How to describe Boujee Bougies as a brand? The clever wordplay on 'Boujee' (slang for something opulent or fancy) and 'Bougies' (French for candles) immediately alerts you to their uniqueness. And with names like Cuir Culture, Hellflower and Gilt, it's clear these candles are far from average. Just like the trio behind the brand: perfumer Pia Long, fragrance evaluator, trainer and expert Nick Gilbert and experienced fragrance writer, Thomas Dunkley (a.k.a. award-winning blogger 'The Candy Perfume Boy').

Together with lab assistant, designer (he did the Boujee illustrations) and trainee perfumer Ezra-Lloyd Jackson and part-time consultant perfumer and chemist Marianne Martin; they also form Olfiction: a privately owned fragrance house and consultancy, founded by Pia and creative director Nick in 2016. Pia happens to be the perfumer behind a number of Parks own candles. But Boujee Bougies is all about their own personal expression and creative freedom with a side-order of subversive playfulness. So, we thought the best way to describe Boujee Bougies is to let them introduce you to their world in their own words...

Nick Gilbert: 'It's in our nature not to do what's expected. Everyone was asking us "when do your perfumes come out?" I kind of felt like, yes but that's what everyone does first: launch a perfume.'

Pia Long: 'With perfumes it would have been so easy to sabotage our own potential to do things in the future, and cross-over with work we're doing for other brands. We reached a wonderful stage of confidence where we can now play around. You could say we reached the moon and now we're juggling around with the planets, thinking "what can we do next?". So doing a perfume brand first would have sucked us dry of our resources and stopped that wonderful playfulness happening - which is what candles allow. Boujee Bougies are playful but done in a serious way.'

Nick: 'That's very much part of who we are. We take our work seriously and want to do a good job. But you can have fun - it doesn't always have to be completely buttoned up. I think a lot of the fragrance world takes itself too seriously. Where's the joy? Putting the fun back into fragrance is an idea a lot of people have but don't seem to do.'

Pia: 'A lot of people think if something's "fun" that means it's not good or grownup. Or that it's done as a gimmick. We wanted to avoid all of those traps. It wasn't even a conscious decision, that's just how we work. Boujee Bougies is very much a mixture of all of us but set in wax. It shows the irreverent nature, the skills, friendship and trust to go beyond the safe. To launch our own brand, we felt we needed to go big or go home, the same way you should do fancy dress or drag costumes. Otherwise, what's the point? Also, it was really important to be different so that we don't cannibalise the work we do for other brands.

We love working with Parks because they really busted the myth that natural wax candles don't perform. And with our fragrances in their wax, we get a lovely clean burn that customers have already sent feedback to us about. Comments like "it's the best candle I've ever had, even burn and no soot" have been lovely. We wanted to put our hearts into this brand and the wax and real-life performance are a big part of how our products will be enjoyed by the people who matter.'

Nick: 'Exactly. And we wanted them to be the candles that people didn't even know they needed. I mean, we didn't know we wanted to do them! Genuinely, I woke up one morning with the name Boujee Bougies in my head, told Pia and we both went: okay so we're going to do this. Parks had said to us from the get-go that we should do our own candles, and we agreed but just didn't want to release something as Olfiction; The Brand. We needed to find a way to delineate, so it could exist in its own space.'

Pia: 'The candles have all evolved really differently, too. Some start with the names...'

Nick: 'Yes, Cuir Culture was a name first and obviously that suggested a leather fragrance. At first it was too much, even for us. It was a fabulous leather but too much sex. So that was toned down, but then there were some technical issues. Succulent came from a wonderful cactus accord that Pia had already been working on. Hellflower was name first (from a terrible old sci-fi novel I found on eBay). Queen Jam and Gilt were both concept first.'

Pia: 'Queen Jam is a fragrance I've had in my head and been working on privately for literally about ten years. Every time I learned new things as a perfumer I'd go back and tweak it a bit more.

The one that took the longest was Gilt, because Nick kept saying he wanted the smell of incense resin instead of the oil. The resin is more church-y while the oil is more lemon-y. Creating the character of the resin using the oil and other materials was quite difficult. You have to use the oil because if you use the resin in a candle in any significant quantity it self-extinguishes and doesn't burn. I used saffron accord and amber materials to give it that golden glow of light through stained glass and gold-leaf.

Succulent was the fastest because of the accord I'd made based on a desert oasis mirage, an otherwordly cactus expanded out to a Boujee fragrance. Nick added some wonderful imagery to the brief, post-apocalyptic jungle vines in a Brutalist building, while Thomas was talking about house plants.'

Thomas Dunkley: 'Doing the storytelling for Boujee Bougies, I feel really lucky to have been on the periphery of the development, getting to know them as they formed, giving feedback as we went along. I was in this really privileged position where I was distant, yet close enough to be able to write about them. It was probably one of the easiest writing tasks I ever done. Partly because it was all a bit tongue-in-cheek, which is not a massive stretch for me. What makes them so cool is that they're basically niche fragrances but as candles.'

Pia: 'Thomas has also come up with the concept for a new Boujee Bougies variant which we're working on. So that's been an interesting experiment, in that Thomas took the lead role, coming up with the story he wanted to tell, and Nick has been working with him on how to feed back to the perfumer.'

Thomas: 'And that's a massive skill, such a learning curve. How do you sync your language in a way that's understood so you're all working towards the same thing?'

Pia: 'This is where the pandemic kind of threw everything out the window for a while. We'd been thinking, okay, now we have a structured way of working, a method loosely fitted into the marketing calendar and project development plan, let's formalise it. Then Covid-19 happened and suddenly I'm by myself at the lab, everyone's gone into a tailspin with brands just trying to survive. We were going to have a whole new set of things coming out later this year but had to draw our focus on the next two variants, one of which is signed off and the other that Thomas is leading.'

Nick: 'We can come up with hundreds of ideas, but the time-factor and practicalities of working with uncertainty due to the pandemic mean we have to limit things. But we know for sure what the identity of Boujee Bougies is: the name has to be a little bit cheeky, there has to be some kind of subversion and novelty in the actual fragrance, and then it has to be bloody good! It has to perform well. We're sticklers.'

Pia: 'We're never just going to put out products that please everyone or tick boxes. Right after we launched, in what was probably our last face-to-face meeting, we had so many more ideas scribbled on notepads we could have brought out in the next eighteen months. But then realising what the work schedule looked like, we whittled it down to two. And the choice came down to this: what feels "Boujee-est"?'

With glowing reviews in major glossy magazines and national newspapers, and major names in the beauty and fragrance world such as Caroline Hirons and Sali Hughes raving their wares; the future certainly burn bright for Boujee Bougies. As for the next two 'Boujee-est' concepts Pia hinted at and currently being turned into candles? Watch this scented space...