Elise Pioch is the kind of person who makes you feel like you’re looking at life through a Vaseline lens. She is super charming, French-accented and channels her sense of style and grace, as well as her dedication to quality into her incredible range of heavenly-smelling Maison Balzac candles.
Ode: Your candles are beautiful – really evidently well made with lots of good essential oils – and the packaging is really simple and perfect. Your range is solid without there being too many to choose from, which is smart. You have one collaboration with Romance Was Born, which is such a beautiful scent and I was wondering how this came about?
Elise: It took me over a year to learn the delicate art of candle making; I quickly realised that I had the choice to choose off-the-shelf/cheap materials or customised/quality ones and since I wanted my brand to be unique and high end, I chose the difficult path to tailor everything to my specifications. The wax is a mix I invented, the perfumes have been created by a nose based in Sydney and the packaging has been designed by one of the most talented creative brains in Australia: Jim Parry. Even the white glasses are individually blown! The core collection is made of 5 fragrances that describe a typical Sunday in the south of France when I was a child. This is why it is so concise! I only wanted to add a 6th fragrance if it was a special collaboration, something that would link to my career in fashion. Out of all the fashion brands I was buying (when I was the buyer for fashion boutiques Belinda & The Corner Shop), Romance Was Born was the most fun and memorable so I approached the designers and it was an instant, 'yes let's do it'!
I understand you have a non-scented candle in the range too. What’s the story with this?
There are so many good candle labels out there, so many fragrant products, so much visual stimulation in our lives that I felt the need to offer a rest to the eyes and nose! Sort of a silence for the senses. This is why it is called LE SILENCE. It is made with organic beeswax and a minimal amount of propolis (bee's caviar!) so it's only got a very natural and subtle scent of honey. The box and sticker are black. It's going back to the origin of candles, when they were used for celebrations or light. Back to the basics!
Do you have plans for more candles or collaborations in the future that you can tell us about?
I currently have three collaborations under way (in France and Australia, in Fashion and Design) and two new candles inspired by the south of France. 2014 is going to be a big year.
I read that you are related to the 19th Century writer Honoré do Balzac who was a great observer of the time. That’s awesome. Do you have anything of his that has been handed down through the gens?
Honoré de Balzac didn't have any official children so no one really is a direct descendant however my family (on my mother's side) is said to be related to the Balzac's. My grand father told me many times about a document his parents received to let them know that they would inherit Honoré de Balzac's fortune if they declared themselves to a lawyer but they refused as they knew that Balzac only left debts behind him! We still have at home a wooden desk, which I was told was one of Balzac's writing desk.
You’re being stocked in Colette now, which is exciting. How do you divide your time between Australia and France?
Colette happened 6 months after I launched Maison Balzac and was an incredible boost. Shortly after I was also stocked at Bergdorf Goodman in New York then Restir in Tokyo. What an adventure! Now I spend at least 2 months a year in France to source new products, feed the inspiration behind the brand and to keep objectivity with everything that is happening.
Any other projects on the horizon that you can let us know about?
I am working with a French architect in Sydney to design the ultimate MB atelier - my dream workplace where I will create, produce and make the magic happen. I cannot wait!