Who doesn’t adore scented candles? Elementos is a new business, making aromatic, petroleum-free, container candles from natural products. Diane spoke to Dominic Conroy at his shop in Puerto del Carmen.
Hi Dominic, I met you when I was dropping off some items for a friend. I unexpectedly saw your wonderful display of scented candles, some in beautiful handmade, cast concrete pots. The scents were delicious. I was wowed.
Thank you, Diane. My wife Mandy and I created a display of our work during lockdown, it is located within our well-known shop, Revolution Bikes. It is easy to find, right next door to DER café and the Pharmacy, almost opposite LIDL.
Q: Then let’s find out more about you. Where are you from originally? What brought you to Lanzarote and how long have you lived here?
A: We were living in Maidenhead, Berkshire, UK, before deciding to move to Lanzarote. We relocated to set up a bicycle hire business. We were both working in corporate jobs before we moved to Lanzarote. We were keen on recreational cycling and spotted an opportunity for a change of pace & lifestyle when we took a holiday in Lanzarote. Four months later we were here and up-and-running. We’ve been living on the island for just over 10 years.
Q: How did you become interested in your cast concrete art and candles, it’s a huge leap from cycle hire?
A: The main catalyst was the Covid pandemic. We had (light-heartedly) discussed migrating our business to a candle shop as we got older, but the pandemic cut off our income so we decided to act immediately. As we had a big shop with a display area, in a popular area of Puerto del Carmen, a stone’s throw from Lidl, we thought we could invest a bit of money and a whole heap of time, to launch this new venture to run alongside our bike business.
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Q: I admire your resourcefulness to switch to another form of interest and income. Do you have formal qualifications? Or how did you become involved in your craft?
A: We have no formal crafting qualifications, but we’re both pretty handy, and we are practical people with an eye for the creative.
Q: Wonderful! I love creativity in all its formats. Have you always been interested in that subject? If not, how did you find out that you liked that medium?
A: As far as the candles are concerned, making them was something we had considered. We love candles ourselves and have long appreciated the positive effect that fragranced candles have on mood and their ability to evoke memory. Also, in keeping with our concern for the natural environment, particularly that of the Canary Islands, we wanted our candles to be handmade, and only contain sustainably sourced vegetable-based waxes that are fully biodegradable, vegan friendly & cruelty free. We wanted to offer a positive alternative to mass produced candles, the vast majority of which contain paraffin wax derived from petroleum.
The candle holders were a bit more of a learning journey. We explored several different media before settling on the idea of decorative cast concrete. It fitted so well with the overall philosophy for our work that we were developing. We concluded that concrete is perfect – a durable, practical and ultimately beautiful medium that’s a joy to work with. It’s also a great way to show how we’ve been inspired by the unique volcanic landscape of Lanzarote.
We think our candles & candle holders will appeal to tourists as souvenirs, but we also feel strongly that they will appeal to local residents and businesses like restaurants, hotels and villa owners who are as passionate about Lanzarote and its sustainable future, as we are.
Q: Sustainable is a buzz word. Not being harmful to the environment or depleting a natural resource is so topical. I applaud your thinking, in this Biosphere Reserve, I personally know many people who want to be part of that initiative. Well done for tapping into the ideas of ‘sustainability’ and of place, without having us all move to a teepee in Wales and wear colorful baggy trousers! Do you have any work exhibited or on sale on the island, or can we anyone can see work on a website, Instagram etc? Where can people contact you or buy your work?
A: We have a display area within our shop, Revolution Bikes. As I said, we are almost opposite Lidl, and it is next door to the pharmacy, so it’s easy to find us. There is an example of everything we sell on display. Elementos also has a website and we are linked to Facebook, Instagram & Twitter. Not so many followers yet, but we hope to grow it substantially over the next few months, drop by and give us a ‘like’. Purchases can be made at our shop, via Facebook/ Whatsapp 0034 635 879198 or online through our ‘How to buy’ page on our website. www.elementoslanzarote.com
Q: Are you working on anything in particular or any new projects at the moment?
A: We are always looking to develop our ideas and turn them into products – our work is based on continual evolution. As we get better acquainted with the possibilities of cast concrete, we’re becoming more ambitious. Lots of research and development is going on in the background.
Q: I look forward to seeing what else gets added to your shop! How has the Spanish lockdown affected you and your business?
A: It’s had a huge negative effect. We count ourselves fairly fortunate given that many people are worse off than us. As this Pandemic has now stretched over a year, in Spain since this time last year, we are as desperate as anyone for tourists to return. This small island cannot survive without them. The loss of income is devastating. On the plus side, it has given us time and space to explore other ways to express ourselves creatively and hopefully we can continue to earn a living.
Q: I agree how desperate businesses and individuals are to have a return to our former tourist occupancy. Let us hope it is not far away. Can you tell us a bit more about the inspiration of your products and the people behind the scenes?
A: The island of Lanzarote is massively inspirational to us. Its striking landscape, the pace of life, its climate & outdoor, sporty lifestyle is what brought us here in the first place. The idea behind our bicycle business was to encourage tourists to get out and explore and really feel, the natural environment, with minimal impact on it. The idea behind our latest venture is not too far removed from this. We wanted to reflect Lanzarote’s natural beauty and its uniqueness, and for visitors to take away positive and enduring memories. We also wanted to ensure our work was as closely tied to Lanzarote as possible. Our idea was to offer a genuine alternative to factory, mass produced souvenirs, with thousands of carbon miles attached to them. Introducing our handmade, locally sourced, low impact and evocative items – sustainably produced and genuinely part of this wonderful island, that is our home. Every choice we make, whether it be fragrance, colour palette, shape, form, material or medium, it is our passion to be ‘of this place’ and ‘sustainable’. That is what guides out work.
Thank you for chatting about your lovely products. I applaud your working practices and wish you every success and happiness for the future. Tourism seemed to be the world’s largest and fastest-growing industry until the Covid Pandemic. We all know this continuous growth places stress on our biologically diverse habitats and cultures. Happily, businesses who promote sustainability are sensitive to these dangers and seek to protect them. So, there we have it, the good and the scented about candles. I will be buying my candles from Elementos from now on, or as gifts for friends – it’s the perfect ecofriendly idea for any occasion!! My whole house smells heavenly.