The Marvel superhero Daredevil lost one of his five basic human senses – sight, in an accident when he was younger. However, his remaining senses: touch, hearing, taste and smell have all enhanced to superhuman levels. Daredevil uses these super senses, to fight the bad guys and is pretty good at it when you throw in his martial arts ability. But when it comes to superhuman sensory powers, there does appear to be some fact behind the comic book fiction.
Scientists tell us that the average human nose has roughly 400 types of scent receptors that are capable of detecting one trillion different odours. This superhero-like power means that we can notice within seconds when someone is wearing our favourite perfume. We can distinguish instantly between the smell of baby powder from the smell of bleach. But there are also times when you want to reawaken childhood memories with the smell of sweet candy from your favourite shop from yesteryear. Maybe turn your living room into an evergreen forest full of cedar pines or your bedroom into a 5-star hotel suite with sumptuous fresh linen.
Linda Moran Harte of Waxy Wonders makes beautifully scented soy wax melts at her home in Coosan, Athlone. Currently, she has over 40 different fragrances for customers to choose from, and her painstaking attention to detail is evident from all the different shapes, sizes and scents she sells.
Back to School
Linda grew up in Garnafailagh, attending Cornamaddy National School before moving to Our Lady’s Bower at secondary level.
“I didn’t really know what I wanted to do with my life when I was younger. For a while, I wanted to be a jockey because my father used to be involved in point-to-point racing in his youth, but I eventually grew out of that too and I suppose I just took each day at a time.”
After second level, Linda worked in the area of childcare provision until about nine years ago, when she joined Get Fresh Vending, a company that provides catering services to secondary schools. Linda was based for the first four years in Ballymahon at the Mercy Secondary School, before moving close to home in a role that took her back to her old secondary school. She recalls that moment.
“It was mad walking through the doors of Our Lady’s Bower and meeting many of my old school teachers again. My former Vice-Principal, Noel Casey was there also, except he was now the Principal! I love all the interaction that my job gives me and I get on really well with all the girls that attend that school.”
In 2019, Linda was looking online for some presents to buy and came across some wax melts that she immediately bought. When they arrived, she decided that she was going to try and make some herself with some of her own favourite fragrances that she couldn’t find elsewhere. Unlike conventional candles, there is no wick or open flame with wax melts and the aroma is released once it heats up in a warmer.
“I bought a 5 kg bag of wax flakes to experiment with. I heated the wax and then hand-poured the mixture into a mould before adding an entire bottle full of baby powder fragrance. Not knowing how much to add, I was very lucky that I didn’t poison my two testers – my mother and my sister!
Soy v Paraffin
Linda decided not to use paraffin wax right from the start. Instead, she uses natural soy wax that is made from soya bean oil. Soy wax also gives a cleaner burn and a longer scent throw and can be used by people who have asthma or other similar conditions. Her wax melts are not harmful to animals and can be used safely with children.
“I sent some wax melts to an asthmatic friend of mine in Sligo, and she experienced no problems, so I have stuck with soy since.”
Soy wax costs more than paraffin wax, and it took Linda six months of trial and error to perfect the recipe. “I learned that the whole batch could be ruined if I added even one single gram too much of fragrance oil. It was definitely an expensive learning curve!”
Friends v Customers
Linda never thought about selling any of her wax melts and really enjoyed experimenting with different fragrances that she made just for friends and family. Making melts is very time-consuming. Linda could start at 9 am and not be finished till 10 or 11 pm.
However, she perfected her wax melts after several months of trial and error and then wondered whether she could sell some as Christmas gifts.
“One day, I took some of my wax melts to work, and was very surprised to get orders from about ten people who all wanted personalised boxes of wax that spelt out a greeting e.g., Happy Xmas Linda. Even now, my mum gets a few of these boxes made up for her friends at work for a birthday or if someone is leaving. I think people appreciate that I try to make products that are luxurious, allergy-free, and eco-friendly. My friends Sabrina and Sharon helped me pick the name Waxy Wonder for my little business. Thankfully they agreed not to trademark the name If I kept them in regular supply!”
In March 2020 when the entire country went into lockdown people stopped buying melts from her. Things became normal again in October 2020, and she found herself becoming busy over the Christmas season until the second lockdown. Then the Irish government banned fragrances and wax coming from the UK which was where her supplier was based.
“Just as people were starting to look for Waxy Wonders, I couldn’t get the wax! Thankfully now, that ban has been lifted, but because of Brexit, there is the additional headache of having to worry about customs charges.“
Tiny Hearts to Waxy Bouquets
The first Waxy Wonders product was a bag of tiny penny-sized love hearts followed by large stars. This year she decided to make a bouquet of 12 flower shaped wax melts, with three different fragrances for her father to give to her mother on Valentine’s Day. Linda believes she is a bit of a perfectionist. “The wax melts have to be right, if they’re not right then I will just bin the whole batch and start again.” Thankfully, her friend Claire Devaney is always there to help. “Claire is brilliant, she will come for hours to help me make my Waxy Wonders and was here at my kitchen table from day one. She is priceless!”
Despite holding down a full-time job, Linda will continue making Waxy Wonders in the evenings and at weekends. She is encouraged by all the positive feedback and support from customers, her family and friends.
” I would love to concentrate on my business full-time if I could and am always thinking about making new Waxy Wonder products e.g., soaps, room sprays and other similar scented items. I started my own little business from my kitchen table but have taken over the shed that my husband Kenny had other plans for. The superheroes in my life are my husband, children and Claire because they all can pour and measure the wax into the moulds, which is wonderful!
Waxy Wonders: https://www.facebook.com/Waxy-Wonders-111224813626122
This article was published in the Westmeath Independent 26/05/21.