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Concrete & Wax: the Suffolk-based fashion couple who became artisan candle makers

Words By Alice Florence Orr

Seven Minute Read

Artisan reed diffusers in various scents, including Cherished Leather and Amber Noir

These candles have a secret ingredient: love

Concrete & Wax is a London-based artisan candle company with a unique story. Specialising in modular candles with sensual, unique scents, every piece is hand-poured in the UK by a husband and wife team — so it wouldn’t be a cliché to say every candle is made with love.

When Alex Sommer and Laura Keller first met in Germany in 2001, they had no idea they would end up being more than colleagues. As fashion industry professionals, they found themselves working for the same sportswear company, and it didn’t take long for the creative couple to become inseparable. To celebrate Valentines’ Day, we spoke to Alex and Laura about all things love, creativity and candlemaking.

Q: We’re so inspired by your love story. Where did you first meet?

A: It was actually the first night Laura moved to Germany to start her new job. We met in an Irish bar when England beat Germany 5-1 at football, so pretty memorable for more than one reason! As we were directly working together—and trying to remain professional—it wasn’t until around a month later that we had our first date and we’ve pretty much been inseparable ever since.

We moved to the Netherlands in 2002 and Alex proposed the same year. We married in 2003, started our design consultancy in 2004, moved to the UK in 2010, had our daughter in 2013 and began Concrete & Wax at the end of 2018. It’s been a whirlwind 20 years together, but we can both remember that first Irish bar encounter like it was yesterday.

The Tealight Trio in Teal
Photo via @concreteandwax

Q: How does your relationship influence your creativity and values within Concrete & Wax?

A: Alex is a true creative who understands business, while Laura has the business drive and a creative eye — a perfect combination when trying to bring a unique, yet commercial product to market. Nothing goes ahead unless we both feel equally passionate about it. We’ve always shared the same values in terms of our design aesthetic and sustainable approach.

Coming from an industry which, let’s face it, has not always had the most sustainable credentials, we knew from the outset that our product had to be not just beautiful, but also built to last forever — hence our concept that every concrete candle holder will fit any standard tealight as well as our candles.

Q: What’s the best thing about working with your partner?

A: We’re not going to lie, we haven’t always found it easy to work together — especially in the early days of our design consultancy when we were both vying to be the boss and have the final say. However, quickly we learnt that when we split the responsibilities that played to our strengths and each took ownership for certain aspects that we found a beautiful working relationship. There’s a reason that he is Mr Concrete and she is Mrs Wax – it just works better that way.

We’re kind of like our product — two very different entities with contrasting personalities and attributes, that when combined create something that just works. We do need to find a better work/life balance though. Designing and setting up a new brand is all-consuming!

Every concrete candle holder is hand poured to fit their bespoke candles

Q: Do any of your candle scents bring back memories together?

A: All of our fragrances have actually been developed purely because of the memories they evoke. Lime, Basil & Mandarin is Laura’s all-time favourite perfume fragrance. Tobacco & Oak is Alex to a tee. In the past, when we worked in the fashion industry we travelled to Florence twice a year to visit a trade show — our Cherished Leather fragrance captures our memories of walking through the market surrounded by the scent of leather goods mingling with the citrus aromas from the nearby fruit stalls.

If you’re also swooning for Concrete & Wax’s “love-infused” candles, don’t forget about their handmade concrete coasters. We think their candles are the ideal housewarming present, but they are also perfect for a self-care treat, too.

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