One of the things that makes me feel the most luxurious in my life is being able to pamper all 5 of my senses on a regular basis.
I have a very strong sense of smell and am particularly sensitive to unpleasant smells. I also feel immediately more calm and happy when I am in the presence of beautiful smells. We all know that candles are a great way to have exactly the smells you love permeating your space. However, I suffer from extreme allergies and long ago had to give up candles and incense which had always aggravated my eyes. Fortunately, the world has shifted, and I now have access to some of the most amazing - and fantastic smelling candles around - without reeking havoc on my eyes.
In 2015, I met a woman who was running a natural soy candle company in Connecticut. The entire concept was phenomenal to me, and when she explained the difference between soy candles and traditional candles and how it’s the phthalates that affect your allergies and leave the black stuff in the candles, I was ready to try! The results were amazing - I was able to light candles in every room of my house. I was a true convert to the soy candle world.
As with most things that you discover, I assumed what she was doing was fairly unique in the candle world. But, as I’ve switched my own purchasing and consuming to eco-friendly, values-based companies, I’ve discovered there’s a whole world of natural candles just waiting to be explored.
Which, of course, presents its own unique problem - they aren’t all amazing. Like with most things, you have to kiss a lot of frogs to find the true prince. Fortunately for me (and anyone who enters my house), I’ve found my prince!
AŌ Candles are some of the best smelling/ most luxurious candles I’ve found. They currently have 11 options for sale on their website, so you could literally infuse every room of your house with exactly the energy and scentual experience you are looking for. By the way, that’s their phrase - scentual experience - and I love it!
I chose the oakmoss & amber this go around because I am a big fan of grounded and earthy scents.
It did not disappoint! My immediate reaction was that the scent is strong enough that you can use the candle outside, and yet it isn’t overpowering. We even lit it in our tiny office and could still work with the door closed.
Because I was curious about how strong the scent was compared to some other natural candles I’ve used, I reached out to Greg - one of the owners and asked him about it. He was super nice and responsive and explained to me all the research they had done when creating their candle line. He told me he uses fragrance oil that is sourced from essential oils from the purest suppliers he can find. He also explained that he uses the maximum amount recommended in order to give that heavier long-lasting smell.
After reading his email about the research he put into launching his brand - components, manufacturing process, timing of the oils, etc., I knew that my instincts were right and this was a company I could stand behind 100%. And that’s not just because I am a research junkie and love anyone who puts that much effort into creating something they love, but because it was easy to read his passion and kindness in the way that he crafted the email.
Greg also told me the story of where the name came from. He talked about how candles are such an important part of the history of the world; many times providing the only light available and explained his process this way:
You can look historically, spiritually, and probably everywhere else but the past of our species would not be where we are today without light and fire. I wanted to simply recognize that through the name. So I began searching online and discovered Aō, the mythological God of light in the Maori culture. The simplicity in the name and the story really resounded with me in many ways. I then dug deeper and found out from my dear friend Maricarmen that in certain dialects of Spanish it means “to move forward.” As I turned 40 this year and have been in the retail business working for others for well over 20 years and grew up in the wholesale trade, I needed to move forward. So with those two pieces it just became what it was.
Amazing right? Simple. Luxurious. Rooted in tradition and mysticism. Good for the world.
As with many natural companies, the branding is simple as well. Simple branding lets the scent be the focus. I love that wherever the candles are in my house they are providing ambiance and not necessarily decor. And once the candle has burned out, you can wash and reuse the amazing little containers - they even come with lids!
I already know which candle I’m ordering next. The switch to natural laundry detergent has left us missing the fresh laundry smell of the laundry room and our clothes. I’m planning to order the lush linen scent and light it in the laundry room when we are washing clothes!
Please check out the AŌ website and order a candle from this amazing company today. If you are local to Florida, they have a handy event tracker so you can find out where they’ll be selling them in person. Candles make the most amazing holiday gifts, and I’m certain the white birch would help those of us in the Sunshine State feel a little more of the necessary winter energy.
Local to Northeast Florida? You can also pick up AO at the following locations: Good Eye House and Style (Avondale), Bobby K Boutique (Murray Hill), & Feather + Bloom (St Augustine).