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Discovering Essence + Alchemy

When we first came across Essence + Alchemy it was love at first sight! Not only is this brand aesthetically beautiful, but it also supports true artisanal hand craft techniques; making each item sustainably, ethically and all with a planet friendly approach. We knew it was the perfect match for East and our passion for a more sustainable future.

Combining the traditions of aromatherapy with ancient alchemy, this beautiful brand focuses on natural ingredients and minimal design aesthetics. Each and every item is made by hand (in the UK) with slow and considered processes, natural, sustainable + eco-friendly botanical goods. 

Essence + Alchemy Founder Lesley A Bramwell started out as an Environmental Scientist and after experimenting for many years with botanicals and essential oils for their therapeutic properties, she decided this was her true passion and it was time to launch a new venture. Lesley started creating natural rapeseed wax candles in her kitchen and in 2015 formulated the idea for Essence + Alchemy, bringing together the natural scent and energy of plants (essence) + Lesley’s scientific and environmental background (alchemy). Taking a scientific approach that’s balanced with nature, Lesley designs, handcrafts and packages each Essence + Alchemy product from a small garden laboratory in Sheffield.

For us, one of our favourite products of E+A are the candle refills - Rather than buying a new candle each time, you can simply purchase a candle refill and reuse your glass beaker; Saving you money, and saving unnecessary waste; refill candles are the perfect candle for the eco-conscious.

Essence + Alchemy Candle

To gain a better understanding behind the brand and the wonderful woman behind it, we caught up with Lesley Bramwell, the founder of E+A, to ask where her love of aromatherapy comes from, her own wellness rituals and the importance of sustainability in her brand...

Tell us about E+A…

I started Essence + Alchemy in 2014, creating a range of botanical scented goods that are grounded in sustainability, nature and honesty.  Using natural scents to evoke emotions and memories, the range is designed to support natural well-being.  Using the influence of the natural elements of fire, air, water and earth, each product combines ancient alchemy, traditional aromatherapy techniques with minimal and conscious design.

What lead you to set up E+A?

A house renovation of all things!  I used making candles as a project to distract from the renovation. Making candles on a really old cooker, surrounded by dust and rubble with no heating, desperately trying to keep the temperature right for the candles – it became a bit of an obsession really.  It started from needing a bit of self-care, using the candle-making process as a ritual for calm.  My hobby gave me the freedom to experiment with nature, then it naturally progressed into E+A. 

Essence + Alchemy Sol Bath SaltsWhere did your love of aromatherapy come from?

I’ve always used essential oils.  For as long as I can remember my mother used them and actually bought me my first set.

She gave me small vials of rose oil and jasmine oil: that’s where it all started.

From a young age, I bought books, made potions, made gifts for people. I loved to experiment with the oils, my mother always had them around the house and would tell me what they were good for.  She would send me care packages at university, filled with oils that would help me: basil oil for memory to aid studying, sage oil for female health.  I took an aromatherapy class as a side hobby while working in environmental science and realised how much science is involved, creating balance through the oil’s natural properties.

Aromatherapy has been a constant ritual throughout my life.

 Essence + Alchemy Reed Diffuser

Nature is fundamental to E+A

Nature is totally integral to everything I do; every scent comes from the plant’s true essence. I use all-natural ingredients, from the rapeseed wax to the wooden wick, natural materials are completely ingrained in the brand.

I’m trying to limit the environmental impact E+A has too, my making process is entwined in nature and sustainability. 

My background is in environmental science, so I’ve always had a real passion for nature and the conserving the environment.  I’m really fortunate that the studio I work from is in my garden in Sheffield. I’m surrounded by nature, so it’s no wonder it’s my constant inspiration.  

What gravitates you towards a scent?

My scents are all very personal to me, they can be inspired by a memory or a feeling.  Aromatherapy teaches you to always use oils you like.  Seasonal scents start with a feeling: I looked at each season and what each season means for me.  For Autumna (the autumn inspired scent) I imagined the fruits of autumn, the rich colours, scents of wood, fire cracking etc. 

Essence + Alchemy Autumna Candle

I want each candle to capture the imagination of its owner.

Rose was one of the first E+A blends and one of my favourites, probably due to my garden bursting with growing roses and my love of the smell.  I didn’t want it to conjure up the synthetic fragrance you find in rose perfumes, so it took a while to experiment mixing with other oils to make more of a natural rose scent. It is all about the blending and the balance to create the perfect botanical scent.

My main focus is to source local materials

Though it’s not possible to source all the essential the oils in the UK, it was really important to me to locally source the main ingredient for the candles, the rapeseed wax. The rapeseed is grown in the UK and its wax is manufactured in UK.  It is the most locally sourced wax other than beeswax (and completely plant based).

I took this same approach when I moved into other areas like the bathing salts.  I didn’t want to source Himalayan or Dead Sea salt as it is so far away.  I found incredible salt from the Isle of Scilly that has all the amazing properties as the other salts but is much more local.

Developing the glass was really important too.  Most of the time glass candles end up in the recycling or people have lots of the leftover glasses so I wanted to create something beautiful that people would want to keep.  It took me a while to source the perfect hand-blown glass, but I found a studio in the Midlands who have been working with me since 2016.  The physical refill candles are also really popular, eliminating the need to buy new each time.

Essence + Alchemy Refills

E+A is all about creating less, in small batches, it’s a slow and considered process.

E+A packaging is fully recyclable, using FTC certified cardboard, labels and card with no plastic in sight.

Tell us about your wellness rituals…

Simplicity is key for me, I start the day with hot water, lemon and ginger.  I always light a candle every evening, using different scents depending on my mood. I think that’s why I don’t have a specific favourite; it changes depending on my needs.

Most importantly I make sure I get outside, which isn’t hard as the studio is in the garden.

I never feel like I’m not in nature.

Shop the selection of E+A scented products in our homeware section here

***All images are a curated selection from E+A Instagram or website.

To find out more about Lesley work and E+A, please visit:

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