Wyspworks Origin Story

Hey folks.

It's always been important for us to be open, transparent and communicate with you all. That’s why we want to start a little blog. Nothing too serious, but a space where we can talk about Wyspworks, ourselves, give tips and also share some of our storytelling and art.

We have always wanted to connect with our customers, and that’s why we share little snippets of our lives and the trials and tribulations of running a small business. In our first blog, I want to talk about the creation of Wyspworks and the circumstances that led up to us taking that step into becoming small business owners. So let's begin!

Wyspworks was born out of my desire to create a comic. Allow me to explain…

I used to work in a museum, multiple museums to be exact. I had my Masters in Museum Studies, and used to work in collections management. This meant I directly handled objects, specimens and artefacts. It was a job I loved, and I never thought I would do anything else. Then I became pregnant in 2016 with my daughter. This was my second pregnancy and it was harder for me emotionally. My mother passed away the year before after a long battle with breast cancer, so I was feeling incredibly flat, emotional and overwhelmed with my life and job. I was also forced to begin my maternity leave early because at the time I was working with a historic entomology collection that was housed in cases that were filled with naphthalene. Naphthalene is essentially what mothballs are made out of and its dangerous to pregnant women, so I wasn’t allowed to be near collections that contained traces of it. So I thought the extra time off would be a good chance for me to focus on myself and take control of the chaos of emotions I was feeling internally. A little extra break and self-care, so to speak.

That would be great, however, I have a restless mind and I need to always be doing something. That’s when I decided to combine my love of comics and writing, and I became a full-time comics editor for an Australian pop culture website. I could do this from home and at my own pace, which suited me as a pregnant stay-at-home-mum at the time. Yep, if you goggle my name, you’ll most likely see some old reviews of mine or interviews I did with content creators. I loved it, but when little Edith turned into a toddler, things became harder for me to handle, and I ended up leaving that gig after only a few years.

So, in 2018 I was feeling jaded and a little lost. I loved being a mum, but I needed to have some kind of creative outlet, so I could express myself and have my own identity. So I sat down one day and decided I was going to write a comic and have Lukey illustrate it. It was going to be some kind of alternate dark history filled with compelling characters, and wild adventures. I thought this was going to be a piece of cake, but I fully underestimated how hard this whole venture was going to be. In short, I got writers block. I scrapped my epic story idea and decided to write a collection of short stories instead. This seemed to flow more effortlessly, but I felt like there wasn’t any connective tissue there, and it felt a little disjointed at times. I stopped again, unsure where to take my ideas and stories. At this point, poor Lukey had a collection of half finished illustrations and discarded comic layouts thanks to my indecisiveness.

All of this back-and-forth between stories and ideas quickly helped us to figure out that we worked really well together as writer and artist, and that we could potentially create something cool and unique. The problems was, I was having a hard time figuring out what I wanted to create. Lukey is an easygoing person, who is incredibly supportive. He kept urging me to relax and not to rush. So we kept the comic ideas and put them aside for the time being.

Shortly after this decision, I was sitting in my room drinking tea and scrolling on my phone one night and I thought to myself, "I should start a business and somehow incorporate my ideas along with Lukey’s art.". It would be my business, my expectations, my aesthetic and my ideas. I would fully fund it myself with what little money I had saved and make it a product I would love to buy if I was a customer. The next hurdle was then to figure out what object I wanted to make and sell. It had to be something I was interested in, felt passionate about and could teach myself how to make.

That is how I landed on candles. I love candles. I always have and always will. I collect them and burn them every night. I was also a little tired of seeing the same old looking candles with the usual lavender or vanilla scents. I wanted something a little edgy and a little dark, so as to reflect who I am as a person. So I thought to myself, "how about I make cool candles”. What exactly is a “cool candle” though? 

So, initially I came up with my overall theme and a handful of concepts. I thought that combining my love of folklore and forests would be a good start, as I could name the candles after obscure woodland creatures and go from there. I also wanted gorgeous artwork to go along with the candles, to make them stand out and be unique. Lukey suggested using some of the discarded illustration ideas he had and then turn them into little cards, kind of like collectable cigarette cards from the late 19th and early 20th century. So he started working on those, and I started working on the concepts and scent designs of each candle. I thought that 8 initial core candles would be a good starting place, and straight away I called this core collection “Into the Woods”. It came to me very easily. 

I had to start researching how to make candles, and I tell you, it was a baptism of fire. I had NO idea how temperamental candle wax could be. I made so many testers, experimented with various wax types, wicks, vessels and scents. It was all a wild experiment with some mistakes as I figured out how to use the wax correctly. I eventually landed on how I wanted my candles to look, but I needed to figure out how to blend scents and create the unique earthy fragrances that I wanted. This all took a lot of research and time to figure out. However, the hardest part was the wooden wicks. I wanted wooden wicks so bad, but I didn’t realise how hard it is to get a wooden wick to burn correctly. Trial and error was the only way I figured that out, and eventually came to the double wicks and exact sizing that I use today. I shiver thinking about how many fails I had leading up to that point!    

I also wanted little stories to go along with each candle, to help create a “scent experience”. This was a term I came up with when trying to figure out what I wanted from my candles. I wanted a more immersive experience for people, so if I could combine a little story, along with nice art and a special name and scent design, then I might be able to achieve just that. To create a sense of escapism when someone closed their eyes and smelt the scent of the candle as they used it. The first candle completed was Silvanus o’the Woods. I was so proud of that candle, and it honestly inspired me to create the rest in that core collection.

Jump to the 19th of January, 2019, and we had 8 complete candles, a clunky Squarespace website and a baby instagram account with about 50 followers. We launched Wyspworks at 9am and waited. We didn’t get any sales on the first day, but we had a close family friend and one of my Aunts buy some candles the following day. I was so excited when I heard my first sale *DING*!

It was slow at first, but I wasn’t worried. This was an experiment and I was patient and happy to let things happen organically. Slowly by word of mouth and after a few shares and reviews on instagram, we started to gather a little following. One thing we noticed quickly was that our customers were different from your regular stock. They were ultra sweet, supportive and very, very cool. We quickly started to develop a little Wyspworks community online, and along with that, lasting friendships. 

So, that’s really it. Out of a few failures, Wyspworks was born. I love this business and it's what I hope to do for the rest of my life. We have grown so much, and we hope to continue to do so. I can do this because of you, our loyal and supportive customers. We can’t believe how much love we get, and we are eternally grateful to have found such an awesome group of fellow weirdos.

Okie doke, our next blog post will be one of my short stories that I wrote back in the day. I’ll include it with one of Lukey’s illustrations to accompany it. We will offer this new artwork as a signed A4 print, as we know the demand for Lukey’s art is high.

Thanks for tuning in, and we hope you enjoy this new little experiment.

Dana x

Above image: Some of our unfinished comic ideas.


  • Love the blog and love you guys. Can’t wait to read some more xxx

  • Looooooved reading that. I had no idea you guys were going to make a comic. Please still do!!

  • Really enjoyed reading this. Thnx for sharing


Leave a comment