Before we founded Earl of East London, Niko and I would spend every weekend doing the typical East London routine of trawling broadway market and independent shops, cafes and restaurants – always wanting to get more involved in that community. We’d also spent some time in LA and loved the indie stores there, and it didn’t feel like anyone was doing it in the same way here.
The initial idea was to create a lifestyle store, which we started as a market stall at Netil Market. We stocked everything from cacti to candles and curiosities, including mid-century ceramics. Soon after, we decided to launch our own line of candles.
It took six months of making candles at home, and a lot of trial and error, before we launched the line in July 2014. By that point, we’d gone from being a one-off market trader to a weekly trader, to opening a 10-foot-by-8-foot shipping container as a permanent shop. By September of that year we were working with Selfridges, and by the end of the year we had 25 stockists.
We now have 180 stockists, two stores (one in London Fields, one in Kings Cross) and create thousands of candles a month. We also run workshops, events and we're even writing a book. There’s a lot going on, so it’s funny to think that just four years ago it was an idea, and not even a fully formed one.
Looking back now, these are some of our biggest learnings so far, and the things that helped us most.