Starting your own business is no easy feat, but Zahra Ayub made the big leap after years working as a stylist and embarked on a new venture.
The London-born 32-year-old isn’t a fan of titles and chooses to describe herself as a creative. But if you’re into specifics, Ayub’s latest endeavour is running 1986, the handcrafted coconut wax candles that double as furniture.
“I always loved candles and decorating homes and spaces.” She says. And the astrology enthusiast who heavily identifies with her goal-oriented Virgo sign figured out exactly how to pursue her two passions. Her first collection fuses them both, featuring a giant marble-crafted candle that can burn for 2280 hours (that’s 95 days), and can simultaneously be used as a stool or table. She calls it the “Titled:07”.
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The standout piece comes in regular-sized versions too, which are all made of marble as a way of encouraging their reuse. The candles are offered in three different scents. From the smell of rain falling on soil to flower gardens, and the smokiness of bonfires, nature was on Ayub’s mind when it came to developing the brand’s now-signature fragrances.
We caught up with the designer to chat about what it takes to start your own business, sustainability, and her favourite scents.
Why did you decide to get into the fragrance industry?
I don’t feel as connected to styling anymore. I don’t really remember making the decision to get into the candle business I just followed my soul and fell into it. My mum reminded me recently that I used to make them as a kid. Candles were such a big part of my life growing and I kind of forgot about that little detail. I’ve always burned candles at home, they’re an integral feature of today’s homes, and an instant remedy for stress. I haven’t left styling behind, I would still style something if I found it was the right the job for me creatively.
How did you get the idea to start this new venture?
I took a trip to West Texas and visited Donald Judd’s work and his foundation. I was just generally very inspired to create something truly unique. At the same time, I was decorating my new house and was in love with the use of marble in homes. The idea just sparked during that time.
Candles are typically their own element, rarely ever multi-purpose, which makes your idea of combining furniture and candles pretty ground-breaking. How did the concept come about?
I always felt bad throwing away my expensive candles when they finished, sometimes I’d hold on to them but it was like holding on to junk. I wanted to create something that you want to keep and is able to be used all around the house. They can be used for tea bags, as a vase, for your kitchen utensils, and very soon you will be able to buy refills.
Your candles are described as earth- friendly and are designed to be sustainable, why is this such an important aspect to your business?
There is no question about sustainability being key in today’s environment. It’s important for all of us to do our part for the planet, it does so much for us. I have a long way to go but I would love to learn and do more for it.
What does it take to build a successful business?
I think I’m off to a good start. My business is still very new, so I wouldn’t call it a successful business yet. But it’s important to stay very true to yourself to be successful, with so many brands out there, yours can only stand out if it is 100% unique to you. Then there’s of course hard work, writing things down, making a to-do list, dedication, setting goals & deadlines, and staying mentally and physically fit and focused.
Which of your scents is your favourite at the moment?
I definitely don’t have a favourite, they’re all completely different and really special to me. But I do love rain and “Marylebone”, it smells like rain– but it’s not my fave!