“I actually pinch myself when I rock up to work on King Street,” says Vianney Hunter. “I still can’t believe this is my shop.” The move from backstreet St Peters studio to a schmick main-street store is taking its time to sink in for the owner of Hunter Candles. And with everything that’s happened since Broadsheet last spoke to the scent-maker two years ago, we’re not surprised.
The rustic wooden tables, antique stools and splashy floral displays have made their way over from the old studio, as has Hunter’s original wax melter, which caters to customers bringing in empty candles for refills – a “crazy popular” offering.
But it’s the space’s original floorboards that sealed the deal. “I think I saw a hundred places, but the floorboards were what won me over,” Hunter says. “They were really grounding, natural and earthy, and Hunter is all about natural materials.”
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When it comes to developing new scents, Hunter prefers to let it happen naturally, too. A recent collaboration with florist and ceramic workshop September Studio began when its owner Bryce Heyworth delivered a bunch of flowers Hunter had ordered to the studio.
“Bryce is super friendly and I’m super friendly, and we just got to talking,” she explains. “I’d been wanting to do a ceramic vessel for ages but hadn’t clicked with anyone quite the way I did with Bryce. And, obviously, I liked his style.”
The result is The Pebble, an homage to the handcrafted. It’s designed to smell like a pebble, with a lovely raw earthiness. “Then you’ve got this comforting, sexy tobacco with musky rose, and an almost pretty elegance with vanilla orchids, representing how handcrafted ceramics are a slow, beautiful process,” says Hunter. Each vessel is hand-pinched by Heyworth, so stock is particularly special and doesn’t stick around for long.
Hunter also recently started stocking her candles on The Iconic. Among the 18 scents available from the retail juggernaut is Hunter’s latest collection, Grounded, four fragrances inspired by Australia (and the fact we’d been “trapped here” for two years).
“I wanted to base the collection around the Australian landscape, and my memories [of] growing up here,” says Hunter. “And once I started thinking about it, I couldn’t help but feel … untrapped.”
One combines crushed basil, peppered ivy and green ash; another eucalyptus bark, grapefruit rind and olive leaf; while the third is honeyed greens, tree sap and corkwood.
But it’s her Saddle Leather scent that has amassed the fiercest of fans. “I’ve literally seen people get goosebumps and be drawn to tears,” says Hunter. The combination of mowed hay, saffron and leather has thrown people back to specific times and places, and for one customer, conjured up memories of their grandfather who worked the land. “We all know scent connects us to memories, but that one in particular is quite magical,” says Hunter.
As for what’s next, Hunter has been working hard on a new collection set to drop in October. All we’ll say for now is that aromas wafting from her new neighbours Bella Brutta and Cafe Paci may have been a source of inspiration for the scent-maker.
133 King Street, Newtown
Mon to Wed 10am–6pm
Sat & Sun 10am–4pm