Author Archives: jleaphart

Fragrance and memory

10 December 2017

When I was a child I loved to play with matches. The illicit joy of creating my own light in darkness was liberating and strangely empowering.
But half the thrill was the smell – that acrid sulfurous sharp inhalation of independence and potential danger was the essence of happiness.
Childhood was all about  smells – soap, shampoo, frying, rain, mud, sweat and burning wood. Our garden at night – roses, jasmine and sweet williams. The way the earth smelled just before rain, the smell of wet ferns. Walking in the front door and the smell of supper cooking.

In the beginning of this journey my focus was on collections that were vessel driven and the scent was secondary but more time I spent with my customers seeing their reactions when they picked up a candle to smell, I noticed that many times it was an emotional reaction. And if they made a positive connection they would buy the candle. So the purchase became more than a material transaction – it had a human element. It was like I was giving them something to connect them to their past. In time I chose to approach fragrance as a way to trigger a memory.. and with it a way to connect with my customers. I often hear that our fragrances are unique and unlike other candle collections. They are created to impart a sense of happiness, the continuity of life with all its ups and downs. As we grow into adults many memories fade, but a fragrance memory will always remain sharply in focus.
Himalayan fragrances are not trend driven, and they transcend fashion and sentiment. Many are timeless and have their own small cult following – Campfire and its more intense partner, Woodsmoke recapture that nostalgic joy of a wood fire. Mountains and forest, sweet acrid smoke, amber resin and top notes of fresh cut wood. Woodsmoke always elicits a strong reaction – some describe it as the way your clothes smell after sitting by a fire. For me it is at the smell of childhood, the collective smell of hundreds of wood fires, burning precious wood gathered painstakingly in the day to cook the evening meal.

Ginger Patchouli, our best loved fragrance, with its serendipitous marriage of spicy ginger and warm earthy patchouli  is the hook that draws many customers into the collection. I find it heady, sexy, alluring as a perfume but also comforting and hospitable like a well cared for home, as if the molecules are teaching us connections between things we thought unrelated. Patchouli and musk are the grounding force for many of our fragrances. On their own they smell dull and flat, but added to a ginger, or a floral, or a vanilla compound they became something much greater. Like the final coat of varnish on a painting that creates a finished look with depth and saturation.

Fragrance can be a recreation of a past utopia and an expression of an ideal state. Sacred Temple Garden is a moment of luxury, a fancy hotel lobby with a signature fragrance. There is a hint of the exotic with notes of orange blossom and incense. A customer once said it reminded her of a bed and breakfast in New Orleans. Ancient Philosophy is the scent of late afternoon tea, and sunlight slanting in, casting its dust flecked paths of brightness.. of long empty afternoons stretching into night. Tobacco Bark is about wet leaves and the sweet woody drift of pipe smoke. Clove, rum and vanilla give it a comforting bed of well being. Prayer Flag with its smoky notes of olibanum, myrrh and patchouli captures a world of escape, adventure and far away places where temple bells chime. It invites the armchair traveler to dream and drift.
Florals in the fragrance world are a collective path to a lost innocence. In our culture they underpin the classical and romantic. Florals in their most pure transcend the shifting mores of taste but very rarely is a single floral note satisfying. It needs an amber, a sandalwood or an oakmoss base to give it depth. It is the floral top notes that trigger our remembrance, but the base notes make the scent complete. Dreamy intense tuberose in Honeysuckle and Moonlight frame the top notes of gardenia and late spring honeysuckle. Florals compounded with complexity and layering take us to a new place that does not exist in nature. Forgotten Violet is our most recent floral, its heady combination of bergamot, clove, lavender and violet leaf create a pervasive scent that is warm and inviting, base notes of cashmere give a rich and full bodied texture like sitting down to a meal that has been lovingly prepared with many complementary ingredients.  It is our most fragrant scent,  and most expensive to make.
The candle and home fragrance market has become crowded, and fragrances now are much better than 10 years ago.    We remain small and focused,  seeking to be not only a vehicle for fragrance, but to combine aesthetics and fragrance, to reach out and touch the recipient in some small authentic way.   It is not for everyone, but for those who do there is a connection.



17 September 2017

Lighting adds character and warmth to a room.. and Himalayan Candles are full of character..








