Making scents of Bermuda
To Emma Wilson, Bermuda smells of sea salt and citrus.
She combined the scents in a candle she called Bermuda; fittingly, she released it on Bermuda Day.
“Being born and raised in Bermuda, creating a candle inspired by my home felt like a necessity to have in our line-up,” said the former Bermuda High School student who left the island for Canada in her early teens.
“I graduated in February from the University of Guelph in Ontario into a no-jobs-available market. I had nothing to do so I started looking into what businesses I could [run] from my house.”
Candle-making piqued her interest, especially after she bought a kit from Amazon and tried it out.
Stuck at home in Ontario, which has been under some form of lockdown or another since October due to the coronavirus pandemic, the 23-year-old spent a few months researching and practising; tips from YouTube helped. Finally she made the decision to start a fragrance business, Universally E.
“I have a degree in criminal justice and public policy and a minor in political science so this is completely left field,” Ms Wilson said.
“But I graduated from university not really knowing what I would do with my career. Almost everyone in my programme wanted to become a lawyer and I knew that wasn’t a goal for me. I thought maybe something in policy or government but obviously everything was completely halted because of Covid, so I just took my future into my own hands.”
Inspiration came from her parents. Until his retirement, her father Bob had run corporate banking at Butterfield Bank and Clarien Bank Limited. Meanwhile her mother Andrea started local e-commerce service provider First Atlantic Commerce.
“I think having both of them in the business sector and be successful in their business areas inspired me and made me want to work harder and be successful in my own business even though it’s completely opposite – making candles versus banking. Still, the entrepreneur in me stems from them.
“I graduated from university knowing deep down I didn’t want to do something that my degree taught me but I kind of always thought that to run a business you had to be really good at math and all that accounting and stuff. And I was never good at math. I was a very good English student; learning that I didn’t have to be amazing at math to run a business, that really changed my outlook on things.”
When it came to deciding which scents to go with, she followed her instinct.
“It took a lot of testing. I know a lot of candle makers take a premade scent and put it into a candle but I wanted to make mine unique so I started mixing together a bunch of different scents I’d buy from suppliers and I ended up coming up with the majority of my own fragrances.”
“I use 100 per cent soy wax, mine are unique fragrances; they’re locally sourced, paraben-free, non-toxic, better for the environment. I really wanted to make that a priority in my business. A lot of people buy candles from big name brands but don’t realise how bad those candles actually are – for you, for the air you breathe and for the environment.”
Bermuda, her most recent release, “is probably the most special one I’ve made so far”.
“I lived there until I was about 12 or 13 and I moved to Canada with my mom, just for my education. My dad stayed in Bermuda, until 2018 I believe, and then he moved to England. Especially when I was under 18, I would go back and forth to Bermuda every two months.
“I have so many friends there. Bermuda will for ever be my home so I really wanted to do something that represented it. I decided to go with sea salt and citrus which is a very beachy, summery, salty air scent. My mom calls it a walk on Warwick Long Bay.”
At the moment she runs Universally E out of her mom’s basement in Oakville however the plan is to move the operation to Toronto this summer.
Ms Wilson’s dream is to one day open her own shop. She plans to reach out to retailers here when she visits the island in October; seeing her products in stores in Canada is something else she is working towards.
“That would be the goal, for sure,” she said of a dedicated Universally E storefront. “Or even just to get it into bigger, brand name stores like Indigo or Nordstrom, that would be a big goal of mine.
“I hope that this will financially support me going forward. Right now I’m working on a body scrub to come out in the next few months. My plan is to expand the company so it’s more than just candles and wax melts I now sell. “
For more information: www.universallye.com; www.instagram.com/universally_e/; www.facebook.com/universallye