when setting up the shop at the start, i always knew that i’d like to stock candles at some point to sit alongside the other clothes and accessories. i spent hours and hours scouring the internet and venturing all over the country looking for the right brand only to find that it was right on my door step all this time here in leicester!
it’s all thanks to one of my good friends, iqbal, that i was introduced to mo. he was burning an incredible smelling candle at home that caught my attention and it turned out to be from DE LA TERRE. the scent was intoxicating and the packaging beautifully simple. it was too good to be true when i found out that it was locally handmade from the finest, natural ingredients!
this was the start of an education in candle making as well as a wonderful new friendship. mo was just as excited as me to create some unisex scents that were both musky and floral without being too heavy or sweet. we spent some time in his studio testing out different blends of essential oils to find the perfect mix. mo specialises in sustainable aromatherapy so it was important to ensure that we made a relaxing candle and a stimulating one, depending on whether you want to elevate your mood or feel like something more soothing. i really feel like we have achieved just this. ‘the sex candle’ uses the power of cedarwood and chilliseed to energise yourself whilst ‘the morning haze’ balances lavender and fennel to calm your mind when you want to slow things down.
we have taken just as much care and thought over the packaging too. our candles are good looking objects that will enhance any interior. the amber jars and smoked black jars add a simple elegance whilst protecting the potency of the candle. we encourage you to re use the jars once the candle has burned through; wash them out thoroughly and they are perfect for storing special items.
that’s a little bit about the candles, but what about the man behind them? i caught up with mo over a video coffee to chat work, life and simple pleasures.
tell me a bit about when and why you started DE LA TERRE CO.
- DE LA TERRE CO was never planned, there was no business plan. it's spirit originated from years of innovating and making my own natural products at home, as a substitute of the synthetic, chemically rich industry norm. it became an extension of my life encompassing my combined passions as a creative and alternative health practitioner. our products over the years have ranged from nutritional and sports performance based, many products have come and gone but the staples remain. three years ago i transformed a staff kitchen into a lab space on the second floor of a wellness clinic, where i work. DE LA TERRE took up every evening and weekend alongside my job and i found myself innovating products that my patients needed to heal, perform and destress.
what is the most exciting thing about your job?
- for the last three years i wouldn’t say i've had a job. i would describe it as being immersed in a cycle of learn-practise-teach, somewhat of an obsessive rabbit hole of refining myself through my patients. working in health optimisation with professional athletes, celebrities and the everyday person, like myself and travelling around from city to country, it's been far from your average 9-5. there was no concept of weekends and shifts. i live and breathe the wellness philosophy and have found myself cultivating a lifestyle around my passion of helping people live better meaningful lives. however, building DE LA TERRE on the side was challenging, but i loved every minute of it. recently i've been reflecting on where i want to take my next adventure, figuring out how i can add value to people through the tools i've picked up as a performance naturopath and creative.
wow that's incredible! ok, important question - what’s your morning routine and what do you rustle up for breakfast?!
- i start the day with prayer to my creator and a meditation of gratitude for breath. breakfast depends on the day and what the demands are. some days i fast. on normal days i start with warm water and herbs and then i initiate a powerful ritual of coffee brewing from the whole bean down to start the day in a state of love drunk. coffee for me is ceremonial and the details in brewing make it an integral part of starting the day with art. some days i make a creamy bulletproof coffee with an organic ghee that i make myself. this gives the caffeine a sustained release. most sundays, healthy pancakes are on the menu.
sounds like a great, solid start to the day. can you give us your top three places to go in leicester?
- bradgate park, leicester market, ICAHT centre of integrative medicine
i thought you might say bradgate park! so what’s on repeat in your wardrobe for the summer?
- floral shirts, african/indian lungi, short sleeve high necks, multiple pocket gilet, sandals. i love the protective feel of a high or roll neck all year round. i want a new hat to cover my hair, which i've decided to grow long since lockdown.
it's looking great. is there a british brand, large or small, that you really admire?
- before they were cool, the great british charity shops have always been my go to for hidden gems, disconnecting me for the need to fit in with the trends of the highstreet. this stemmed from not being able to afford the high end well made stuff. i developed a skill for finding beautiful garments. i worked for reiss for many years starting from my uni days, which initiated a passion for suits and personal tailoring. it's ironic that a lot of the garments weren't uk made, which defeats the point of being a uk brand. i think i've outgrown my days of wearing saville row cashmere blazers with a good old british made wool flat cap. i'm more casual but still love finding a beautiful british made piece in the few decent charity shops that remain.
what is your favourite shop anywhere in the world?
- TKMAXX! i love exploring TK MAXX. since 2000, i've been a TKMAXX veteran. it started with clothing and footwear, now its branched into homeware. i love the excitement of finding a one off piece, even though TKMAXX is not what it used to be, i always manage to find myself lost between the rails.
me too! so how would you describe your own personal style and what are your style influences?
- i take inspiration from everything, mostly surrounding myself with friends who are passionate about quality and detail. mother earth is full of beauty. my style has evolved a lot. today i am content wearing an african lungi and walking barefoot in nature. i'm at a place now where i don't feel a need to impress people with my clothes so my desire to constantly refill my wardrobe has diminished massively. when i'm in london i love the variety in swagger and always come back inspired. today i flow with a minimal wardrobe, neutral colours, quality sourced pieces, within my budget. i have a rule which i recommend people try. if a new garment comes in, an old piece must go out. it keeps your wardrobe decluttered and offers someone a charity shop high. and this way, you can start to figure out your needs from your wants.
yes, it'd be lovely if everyone reused and recycled their wardrobe more and put more thought into the items they buy. so lets talk about candles - what are your top candle care tips?
- candles are incredibly spiritual tools. there is a subtle difference between a spiritually meditative candle and a toxic one which will harm your health. my number one tip is to invest in naturally fragranced/waxed candles because the average highstreet sells beautifully packaged candles, but with toxic wax and fragrance that should not be in people's homes. this is why we've created a beautiful range of natural candles to educate people that nature doesn’t only smell good, but it makes you feel great.
thanks so much for your wise words and for taking the time out to chat to me. i can not wait for people to enjoy the beautiful candles that you have created especially for THE WILLINGALE SHOP, it's been such a wonderful experience. ok, so there's just one more question to ask you and that is what's your simple pleasure right now?!
- walking in nature, exploring the local woods and trails. this is a big part of my mindfulness practise and it was the same practise that inspired me to heal and recalibrate my spirit and connection to the higher power.
thank you so much mo. sending you lots of good vibes x
you can shop the new collection here.