Emma Mitro spoke to Emeraude Domingos-Mbuku, the founder of Catherine & Co. a Toronto-based, e-commerce premium candle company specializing in perfumed candles inspired by the treasures of Africa and the diaspora. Emeraude’s goal is to showcase the importance of her African culture and history through clean-burning, slowly made, hand-poured, ethically sourced, aesthetically pleasing candles.
Catherine & Co. products are produced in small, limited batches and are handcrafted using a coconut and soy wax blend. Emeraude talks about her journey to curate these non-toxic, vegan, and cruelty-free candles that will ‘tell a story while taking you on an olfactory journey.
When did you start Catherine & Co?
I decided to start in November of 2019. I didn’t go into production until March of 2020, so from November 2019 to March 2020, I worked on brand image, design, and name, creating an ‘instagramable’ brand. Over time, the product has evolved from being extremely instagramable to a ‘slow mode candle brand’. Catherine is my mother’s name and we wanted a cute, and memorable name that would resonate with our customers, so I named it after her.
My mother is my biggest supporter, and while I may not be following in her exact footsteps, I hold the same ideologies. For this reason, we create clean-burning candles at affordable prices by ethically sourcing materials from the most reputable companies in North America.
Catherine & Co. officially launched Summer of 2020, focusing primarily on the sweet scents of summer. Emeraude wanted to capture and create bouquets that fulfilled both her and her mother, which also reflected Black Culture and the diaspora in Africa, to curate unique, inimitable scents. Thinking about and utilizing elements found through Africa, South America, she created her first signature scent, mango papaya. “My company is very much inspired by Africa, my friends and family, and my heritage.
A little bit about Catherine & Co. premium Quality Candles: Why they are special
My designs are intentional as they are aesthetically pleasing and look great on Instagram feeds. After researching the competition, I realized most of them use similar themes, tactics, and color schemes. I learned black and white never goes out of style- so that was a building block for me.
Our brand uniqueness comes from the African heritage that has been intentionally embedding in all our products. The themes, the labels, the names, and the language I use, all tie back into that; although they might look basic, they are different in bringing some African aromas. Our products have minimalistic look and created in small batches- so they are very restricted yet personalized. I am also looking at venturing into the wedding business as well. We are currently doing white labels, customs aromas, and collaborations with small businesses.
Catherine & Co. Commitment to giving back.
Our previous charity candle was the “bamboo candle.” From that we would donate a percentage of sales monthly to the community. We are currently planning to launch a charity candle in March 2021, primarily to support rape-victims from Congo’s Panzi Hospital. The donations will help Grass Roots organization in Congo. This hospital is responsible for healing, and helping survivors of warfare, and especially sexual violence. We plan to donate 50% of the charity candle’s proceeds to support the hospital. It’s really important for me to help victims of sexual assault and abuse. It happens to almost every woman, and I want to create awareness of what is happening in Congo.
What is a significant challenge you have faced caused by the pandemic?
Everything is dependent on shipping times, and those have been really delayed and pushed back due to the pandemic. Canada isn’t a manufacturing country, and we get much stuff imported, including my materials. This forced me to back-peddle and focus on suppliers in my community and source from local suppliers instead.
I haven’t been in a situation that consists of regular work hours or operations, in the sense that if I order something, I can expect it in 5- 7 days. The pandemic has made it difficult for everyone. In the beginning, it was rough, and I had just started, and everyone started making candles so there was a shortage of jars, so I had to order bigger ones and increase my candle sizes as a result.
How have the customers been responding thus far?
I love feedback and have been getting a lot of great information from customers about the scents, how the candles burn, and other reviews that tell me what I should improve. Feedback ensures progress and satisfaction from customers.
We also learn by looking at other businesses to see what they are doing or aren’t doing and what works and what doesn’t. It’s essential to build relationships with your customers and ask, ‘what can I do to stand out or do different’ especially with this competitive industry. Because of this feedback, we are planning to launch an upcoming floral spring collection”.
Our new collection will be launching after Valentine’s day. It’s a collection focused on myself and Toronto culture. I grew up in Toronto, so it’s going to be inspired by all things Toronto: the sayings of Toronto, Toronto life, and some iconic landmarks and places, including the McDonalds on Queen and Spadina.
Emeraude and Catherine pick all of the scents for the candles that are available. Catherine & Co. also offers an unscented candle to cater to people who are scent sensitive, available with special collections and drops. Three more scents are being introduced in the coming weeks, so stay tuned and up to date with Catherine & Co. on Instagram for the latest news.
For more information kindly visit:
Also available at the following retailers:
- Evergreen Natural Foods & Fruit Stand – 1290-6, Crescent Valley, BC
- Kawartha Artisan Market- 14 Oak Street, Fenelon Falls, ON
- Good Intentions – 1434 Danforth Ave, Toronto, ON
- Landing & Co. – 1203 Gore Street, Richard’s Landing, ON
- Likely General – 389 Roncesvalles Avenue, Toronto, ON
- All Blk Market
- Maison D’Origine
- Kinsfolk Shop
- The Nooks – Marketplace
Author: Emma Mitro, Lifestyle, Content Writer for The Onside Media, Canada. If you have any stories or comments, kindly email: – [email protected]