Candles & homewares
Unique scented candles, some created as evocative mementos of Maison Balzac founder Elise Pioch’s childhood in the South of France; others inspired by art or historic icons. A range of locally produced, mouth-blown glassware also takes its inspiration from traditional French household items.
“I love the story and memory evoked by Elise Pioch that each candle is based on. They smell amazing and burn well.”Tracy Lines Creative director, storyteller
Tell us a little about your background and how you came to be in Australia.
I grew up in the South of France, then studied fashion in Paris to become a PR at Hermès head office. Very quickly I felt the need to broaden my horizons, which is when I decided to come to Australia in 2004. What was supposed to be a two-month working holiday became 14 years of the most incredible life I ever imagined to live. I worked for Hermès in Melbourne, then became the international buyer for Belinda and The Corner Shop in Sydney, before starting Maison Balzac in 2012.
What inspired you to start your business?
I had been away from home for eight years and was missing it so badly that I imagined a way to transport France, my childhood and memories here to Sydney. So I partnered with a local perfumer and we created the scents of my memories. I set them in wax and created the first five perfumed candles of the collection. So we can say it was born out of nostalgia!
What do you think differentiates your range of candles?
Each candle brand tells a different story. This is what differentiates us all. By telling the honest, idyllic story of my childhood through fragrances, I seem to have moved people in Australia and all over the world, but I cannot really say why...
Take us through your creative process.
It’s very simple and cathartic: I close my eyes, bring myself back in time and catch a memory that I particularly like. For example, I recall visiting the Abbaye d’En Calcat (near where I lived in France) frequently with my family and smelling the balm they make by hand with their own beeswax and rosemary oil. I described that scent to my perfumer, who created Le Silence candle last year, now our third bestselling fragrance of the collection.
What materials do you use and where do you source your fragrances?
We use soy wax, cotton wicks, mouth-blown glass vessels and pure perfume blended exclusively for us by a leading fragrance company in Sydney.
Tell us a little about your collaborations with creatives such as Sydney florist and author Doctor Cooper.
My background in fashion led me to collaborate with the best creatives, including Romance Was Born, Matteau and, of course Doctor Cooper. Every partnership is a lucky adventure and we adore diving into each of them. I have to say that the latest one we created for Cartier and National Gallery of Australia made us very proud.
Why did you decide to produce a range of glassware?
The range of glassware was the beginning of my brand! It took me a year to source a very skilled glass blower to manufacture each candle vessel. I wanted to stand out with the quality and colour of my candle glasses. After three years focusing on candles, it only made sense to finally offer the glasses by themselves, to use as delicate drinking objects. It was a logical evolution for us.
Why Beziers? Is this your childhood hometown?
I was born in Beziers in the Languedoc region in the south and my entire family comes from villages nearby (Villeneuve Les Beziers, Vias, Villepinte...). Both the Balzac and Pioch side of my families have been living in the area for centuries. These are my roots, especially the nature, bush and sea surrounding the villages.
Now you spend more time in France, are you creating new products there for the Australian market?
It’s funny, your question makes me realise that I’ve always created products in Sydney for a French audience, with my French mind and sensibility. It would probably have been more successful if I had tried to target the Australian market! So now that I live in France it doesn’t make any difference; I continue to think of new ‘French’ products with the help and support of my Australian team.
Where do you see Maison Balzac developing in future?
The reason the brand is called Maison Balzac is because we aim to re-create the house of Balzac (my family) with everything to decorate every room. So you can expect us to develop furniture, art, more fragrance and more glassware… until our house is complete.read less