Ariana Whittingham interviews Leonine O'Brien, founder of Pretty Frank - for Ecocious
We personally think Leonie O'Brien is exceptional! Here's why...
Within the home Fragrance space she has been busy developing a specific formula and method that provides a consistent fragrance throw for the entire burn/use. This innovation is the solution for true candle lovers that are both picky with candle scent/ burn longevity but are additionally wanting to keep their eco-footprint small.
Since 2016, Leonie has been refining a timeless collection of as-green-as-it-gets candles & home fragrances. She is currently re-creating our most loved signature scents along with surprise seasonal scents, which drop at various times throughout the year.
Whilst these divine home fragrances are handmade in Sydney, the Pretty Frank team ensures operations using only what’s needed and choosing supplies which are sourced ethically, sustainably and without harm to animals, people or the environment - this ethos is embedded into the DNA of Pretty Frank.
Candles are shipped “naked” which means that they'll only come with a box if you request it. Your delivery is always shipped carbon neutral and plastic-free AND with every purchase from Pretty Frank, a native tree is planted in Australia.
All candles, room sprays and reed diffusers are entirely vegan. No palm. No paraffin. No artificial colours. No silicones. No parabens. No PEGs. From the wax, to the fragrance, the wicks - all cruelty free & vegan friendly.
Pro saving tip: Purchase a Pretty Frank Bundle via Ecocious with code: IAMAMAZING and save 20%
Ariana: Leonie, I'm so excited to share your story with our readers! I would love our readers to get a feel of how passionate you are about sustainability and your future goals for Pretty Frank.
Candles started as a curiosity thing for me. I started making them as a hobby and I’d burn them in the office and at home. Eventually friends, family and coworkers started asking about buying them and I figured it was time to make an online store!
The name Pretty Frank came from my very handsome rescue dog, Frank. I knew I wanted him incorporated into the business somehow but I also love that to “be frank” is to be honest, no bullcrap. I wanted candles that were a great product in simple and sleek packaging that didn’t rely on anything gimmicky to sell them. In essence, that’s what being frank is to me - what you see is what you get.
I loved the idea of planting a native tree with every purchase, so I started adding this in with every sale in mid-2019. It’s such a cool feeling to send off the funds for tree planting and know that this business, and my gorgeous customers, are helping to change our country and our world.
The business now has a mainstay collection of nine fragrances in three sizes, with the option to get them boxed or naked to reduce waste. I’ve also started to release at least one new limited edition fragrance each month. Room sprays and reed diffusers have launched now too, and I love having new ways to offer sustainable home fragrance in your home or office. I love having the variety in my range and keeping new things coming!
Ariana: What does "Sustainability" mean to you? Why are you so passionate about it?
This concept is really important to me, and I think most people really care about our world too. It seems cruel to be shopping for things that we know are going to deplete our resources and leave our world worse-off for the generations to come after us.
Building a business that strived to make every part of it more eco-friendly has been a more expensive route, but I know my customers appreciate it.
Ariana: Is there something you wish more consumers knew about your industry?
The “soy blend” concept absolutely baffles me! A candle with soy blend written on the label means that some portion of it is soy and the rest can be any other type of wax, and the type and percentage don’t need to be disclosed!
A candlemaker with soy blend candles gets all the good marketing messages from having “soy” in the name of their product, but it could be up to 99% paraffin wax or palm wax! I think most consumers wouldn’t buy them if they realised their candle had petrochemical wax in it or palm oil which has done so much damage in Indonesia and contributes to climate change.
I’ve always found the psychology behind marketing so interesting and finding new ways to reach customers or share my products is always a challenge, but sharing misleading messaging like the soy blend description strikes me as a bit unethical.
I write blog posts about common questions, topics or interesting concepts like the “soy blend” issue because I want to teach people about the industry, but if people don’t seek the information out then they’re living with a false sense of satisfaction about their purchase. As businesses, I believe we have a responsibility to be honest about our products and our industry.
Ariana: Do you think as a community we can make changes towards a more sustainable future? If yes, how?
Oh absolutely! There’s power in numbers.
That being said, I think the onus of major change is on large organisations who contribute to the vast majority of emissions, outputs and waste, which means that change will need to come via legislation which requires more transparency and a push toward more sustainable options.
Most small, privately owned businesses really want change for the better but making the greenest decision often doesn’t allow for profit at such a small scale or there are just no better options from suppliers.
Ariana: If one of our readers decided to start making some changes and wanted to start living more sustainably, what advice or tips could you give them?
We’re already in such an anxiety-inducing and stressful time so taking the weight of the world on your shoulders isn’t going to help anyone!
Change happens slowly, so don’t be afraid to make simple and small changes.
There’s no need to rush out and spend on new things to replace what you already have - the greenest option is the thing you already own.
When it does come time to shop, be mindful of where your money is going. Your dollar is your vote for the future, so try to put it towards businesses that have the same values as you.
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