New Dharamsala collections for Fall shipping

5 July 2017

A central theme of metal containers filled with our most intoxicating and heady scents tie together this growing collection. These pieces will not be added to our website for the retail trade until they are fully in stock this August. Our wholesale customers can preview at the upcoming gift show in Atlanta, LA, NY, Seattle and Denver or contact us for a Fall/ Winter 2017 supplement.

Process, production and the lifecycle of a product

4 September 2016

When you light your sweetly smelling honeysuckle Tea Time Tin candle, or your woody pipe tobacco spice tin candle you are probably not thinking about the long journey this little luxury has made to arrive into your home.    Your candle has brought together components from 5-6 different sources and has been touched by about a dozen different people in the production cycle.

Himalayan candles has many collections all with their own distinctive look inspired by a time and place, a memory, a recreation of home.     Together they will tell a story of fragrance, aesthetic beauty, functionality and reuse.  But there is also a hidden story of love, labor, struggle, learning from others, stumbling over mistakes and growing stronger.

That burning candle is a unique hybrid of creative conception, direct sourcing and  domestic manufacturing at a streamlined scale while still preserving artisan hand crafted touches.

A Himalayan candle starts out life as an idea, a finish or a look and that comes to life once  all the parts are established.   The manufacturing – how does one make an aged distressed tin or a vintage victorian glassware en masse?  It comes from working closely with the right factory to come up with materials and techniques that can be used to make our unique containers at a reasonable cost.   It will involve visits to the factory to work on the process.    Our success is rooted in the relationships built with our makers over the years.  The factories I work with like us and want us to succeed. They believe in our product as much as I  do.





Once the vessel is made, loaded onto a container and arrives on our shores, it is unloaded into the warehouse where it will await the short journey to our production area.  My production team is the true story of our product and the backbone of the business.  It is the paramount reason we are able to succeed in a crowded marketplace and hold our own.  Day after day and year after year they will transform empty vessels from the warehouse into the finished product through teamwork, discipline and attention to detail.  Each piece is quality checked, cleaned and prepared.  The wax and fragrance are poured by hand by the initial team of wax pourers,  from there the labels, ribbons and dustcover are meticulously stamped and applied by a crack team of packagers who have been chosen and whose skills have been honed to tie a bow just right, and to stamp a fragrance just so.   Each piece goes through a final quality check by the team supervisor before it is stored in the finished goods area where it will await eventual shipping.


PROD pouring



PROD stamping(1)



Tea Time Tins

22 April 2016


tea time tin group

Spring was moving in the air above and in the earth below and around him, penetrating even his dark and lowly little house with its spirit of divine discontent and longing.  

This quote taken from the classic childrens’s book ‘The Wind in the Willows’  describes how Mole, driven out of his underground fusty home, discovers a new life in the world above, and new friends like the River Rat, Badger and Toad who enrich his boring life with adventure, curiosity and an appreciation for the beauty of nature.  The Wind in the Willows was one of my favorite books growing up, and even now as an adult the elegiac descriptions of the English countryside from the verdant blooms of Spring, the lyrical beauty of an English summer and the cozy domesticity of winter can transport me back to childhood.  I think now Kenneth Grahams’s real gift to childrens’s literature was to impart to its reader a love of the natural world, of animals and their habitat and the wonders of nature, and of true friendship.   

The Tea Time Tin collection gathers nostalgic romantic poetry and literary quotes along with some lovely vintage wallaper designs cleverly decoupaged onto tins.  The 6 designs are filled with innocent and romantic scents that seek only to please the recipient with their lovely aroma.  They are an antidote to the complex and stressful world that surrounds us.

A trip to Rajasthan

5 April 2016

Rajasthan has a different feel the rest of northern India, – it’s more open, there are less people, and there are endless wide open spaces.  Rajasthan for the most part seems to trade on its past of forts, castles, Rajput kings and warriors and its artisan traditions.  Here is the home of intricate hand painting, block printed textiles, jewelry making and a host of other hand crafted industries.


Courtyard of the Alsisar Haveli in Jaipur – great place to stay, highly recommend it.


Breakfast with Dad


Late afternoon sunlight, inviting you to pick up that book and while away the hours till twilight..


Evening with a glass of well earned Sula Indian wine..


Textile industry is a bit of mystery, but I did get to witness some down home authentic block printing!


this art is very much alive and well, this man says it’s all he has ever done.


