Earl of East

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‘Fragrance is for everyone to enjoy, not just the privileged few.’


This comment, from Paul Firmin, co-founder (with business partner Niko Dafkos) of boutique candlemakers Earl of East, could pretty much serve as a mission statement for the brand. Born from a desire to create more ‘thoughtful’ scents for the home, the pair have remained laser-focused in their quest to ‘democratise’ fragrance and bring meaningful scent experiences to as wide an audience as possible.


What started in 2015 as an enthusiastic side-hustle selling hand-poured soy candles from a stall in east London’s Netil market, has grown exponentially. In just over five years, Earl of East has two standalone London stores – including their Coal Drops Yard flagship – and is stocked in over 230 outlets worldwide.


Over the course of that, Earl of East has evolved its offering from the core range of eight candles it built its name on (it now offers everything from fashion and soft furnishings to its own-brand range of chocolates in-store and online). However, the same independent spirit and passionate commitment that first drove the brand remains solidly intact.


To this day, every Earl of East fragrance comes with its own ‘scent story’, revealing the inspiration and evocation behind the fragrance blend. Part of the fun (and by extension the brand’s success, surely) lies in learning about these as part of the journey to finding the right fit – for you, for your home; even your mood – on any given day.


For many brands, that might have been enough ‘thought’ right there. Not this pair. Their dreams of a fully realised fragrance democracy require a complete demystification of the heady world of bespoke scent. As Firmin puts it: ‘We aim to break down the idea that being able to talk about scent is just for the experts. We all have noses after all.’

earl of east coal drops yard
earl of east coal drops yard
earl of east coal drops yard

The regular candle-making workshops the team set up at Earl of East’s Coal Drops Yard store are just one way to do that. Another is the brand’s first book.


The Scented Candle Workshop,  gives anyone the opportunity to create their own bespoke scented candles at home (and what better time to do that than now?). ‘There is no magic formula to the perfect scent, as that is in the mind of each creator,’ says Firmin of their approach. ‘We identify what they’d like to achieve – to create a relaxing mood, to evoke a particular season and so on, and this then helps guide them through the various type of fragrance they might want to include.’


Whether you DIY or simply fill your home with the heady scents of Earl of East’s own range of perfectly-formed scents (not just candles, but room sprays, essential oils, hand and bodywash, and more), as Firmin says, ‘the way [fragrance] can change our mood is incredible. We want to uplift, to energise and to make people feel at ease.’


Which is exactly what these stay-at-home days need.


Find out more at earlofeast.com


This is an edited version of an article that first appeared in the Autumn 2020 edition of King’s Cross Quarterly magazine. Words Tom Kihl.

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