A range of canine-friendly candles made in Manchester aims to capture the essence of each breed

Great British Life: Alana Mustill with her range of candlesAlana Mustill with her range of candles (Image: Archant)

Last Christmas, Alana Mustill opened her gifts – socks decorated with dachshunds; cushions featuring a dachshund and a toy dachshund that nodded along to the strains of Jingle Bells – and wondered if other dog lovers were unwrapping similar hauls and feeling as she did at that moment.

‘It’s no secret among my friends and family that I adore my dachshund, Bow, and it’s lovely that they want to buy me things associated with her – I appreciate them all – but I couldn’t help wondering if there might be a more sophisticated option for those of us who love dogs and our interior décor. My home was filled with the light of gorgeous candles and it dawned on me that a doggy candle would be perfect,’ says Alana, 29, who founded Ancoats-based Good Girl candles in April this year.

Great British Life: Alana and Dachshund, BowAlana and Dachshund, Bow (Image: Alana Mustill)

‘I’m sometimes asked if my candles actually have a doggy smell. Lovely as that is after a wet countryside walk, I somehow don’t think it would be an aspirational scent to have in the home and it would probably confuse any dogs who lived there,’ smiles Alana, who named her business after Bow, who really is a very good girl… most of the time.

Instead, Alana’s candles aim to capture, in fragrance form, the essence of each breed.

‘There are seven Kennel Club families: Working, Gun, Hound, Utility, Terrier, Toy, Pastoral and withing each family, there are several breeds. Each breed has their own distinct character and it’s this character that I reflect in the fragrance of each candle,’ says Alana who admits she enjoyed the research phase so much, she had to eventually be very strict with herself and move on to actually making the candles.

‘What dog owner doesn’t love talking about dogs? Once we start it’s difficult to stop and I’m guilty too. The only difference for me was that I sought out owners of every breed, so I could build up a picture of what they were like. Of course, every dog is an individual with its own personality, but breeds do tend to share certain traits, for example German Shepherds are almost always fiercely loyal and Frenchies are usually playful. The research period was a dream for me, meeting masses of dogs and chatting about them,’ says Alana who still meets individual dogs if their owner wants a bespoke candle that reflects the precise individuality of their dog.

Great British Life: The candles come in sustainable packagingThe candles come in sustainable packaging (Image: Archant)

When Alana reluctantly finished her research, she found the process of making the candles was a learning curve and something that had to be mastered and which led to many hours spent burning the candle at both ends.

‘I suppose I may have made it more difficult than it needed to be but I wasn’t really prepared to compromise on any of my principles and I’m proud to say I haven’t had to,’ says Alana who was determined each hand poured soy candle would be vegan, paraben free and contains oils that won’t irritate sensitive dog noses. Each label gives detailed personality traits of the dog and everything is locally sourced with sustainability playing a huge role in the range.

‘All the candles are poured into glass jars, which can be re-used or even brought back to me to be re-filled, and they are presented in attractive re-usable linen bags. I take sustainability very seriously; I even tracked down sustainable packaging, made from completely recycled materials. It had to be sturdy too, as I have customers across the UK and no-one wants a broken candle arriving,’ says Alana who also sourced wicks which would be easy to light and which would burn for 40 hours.

Great British Life: Alana Mustill with one of the candles she creates in AncoatsAlana Mustill with one of the candles she creates in Ancoats (Image: Archant)

It is in the alchemy of fragrances though that the magic begins and, judging by customers’ reactions – both human and canine – it is something Alana has a talent for.

‘It takes a long time to get it exactly right and there is a lot of trial and error but I love it, especially when an idea such as adding rosemary to the pastoral breed mix is a success. It really does emulate the smell of fresh grass but in a gentle, more sophisticated manner that is suitable for drawing rooms,’ says Alana.

Alana is always open to requests and, as many owners of cross breeds wanted a candle for their dogs, she has recently launched her Cros

s Breed range which has proved to be an instant hit. Her next project is working on a candle for rescue dogs, which will probably contain hints of calming lavender and be coloured blue as a sign of hope, with profits being donated to Manchester Dogs’ Trust.

Thanks to Alana, it’s possible that this Christmas dog lovers will be opening something a little more sophisticated among the dog decorated socks. To find out more, go to goodgirlcandles.co.uk.

Artisan collaboration

Great British Life: A limited range of Gill Mason's Cocoanoa candles feature artwork by Holly ArnfieldA limited range of Gill Mason's Cocoanoa candles feature artwork by Holly Arnfield (Image: Gill Mason)

When Gill Mason’s teenage daughter had unexplained allergy symptoms, it prompted her to examine the products in the family home at Preesall.

‘I never realised before just how horrific the ingredients in candles can be,’ Gill says. ‘Paraffin, lead, colourants, perfumes... there’s a lot of nasty things in many of the candles you find in the shops, so I thought I’d have a go at making my own.

‘I wanted them to be as environmentally-friendly and ethical as they could be: I use rape seed wax from the UK instead of soy wax, to reduce the carbon footprint, the wicks are compostable and the glass is 100 per cent recycled.’

When her first batch sold quickly in a village shop just before the first lockdown, she invested in equipment so she could scale up the operation. She now makes pet-friendly hand-poured candles, melts and diffusers with more than 20 scents, and has seasonal ranges too – her Christmas range is available now.

‘In that time when people weren’t spending in shops, bars and pubs and were at home more, there was a move to have a little luxury in the home and to be more environmentally aware,’ adds Gill, whose background in marketing helped her spread the word about Cocoanoa candles.

Gill now works with Pilling-based artist Holly Arnfield whose paintings adorn some of the glass jars. Holly, who has a pop-up shop in Lancaster’s St Nic’s arcade until Christmas, says: ‘I bought a couple of the candles in a shop in Knott End and they were the best I’d had, and when Gill commissioned me to do portraits of her dogs, we started talking about doing some work together.’

Her artwork appears on a limited edition range of candles which are available in her Ink shop in Lancaster, as well as shops around Over Wyre and from coconoa.co.uk.