Bryony Ball moved from London back home to Suffolk during the pandemic and started a candle making business, Mahn House. Here, she describes how losing her mother shortly before the pandemic gave her a new perspective on life – and how her candles are inspired by her childhood home
I was born in Suffolk where I stayed until university, when I moved to London to study and work for most of my twenties. I worked in advertising and marketing until I moved back to Suffolk with my partner during the pandemic and took up candle making. I am based in Halesworth where my candle studio is located, but am moving to Nayland where my partner and I are renovating an old house.
I am Suffolk born and bred. Having spent most of my twenties in London I always knew I would find my way back to Suffolk. I think something about Suffolk’s wide skies and varied landscapes make it special to me. My favourite thing to do is to running with my Standard Poodle Billy on the heath in Dunwich and along to the sandy coastline.
I lived at Mahn House for most of my childhood. We lived there with my grandmother Mary who very soon became known as ‘Mahnie’ – a mixture between the two names! I see Mahn House as the keeper of all my nostalgic memories of growing up in Suffolk.
I lost my mother shortly before the pandemic started and it gave me a new perspective on life – that it’s too short to not be doing something you love. So, when the pandemic hit, I headed back to Suffolk and then took up candle making. The pandemic gave me a chance to re set and revaluate what I wanted from life. I feel lucky that I was able to be in the place that I love the most for the past two years.
I originally had the idea to do a candle course, while I was working in London, with a friend who buys and sells ceramics and art works from new artists. We talked about making candles and the next thing I knew I had booked onto a candle making course in Suffolk. Mahn House was subsequently born and I wanted it to reflect nostalgic memories of growing up in the Suffolk countryside. Each fragrance evokes a memory of Mahn House, from wood burning fires capturing the rich warmth of sandalwood and pine, to fragrant herbs grown in the potting shed, to memories of spices lovingly crushed in the kitchen for friends and family.
I use coconut and rapeseed wax and paraben free fragrance oil. It’s important to me that my candles are sustainable and made without cruelty to animals or the environment. I also use 100% recycled and hand-blown glass vessels to make my candles in, I love that each one is unique which shows the mark of the maker. They are all named after local Suffolk villages all that hold special memories from growing up in Suffolk.
I think now more than ever we all need to be conscious of being sustainable in whatever we do and be looking to preserve the environment around us. Although it is not always possible to be totally sustainable I try to use as little plastic as possible in my candle making. I have recently started foraging in Dunwich Forest for pinecones and acorns which I use to make scented wax decorations with my left-over wax.
My hopes and dreams are to continue selling my candles hopefully to farer flung places and make people happy with the power of nostalgia through smell!
Mahn House candles are available to buy online at www.mahnhouse.co.uk and at the following upcoming craft fairs in Suffolk: Grand Brocante, Riddlesworth Hall on June 12 and Bungay Antiques Fair on July 24.
Picture credits: J’Dee Allin