Meet The Female Founder Applying Augmented Reality To Turn Candles Into An Immersive Self-Care Experience

by Stephanie Maida · December 11, 2020

    Let's face it - we've all been guilty of splurging on pricey candles, finally lighting one, and then completely forgetting that it's in the room. Talk about burning money. 

    Shavaun Christian wants to change that. In fact, she wants to change the way you experience your favorite candles completely.

    After working for years in the advertising industry, the Brooklyn-based designer and digital creative recently launched Spoken Flames, a sustainable and ethically-sourced candle company that thinks beyond mere background ambiance. While the candles themselves, hand-poured and minimalist chic, are certainly fitting to upgrade a room, Christian has applied her tech prowess to her products, adding an innovative augmented reality component to ensure that each Spoken Flames experience produces a multisensory moment of self-care and empowerment. How? Through your phone, of course!

    The brand's "F, Yes" trio, for example, boasts three candles with scents that correspond to their affirming messages: Focused, Fearless, and Favored. Snap a video of each one and you're taken to a custom Instagram filter that uses fun graphics and grounding spoken word performances to immerse you in an inspiring headspace. Considering where we're all at right now after a harrowing year, it's certainly an ingenious - and necessary - way to enjoy taking some time for yourself. 

    So how'd this brilliant founder find a way to reinvent the wheel? We caught up with the mind behind our favorite new home must-have below!

    After working in the fast-paced advertising industry, what led you to candle-making?

    Ironically, the fast-pace of my career drove me to candles, and ultimately, candle-making. After a long day at work, I'd come home and light a candle. That act cued 'me time,' and transported my mind to a place of calm and peace. The more candles I bought, the more I wondered how they were made, so I took my first candle-making workshop in 2017 and a passion was born.

    We love the sense of empowerment Spoken Flames provides. Why did you want to incorporate affirmations into the brand concept?

    Thank you! I've tried a lot of candles, but something I found very common with most was that they had a brand logo or scent name boldly plastered on the front. That feels very self-serving, passive and impersonal to me. When I, and so many others, incorporate candles as a form of self-care, that kind of detached candle experience is unacceptable. This is why I lead with an affirming message that serves and inspires you on each Spoken Flames candle. I want my candles to speak to you, inspire you, and center you during your moment of self-care. Even when our candles are unlit, the affirmations emblazoned on each Spoken Flames candle make for a strong statement in your home (or space), with a sleek and minimalist design touch; we use typography as art to display the affirmations on our candles.

    Of course, one of the coolest things about Spoken Flames is the tech component. How did you set out to create such a unique, immersive experience with the filters and spoken word element?

    I lead with my heart and imagination, and my imagination is quite active! Having been an avid candle purchaser, I wanted to shake up a centuries-old 'light it and forget it' candle experience. So I thought: 'how?' It helps that I have a background in digital and creative design, but I truly wanted to enhance and redefine the candle experience. Developing a message-driven product was always a priority (especially because of how passive and uninspiring other candles felt), so I thought, what if that message could come to life? What if before someone lights their Spoken Flames candle, they activate their moment of self-care (with an audible spoken word)? What if that spoken word resonated even beyond the life of the candle? My 'what ifs' are generally a precursor for 'why not,' and here we are! Augmented reality has made our immersive self-care experience possible, and our Instagram filters in particular have made the experience more accessible.

    Have you found scent to shift mentality?

    Absolutely! For me, scent triggers a mood. When I'm stressed or frazzled, I'll light our FOCUSED candle, appropriately scented with notes of sandalwood, vanilla and a hint of eucalyptus to evoke calm and encourage clarity. And science has proven that our brains react to scent, too! Scent, emotion and memory are all connected.

    What's your ideal candle-lighting self-care setup? Do you incorporate any other practices or rituals like meditation?

    These days I have two ideal candle-lighting setups: one for while I work, and the other when it's 'me time.' While working from home, I'll lounge on the couch or a bean bag chair with my candle in sight. I love seeing the flicker of the candle flame in my peripheral vision; its soft presence helps me stay grounded. When it's 'me time,' my candle plays a more active role in my self-care practice. I'm usually in my bedroom, which is quieter and gets more natural light, and my candle is kept near my journal. I practice meditation and breathwork (usually in the morning), and lighting a candle sets the mood for my self-care experience. And which candle I light depends on my intention for the day.

    Besides a good candle, what's another wellness essential you can't live without?

    Water, my sports bra, and with winter upon us, a blanket. My wellness rituals revolve around ensuring my mind and body (and all of its systems) are well and supported. So I'm mindful of staying hydrated, aiming for at least 30 minutes of movement each day, and, in a generally hug-less and socially distant 2020, cozying up under a blanket has been key.

    How has the experience of launching a company during these times been for you? Did you run into anything unexpected?

    Launching a company in 2020 has been one of the most challenging experiences of my life. The amount of mental fortitude and emotional maturity it has taken to get this startup off the ground, compounded with greater and systemic issues that 2020 has amplified, has been challenging, but at the same time, a blessing. It's reminded me of what's truly important, which is likely the best and most clarifying vision to have at the start of a new venture.

    Where do you hope to take Spoken Flames in the future?

    From a behind-the-scenes business perspective, I'd love to create opportunities for other makers, creators and imagination-driven people like me. I look forward to growing a hands-on team of folks who are passionate about making—in this case, candles—and curating self-care experiences that celebrate our Spoken Flames community. I never want to be one of those candle companies that outsource production to manufacturers or machinery, no matter how cost-advantageous it may be. Our craftsmanship, human touch, and imagination are part of what makes Spoken Flames so special.

    From the perspective of growing our Spoken Flames community, I want to continue to create immersive experiences that center you and your goals. I want to celebrate people with active imaginations and big dreams, and lend a motivating word—through our candles or content—to support!

    [Photos courtesy Spoken Flames]