My name is Clare Neilson. I'm a mother of two, makeup enthusiast, and professional candle maker.
I started making candles in 2015 when I went to a candle making class, just for something to do. I enjoyed playing with scents and it tapped into my love of design. I had always scented my home with candles and diffusers, so I already had a good starting base for what made a good candle - in theory, anyway!
My first big venture into candle making was when I made 30 of them, in 3 scents, for my baby shower in 2016. I found cute llama stickers and made candles out of science beakers. I knew nothing about jar types, wick sizes or wax types and I certainly didn't have insurance. In retrospect I was lucky they turned out.
When I had my daughter in 2020, she was such a easy baby that combined with the lockdown, I found I had a lot of time on my hands. I was after a creative pursuit and so started making candles - this time, seriously.
I spent six months testing different scents, jar types, wick types and wax types and launched my range of Australian botanical candles in October. In February the following year, after some feedback, I began the process of rebranding Clare Makes with a more fresh, modern design aesthetic and re-launched the brand in August 2021.
I didn't grow up in Australia.
I was born in Indonesia, to a Kiwi dad and Indonesian mum. We moved to Australia when I was two, back to Indonesia when I was nine, and I moved back alone when I was sixteen to finish my HSC.
My grandmother, however, was a landscape painter in her retirement and when I lived with her on the weekends while at boarding school, I would spend hours looking at her work which she'd stash all around her Balmain home. She painted gum trees, bush landscapes, as well as native flora and fauna. I hadn't spent my formative years going on holidays to the country, so it was completely new to me. My grandmother's love for Australia has made it's way into Clare Makes in a real and meaningful way.
I was a beauty blogger in a former life.
I had a relatively successful beauty blog (before Youtube got really big!) from 2008 to 2013 but I quit because I was getting inundated with free products. I know how privileged that sounds, but I was also starting to care too much about my relationships with PR companies and as time went on, I found it harder to be completely objective. I then relaunched my beauty blog as PR-free and worked on it when and if I felt like it. Being a beauty blogger was fun but as a result, I understand the power of a review.
I flirted briefly with the idea of drone photography.
I would regularly fly my drone in the early mornings from about 2017-2019. This really informed my current candle branding and love for the Australian landscape, as seeing it from the air has given me a completely new perspective that I wouldn't have had otherwise.
Understanding basic photo editing principles has also saved me a lot of time when photographing my own products, as well as when I've paid to have them done by professionals.
I've been everywhere, man.
Points to you if you can sing along to that song, but it's true. I've lived in a lot of places all across Australia, Indonesia, the UK and more. In high school I had an American accent, my husband is Chinese, my ancestors are Norwegian, and my kids are little, fun mixes of everything. I speak two languages, sprinklings of three to four more, I can do four accents of English convincingly enough to pass as a local, and I speak two regional dialects of Indonesian. I miss travel and can't wait to get back to it once the borders open up.
My vision for Clare Makes.
My vision for Clare Makes is that it grows into a thriving, female-led Australian small business, helping people use natural fragrances to scent their home and enrich their lives.
I love seeing my products in people's homes and being able to share some of Australia's beauty in candle form.