THE ARTISAN FOUNDER

001. Great House Farm Stores

THE ARTISAN FOUNDER
A story of creativity and connection, from the hills of South Wales.

When sisters Abbie Price and Roanna Day formed a family bubble during lockdown, it was the start of a wonderful new chapter and the beginning of their Great House Farm Stores adventure.

One afternoon, while Abbie was pouring a batch of candles on commission for her friend, Roanna walked in and was amazed by the scent and quality of the candles.

Roanna wasted no time in digging out her favourite empty jars demanding Abbie made her some candles too. Before long they were inspired, why not create refillable candles?

The next day they set to work discovering how to make the best scented candles and candle refills. Take a moment to read their heart-warming story.

The Beginnings.

This all happened during an incredibly tough season of life for us, right at the height of our Dad’s cancer fight. Inspired by our recent move from city to country and driven by a desperate need to hold onto hope and joy during dark days, we started to live more seasonally, discovering nature’s restorative impact.

These seasonal rhythms become a lifeline for us both and we decided to make our candles more than just lovely, scented candles. We made them into fragrant prescriptions, antidotes to counteract the stresses and strains of this world.

And so, the Great House Farm Stores collection of Original Scent Recipes was founded and is now an extensive range of transformative scents.

Creativity and connection are life-giving.

A small mighty team.

For the time we, sisters and co-founders Abbie Price and Roanna Day, are the small but mighty team behind GHFS.

But, it really is a family business with our mum, who has a very discerning nose, weighing in on the scent recipes and Roanna’s accountant husband helping with the bookkeeping.

And, all of the beautiful refillable candle pots are handmade by artisan potters across the UK, who we consider part of the GHFS family.

Life in the country.

We work here on our little Welsh farm, nestled in the hills with views over the mountains. It really is as beautiful as it sounds. The views are incredible, you can see over to the Brecons or to the city lights of Bristol on a clear night. You can also see the weather rolling in from a distance which never fails to be breath-taking. Moments of calm and breath-taking beauty are, happily, frequent here.

Small things like a pause beside one of the windows while sipping a coffee, or a potter up and down our drive prompts wonder and awe. It’s just so beautiful. We are blessed to live here and, without any exaggeration, living here has changed who we are.

More often than not you’ll find us having on-the-fly catch ups in coffee corner, which is a tiny cafe area we built when we renovated the farmhouse.

Moving so far away from good coffee shops was a daunting prospect when we left London and Bristol so we installed our own. It’s here, clutching our coffees and spotting birds that we chew over our to-do lists.

Our Healing Scents.

Our Original Scent Recipes are inspired by our motto of ‘Life, in every season’.

We believe scent has the ability to connect you to more of what you need in any moment, essentially, to help you to discover life in every season and season of life.

Our thinking around scent led to us forming our ‘Home Scent Practice’ which is, essentially, the art of scenting your home so it transforms how you feel.

This approach led to us offering four different seasonal scents a year to connect you with the season at hand: a powerfully restorative thing to do.

We also have our Aromatherapy Range which, really, is like a series of fragrant prescriptions. What do you need more of right now: Healing? Calm? Rest? There are many more scents across our five ranges in total and each Original Scent Recipe is poured with a purpose.

We were able to create our Home Scent Practice thanks to our rich heritage in scent. Our mother is Anglo-Indian and has always placed a high value on the power of fragrance and flavour to enhance life. She has always had an innate way with scent, using aromatherapy principles to curate the scent of our childhood homes.

We were brought up with this practice rooted deep in us, using fragrance as a founding part of our self care and wellness rhythms. Mum still has final say on every one of our Original Scent Recipes. If it’s not good enough for her, it doesn’t go on the shelf!

As for our ceramic designs, these are a beautiful collaborative process between us and our wonderful artisan potters, all based in the UK.

We chose to work with ceramics because we wanted to create sustainable vessels for our customers to treasure forever. Not only do handcrafted pots encourage you to reuse your candle pot, they also support a heritage craft, something we’re both passionate about.

Living here has changed who we are. 

The Lessons.

Oh, there are so many! We had to change the wax we were using, right at peak sale time during Christmas, because we realised that the wax we were using when we launched, while lovely, didn’t burn perfectly in bigger vessels. So, as we rolled out some bigger pots to fit our Pillar Refills the wax wasn’t burning perfectly 100% of the time.

Cue a frantic scramble to test and find a new, perfect, plant -based wax. Seriously stressful!

Abbie, while a skilled chandler is also a bit of a clutz and has also smashed a couple of precious pots by accident. Disaster! But there are so many more highs than lows.

We spent nearly a year figuring out how to make and perfect our Pillar Refills. We knew they were possible, Pillar candles were a thing so why not make them powerfully scented and in a wax that would melt to fill the pots.

But goodness did it take trial and error, and tears and much determination to get them right. The moment when those first test Pillar burnt perfectly was unreal.

There was champagne that night!

Our Vision.

We exist to champion creativity and connection in all we do as a business. It’s why we work with independent artisan potters, not factories.

It’s why we hand pour all of our candles here on our farm, instead of buying them in. It’s why we hold friends and family events, here at the farm, and invite our lovely customers: they’re little therapeutic moments where we all indulge in a creative activity together.

We will always choose the road of no compromise when it comes to fostering and championing creativity in everything we make, and we will go out of our way to nurture connection.

Connection between our customers and the scent they need, between us and our customers and between us and seasonal rhythms. Creativity and connection: they are life-giving.

It should go without saying that one of the fruits of this is that we tread gently as a company, with plastic-free packaging, plant-based wax, organic cotton wicks and refills.

Our other defining value is our adherence to seasonal rhythms. We choose slowness, seasonality and living with intention over quick, mass production.

This is a hugely formative value and steers us away from the cold, large scale production of factories towards the warm, life-giving creativity of our independent potters and pouring our candles here on our farm.

Our Dreams.

At this point it seems a bit scary and wildly optimistic to share this, but we hope to grow enough to provide creative, stable, employment in South Wales.

Good jobs are few and far between across South Wales anyway and creative jobs even more rare. We were born in Cardiff and now live in Monmouthshire and we know South Wales isn’t short of brilliant, creative, inspiring people.

We want to establish a place that energises and galvanises creativity through using heritage, often nearly-forgotten, crafts, to produce beautiful things.

We also hope to be a pioneeringly flexible employer. We built this company while Roanna learned how to farm and had two children all at the same time. We’d love to make it possible for people juggling endless things to engage in flexible, meaningful work that fills their cup, without draining them.

IMAGES ©Great House Farm Stores 2024
THE ARTISAN FOUNDER

We invited Roanna & Abbie to share their story after learning of their pioneering efforts with the refillable candle and what a lovely first entry for The Artisan Founder Journal.

We can imagine the sisters with their coffees, planning their day. It’s an idyllic life for sure and we hope to visit the farm one day to experience their beautiful little corner of the world and sniff every, single, scent.

In the meantime, their website is a lovely place to start for surrounding ourselves in their healing scents and their handy quiz has matched us with the heavenly Hearth & Home scent.

– The Artisan Founder

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