Ali Gyoker of BamBam Rocks hand-makes ‘unboring’ candles and diffusers from her home studio. Here, we chat about inspirations, eco-priorities and an endless stream of ideas that fuel her beautiful, bold creations.
Tell us a little about your work and your background
I have an obsession with candles, fragrance and all things design. In my previous life I spent 17 years in the corporate world of IT and wonderful as it was on many levels, life became impossible to juggle with a family and my creative urges took over. I now work for myself in my home studio which we've built (Mr BamBam is happy the kitchen is no longer coated in wax) and I hand-pour a variety candles, as well as making reed diffusers, melts, room sprays and home decor items.
I love fragrance, I find an escapism there - smell can take you on so many journeys and conjure up memories, so I spend my days making new blends for the seasons or to infuse specific spaces. I am driven by bold and edgy design, and I am obsessed with colour - the brighter the better.
What made you decide to start your creative business
I've always been creative, so throughout my corporate life I was always doing something; jewellery, painting, haberdashery - if there's a creative course out there, I'll do it! So it has grown organically. My candle-making journey started when Mr BamBam and I decided to buy and renovate a French ski chalet which is where our brand name comes from. After designing that from the ground up, I started making candles for the groups that stayed there. That was six years ago and it's just grown from there - people came back asking me if they could buy them, so over time it grew - from humble kitchen beginnings.
Where do you find inspiration?
Everywhere! I can't shut my brain off. One of my biggest challenges is that I just can't slow the stream of ideas down! I get inspired by places I visit, the seasons, colours. I do a lot of bespoke creations which allows me to do different things every day.
Describe your typical working day
It's very much dictated by my children's day. What started as a side hustle, still plays second fiddle to their needs - I have to remind myself of this when I get in the zone, wanting to finish something. Once I've dropped them to school, I get the melters on, so I can pour to my heart’s content. I mostly make to order, doing bespoke, personalised creations. I'll usually get carried away and start something that's been on my mind and then before I know it, it's pick-up time. Time management, although I am an organised person, goes right out the window when I'm in my studio.
What has been the biggest highlight and biggest challenge to date?
The absolute highlight is actually having a local, ethical brand that's recognised by people - it's happened through word of mouth which I'm so proud of. My ethical credentials are important - one of my goals was to partner with Just One Tree, which I did last year. So every penny people spend with me, I donate to this wonderful organisation to help them plant trees and expand kelp forests. My ingredients and materials are reused, recycled, refillable, biodegradable - everything I do is with the planet in mind. Also, being approached by local businesses to stock my creations is just amazing. Someone posted a on Facebook looking for candle refills and so many people suggested me, I was very humbled (and happy that people are refilling their used candle votives!).
Challenge - saying 'no'... learning to say no to bigger stockists or projects that take away from my exclusive designs. You've got to stay true to yourself, and my uniqueness, is just that - mine, so no matter how tempting the financial return, sticking to limited, high quality runs a priority.
My other challenge is myself - attempting to control the stream of ideas about creations to embark upon is a near-on impossibility.
What are your creative goals for 2022?
Get my social media content planned and not winged - somehow make that a less stressful thing (comparison is the thief of joy, and if it feels like people are imitating your ideas try to take it as a compliment - mantras to live by). More of the same for my lovely stockists like Drifters, Blue Tin and the Henley Larder. Keep making beautiful, bold creations that make people's spaces smell divine, and encourage people to refill their candle votives to save landfill.
Oh and to be able to make all the items in my brain...
Best nugget of wisdom to share with your fellow Creative Ducks?
You don't have to be great to start but you do have to start to be great - an oldie but a goodie. Don't compromise you, it's you that's the key ingredient to anything you embark upon, so if it feels like it's too much of a diversion from your own path, say no.
Recently, my friend said she asks herself 'what are you striving for and why?' particularly when she's feeling the pressure of social media logistics. It reminds me how to get perspective on why I'm doing this and sack off that social media pressure - time to let it go.
Where can we find out more?
Instagram is where to see things first - many bespoke orders arise from people seeing something they like and dropping me a message. You can shop on my website too www.bambamrocks/shop.com. I am so lucky to have some beautiful local independent stockists too - each of them stocking a different collections - Blue Tin Produce, The Henley Larder and the lovely Drifters Coffee House. There are a couple more stockists coming shortly too… more to come on that!