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Galápagos Soy Candle: A collaboration with East Wick

Across the parched lowland of the Galápagos archipelago, silvery lichen-clad branches shimmer against the dark volcanic terrain. The palo santo tree is a familiar sight throughout the arid zone where it grows in abundance, forming sparse leafless forests.

We feel humbled this year to have collaborated with fellow east London based east London based independent brand and online concept store: East Wick. Our exclusive Galápagos Soy Candle has perhaps been our most rewarding venture to date. With all our collaborations, we make sure that what's being made, has meaning. Whether if there's a story behind, or if it's unique in holding special significance in the study of natural history – the project needs to be intellectually enriching in some way.

So, when the idea of a soy candle for our store came, we knew what we needed to avoid. We tend to go down an exotic direction with our product lines, so a jungle or tropical scent was on mind at first. Then the idea for a Galapagos scent came, which stemmed from our exclusive screen print with Alice Pattullo, in which we wanted to focus on an eminent naturalist (Darwin being a natural first choice). The backdrop of the print is the Galápagos, so the archipelago was in mind already. We were also concurrently preparing for exhibiting at Grow London, developing a few products for what would now be a Galápagos-inspired space, which is how the candle developed. East Wick were the first soy candle-makers that sprang to mind, being early enthusiasts of each other's businesses – so we got in contact to make some magic  both so happy to keep this collaboration in east London.


We say this has been the most enriching product to develop, as being voracious readers (and being unable to actually travel to Galápagos, Ecuador!), we immersed ourselves in non-fiction books; the most memorable being The Galápagos by Henry Nicholls and Darwin's Island by Steve Jones. The traveller's guide: Wildlife of the Galápagos by Julian Fitter, Daniel Fitter, David Hosking also proved to be invaluable with learning about different plantlife, helping us hone in on the scent.

Very early on we almost settled on what we later discovered was an invasive species. With all of plantlife and wildlife on the Galápagos islands arriving there pretty much by accident – it's these invasive species, such as the various fruit trees which grow there we needed to avoid, to preserve a true essence of the archipelago. And what also struck us the most was how un-tropical the Galápagos is. The palo santo trees are a prominent feature of the arid volcanic lowlands, hard to avoid in our books – it's often described with having a strong pine-smelling sap, the wood: potent.

The palo santo trees form sparse forests across the inhospitable lowlands, height varying, reaching a maximum of 12 metres. They're easily identifiable by its silvery grey bark, the trees leafless for most of the year, with leaves arriving with the raining season: El Niño. When buds on the end of sprays emerge, small pale-cream flowers blooming, turning orange as they die; small cherry-like citrus fruit growing – Darwin's finches feasting on them, with land iguana's eating them from the bare ground also. The link with Darwin's finches seemed apt, so we settled on a scent inspired by the palo santo tree – a smoky smell coming to forefront. 

There is no avoiding certain connotations of palo santo. The tree is also known as a 'mystical tree' that grows on the coast of South America and is related to Frankincense, Myrrh and Copal.  In Spanish, the name literally translates into 'holy wood', and has an ancient history, traditionally being used for folk medicine and herbal remedies: ‘ethno-botany’. Or its smoke being used to repel ‘evil spirits’ – its use reportedly dating back to the Inca era. Palo santo is common today as a type of incense for its reputed 'spiritual purifying' properties. The tree is chopped, and like incense, the shavings of the palo santo are then lit. It creates a pleasant, fresh smoke that keeps mosquitoes away  one of its prime uses for the people who live in Ecuador and Peru. 

Like how palo santo has been traditionally used, as alternative medicine, ranging from common mysterious maladies, to 'cleansing' and 'healing' – we more or less have similar intentions by creating a calming aura, to alleviate the stresses of a busy life. We wish to transport you to the archipelago, to the land which changed the Victorian naturalist’s preconceived ideas of life on earth; with our Galápagos soy candle we've recreated the fresh aromatic smoke when palo santo is burnt: a blend of sandalwood, lemon and orange blossom, with hints of mint and pine.

Our exclusive Galápagos Soy Candle is available to buy from Eastern Biological.

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