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The Interview: The Co-founders of Discothèque on infusing their candles with a dash of disco

Chloe Burney
01 August 2023

Jessie Willner and Hanover Booth co-founded the candle and fragrance company Discothèque with the aim to bring a piece of the legendary parties of the 70s and 80s to its customer's homes through an olfactory experience.

With the idea that "the feeling is in the fragrance", the pair set out to design candles that evoke the feeling on the dancefloor, packaged in colours as vibrant as the disco scene that inspired them. The success of the luxury fragrance brand, despite being online-only, is a testament to both the concept and the product.

Willer and Booth tell about their avant-garde concept to market candles as a relic from the past and hint at the brand's soon-to-come move from direct-to-consumer e-commerce to physical retail.

What inspired you to create the brand, did you notice a gap in the market?

What inspired Discothèque was our shared love for the energy on a dancefloor, and the desire to bring that experience home. Many brands have honoured a time and place through scent that meant something to them, but we felt like there was something different about paying homage to places that were burned into the collective memory of an entire generation, and even meant something to the generations that followed. These clubs held weight because it was where so much culture was incepted or changed, and they stood as landmarks of such—new music, new fashion, new ideas. Anything went. So that’s why Discothèque was born.

How did the disco era inform Discothèque?

The entire concept was based on recreating the perfect party, the most electric of dance floors, the colours that play beneath your eyelids while you’re dancing to your favourite song. To narrow this down, we interviewed loads of friends and asked them for their greatest club stories, curating a collection of the most unforgettable, profound and bizarre. Finally, we narrowed it down to the nine clubs we knew we wanted to start with.

You launched very recently, what has business been like since your curated candles hit the market?

We were in the creative and development phase of the brand for so long, endlessly going back and forth, that when it finally went out into the world it felt like we could take a breath and enjoy it for a moment! But it’s been a whirlwind ever since. The response we’ve loved the most is hearing people’s personal memories of these clubs… brilliant and completely insane. We’ve had the normal growing pains that go along with a direct-to-consumer business growing quickly—but now we feel pretty settled and able to predict where it’s all going. Our retailer footprint is also expanding quite a lot this year, soon enough anyone looking for a physical place to smell the candles will have one!

Your candles are designed to give customers a piece of the legendary discos that took place during the 70s and 80s, how does each scent evoke that?

When we set out to capture these clubs, we knew there would be some creative liberties taken because we didn’t want them to actually smell like the clubs. So to bring the candles to life, we took real memories and accounts of each club and then connected them to scent notes, almost like word association, creating a world made up of fragrance combinations we associated with these stories. We wanted to base our fragrances on how you felt inside those doors.

While developing each fragrance, we considered the feelings and emotions associated with that club and how we saw it all come together in scent, which resulted in some unusual and beautiful note combinations. Then we did many rounds of iterations and refining to get it to make perfect sense and come together.

What are your best-selling fragrances?

Crisco Disco, Milk!, Paradise Garage and Le Baron de Paris, Tokyo.

Discothèque is designed, formulated, and crafted between Los Angeles and London, how exactly is this done?

Both of us were born and raised in LA and we currently split our time between there and London. A lot of the design process happens in LA, but the entirety of the production takes place in the UK, with an emphasis on sustainability and ethical sourcing.

You cleverly joke on your website, “Quality control is like our bouncer”, nodding to the disco theme. Can you tell us about your wax formula and the ingredients that make your products stand out in the over-saturated market?

One reason that everything is made locally in the UK is so that we can ensure every step of our production process is held to the highest standard of quality possible. Our goal with each fragrance was to bring together timeless and unusual notes, just like all the moments of a perfect night out that you could never recreate.

We use a carefully crafted blend of high-grade, fully-traceable vegan wax that ensures a clean and even burn. Our signature glasses that house each candle are pigmented and heat-set by hand in individual colour layers, creating a piece of art that lives on after it burns.

Are you looking to expand into third-party retailers?

Since launch, we’ve partnered with some of our favourite stores in London and across Europe, but we mostly wanted to focus on direct-to-consumer for our first year, since we built our website to be such an immersive experience. We also wanted to develop a rapport with our customers directly, even more so in the beginning, hearing every bit of feedback along the way. But now that the brand has grown rapidly in sales and production, that’s definitely following suit in our retailers. Stay tuned!

What does the future of Discothèque look like? Are there any exciting launches in the works that you can tell us about?

There are so many more stories to tell about unforgettable places, so many more scents to create, and so many more ways to experience them, including fine fragrances, collaborations, home, bath and body. Our goal is to make the full-sensory experience include as many of your senses as possible. The sky’s the limit… we want the Discothèque dancefloor to span the whole world.

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