A newcomer to Byres Road as of last year, the history of Shearer Candles dates back almost 120 years. During this time, the use of candles has changed dramatically. Once a necessity to light up homes, these days, candles are often more used as home fragrance and to create ambiance.
For Shearer Candles, the change from utility to lifestyle candles came about as the Barnet family took over the company. Now in their third generation, the Barnets are passionate about what they do and have perfected the art of candle making. The journey from idea to candle takes up to six months, and during this time, the candles are tested again and again to ensure that they live up to the high standard that the company is known for.
I visited Shearer Candle's factory in Govan to learn about candle making. While the process has been streamlined to meet the demands, the production is built on traditional techniques that were invented centuries ago. How candles are made depends on the type; for example, extrusion is often used to make traditional church candles, whereas filling is used for candles that are contained within a metal or glass jar.
It’s fascinating to watch the making of a candle. Starting with the wick, it is vital that this is kept in the middle, or the candle will burn unevenly. In the large tubs where the wax is melted, production is scheduled according to colour and fragrance. Starting off with the whites, the candles gradually get darker, finishing with Amber Noir, Shearer’s bestselling black scented candle. At this stage, the equipment has to undergo a full deep clean before the lighter colours can be repeated.
Shearer Candles’ first high street shop opened in 2014, and Byres Road followed the year after. For the Barnets, some of whom live in the West End themselves, the shop on Byres Road was a good fit, and it has had a warm reception in the area. While candles are seasonal, Shearer Candles find that customers buy them for all types of occasions, including Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day and as teachers’ presents. The more recent Highland collection was inspired by the company’s Scottish heritage, and has been a particular success with international visitors.
Shearer Candles’ international presence has only increased over the years, exporting to Scandinavia, Japan and the US, only to mention a few. In January, their Korean distributor launched a Shearer Candles store in Seoul, marking a new chapter in their lives. It’s been a long and exciting journey for the Glaswegian candle makers.
Shearer Candles is the final entry in our series 'The butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker'. Their shop on 388 Byres Road is open seven days a week.