of this product line is to have fun and be playful. I’m over the seriousness of life and the obsession over everything being a commercial success. The real success is when a venture brings joy, fun and creativity into people’s lives,’ she adds.
A warm glow: Melle Studio
A full-time clinical psychologist who has always devoted one day a week to being creative, Sunelle Basson of Melle Studio also started making candles in lockdown.
“I was probably unconsciously seeking some light in the midst of the pandemic, but I also found the process of sculpting and the texture of wax soothing, as is the experience of lighting candles,” she explains.
After doing some research and experimentation, she started producing a range inspired by her appreciation for one-of-a-kind homeware objects, but it was only after gifting the first three pairs of candles to a close friend and receiving increasing requests that she felt brave enough to eventually launch Melle in October 2020.
“I like to keep myself open to all kinds of inspiration, but I'm drawn to interiors that have a contemporary twist on an antique theme,” she adds.
This balance between the contemporary and the romantic has resulted in a unique range that creates a sense of occasion — sophisticated but with a nostalgic edge.
“We mostly hope to continue to create pieces that are just as pleasing to the eye as to the heart,” she says.
All Melle candles are designed, individually poured, and hand finished in her Johannesburg studio and sold in pairs of the Spiral, Sphere or Taper design in a range of colours. They’re available online or at Botanicus in Hyde Park.