Jonathan Ward was working as a clothing designer in New York City, climbing the ranks and increasing his profile, when he stopped to realise that he was on the wrong track.
“I had progressed quite quickly, and with that progression came a real step away from where my heart was,” Jonathan explains.
“I had this epiphany that I really wanted to get back to day-to-day living that sat with my soul. I didn’t know what that was going to be; I just knew that it wasn’t going to be sitting for 8 hours discussing trending or button colours in an office in New York in the garment district.”
Jonathan’s passion for fragrance was sparked when he took over the marketing for a friend’s distribution of an Italian apothecary line.
“I thought, you know what, I can take what I’ve learnt here and do it for myself.”Jonathan Ward London was launched in 2008 – a range of pure beeswax and soy wax candles that Jonathan describes as “a collection of ideas, personal inspirations, things that I’m passionate about; memories from childhood, moments in time, moments in history.”
Eschewing predictable fragrance combinations – “we don’t have a fig fragrance, or vanilla, or lemongrass or ginger” – Jonathan’s creations are about “using oils, notes and fragrance cleverly to create new blends and achieve something new.”
Inspiration for scents can come from anywhere. “I collect things on my journeys; it’s like a painting – capturing a painting with fragrance notes,” he says.
Some collections arise from Jonathan’s memories of his childhood; some are tributes to historical figures.
The Amber range of candles, for example, evokes the life of Lady Idina Sackville, a socialite who scandalised the London scene in the 1930s. Inspired by her story, Jonathan created three candles in her honour, each representing a different aspect of her life. Jonathan matches the intricacies of each scent with a careful, hands-on approach to all aspects of his work. He hand-pours every candle himself, and makes sure that both the products and practices used in their creation are sustainable.
Natural soy and beeswax – all ethically farmed – are used rather than paraffin, which can leave traces of chemicals in the air. The evocative, carefully-designed packaging is recyclable and made of recycled materials. The only footprint left by Jonathan’s candles, then, is the lingering effect of the fragrance.
“Fragrance is inexplicably linked with memory,” Jonathan muses. “If I’m drawing on a historical reference and someone brings it into the present and burns it, people will connect their personal memories, moments with friends, things that they’ve shared… and they will then associate my fragrances with new memories. It’s this wonderful reinventing of memories that get passed through fragrance, which I think is really beautiful.”