No room for screw ups, or risk losing the whole sheet..


Block printers have a unique focus. their speed and precision depends on it.


Selling rose garlands outside a mosque in Ajmer. There were many such selling identical garlands. Is there a rivalry running between the many garland sellers I wondered?


Sacred Hindu lake at Pushkar. Lot of temples surround it, and I undertook my first Hindu lake offering ceremony.


The central market at Ghantaghar in Jodhpur, bustling and chaotic as all Indian markets, full of good stuff- textiles, bangles, sweets, samosas…


Sitting in a childhood home – the perfect place to sit and write and think and stare at the bougainvillea, and listen to the car horns..

The power of scent

8 December 2015



night blooming jasmine - hand painted tin

night blooming jasmine – hand painted tin


I drifted off to sleep with the warm fire and the soft heady smell of jasmine.  I dreamed of temple belles in the mountains, their sounds near but in reality very far away.  The air of high altitudes carrying their pure sound and with it the scent of incense drifting into the clear thin air.  I dreamed of thick cypress trees and branch laden deodar trees, and brilliant rhododendron blooms..their petals good enough to eat.  I breathed the clear air of high mountains, washed clean yet forever tinged by a hint of wood smoke drifting from village fires.   I was at the top of the mountain and the ever present clouds  parted and I could see for hundreds of miles.  The snow mountains were so clear I reached out for them, as if I could transport myself to their glacial eternity.   Their celestial presence was a testimony to their ancient roots, the eternal snows, rarely visited and glimpsed only on a day such as this.



View of the snow covered peaks far away.  I think that these peaks lie in Tibet, or so I have always believed.

View of the snow covered peaks far away. 

distant snow covered peaks

distant snow covered peaks

I was running home along the steep mountain path – rocky and treacherous but a childhood in the hills ensured I never slipped.  I was coming home, anxious to be home but always just aware of the beauty that played around me.  It was growing dark and I reached my house.  My mother greeted me and tea was on the table.  It was warm and my mother had been anxiously waiting – I was home.

When I woke up I felt a sadness for what was lost and at the same time happy that my memories were so clear that simple scents could bring them back to life.


favorites - Astier de Villate 'Delhi', Cire Trudon 'Chandernagor' , Dyptique 'The',  Jonathan Adler's Hashish.

favorites – Astier de Villate ‘Delhi’, Cire Trudon ‘Chandernagor’ , Dyptique ‘The’, Jonathan Adler ‘Hashish.’


Newly designed refill kits for your wooden candle trays

17 November 2015

These are super user friendly and will extend the enjoyment of your wooden candle tray or barrel for a really long time.

I am posting here the instructions, the size and volume guidelines for what size kit you will need to purchase and a few pictures of the process.  Really, if you have any acquaintance with your kitchen, this mini project should not consume too much time and you should be quite pleased with your results once your wooden candle tray is resurrected to life.

refill flyer  refill size and volume


blog rk3


blog rk2



blog RK1




refill kit website


New Victorian style glass hinge lidded jars

19 September 2015

These will be shipping soon and were a big hit at the NY Now gift show. The have a lovely romantic vintage look when they are burning and look quite nice sitting on a dresser or even a a living room table could do with one.  They will come topped with a decorative fabric dustcover.  NOTE!  This is decorative and must be removed prior to burning!   Yes!  This question has been asked!  They will also come dressed up with a little of our favorite Hanah Silk hand dyed ribbon in Stormy Monday.

vic 1 blog

vic 2 blog
vic 7 blog
vic 8 blog
vic 9 lit blog
vic 10 blog
vic 11 lit blog

Glimpses of candle production –

12 July 2015

Yes, it is all handmade! Our production team gets an early start every week day, and spend the day immersed in creating a fully handmade artisan product. We are able to produce in high volume yet each piece has been selected as free from chips and defects, with careful attention to detail along the way to ensure a uniform high quality. The fact that we rarely have returns due to workmanship and quality is a testament to our careful quality control. We have tried to create an environment where everyone takes ownership of their job, imparting a sense of pride to their workmanship. All of our staff are enthusiastic customers of our candles and extremely knowledgeable about every aspect of our collection. Himalayan Candles would not be where it is without such a stable hardworking employee team.

PROD pouring


prod 1

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prod 3

prod 6

prod 4