31 May 2022

A Field Trip to Field Day

It was a perfect, sunny Spring morning as I drove to Field Day HQ, nestled in the Co.Down countryside.  As I drove, I could see and smell the wildflowers in the fields and hedgerows that are the daily inspiration for Field Day founder Alix Mulholland.  Walking around the offices and factory, I could spy jars of wildflowers dotted on windowsills and on desks; these folk walk the walk!

The view from the factory and a little jar of blooms on the window sill. 

I was lucky to be able to see how everything is made and the processes involved.  Alix and her friendly team do everything (yep, everything) by hand, on site at the light-filled former mushroom factory that is now the hub of all things Field Day.  The morning I was there, Rachel had just poured some wax melts and was in the process of pouring some Rain candles from the Apothecary range.  They showed me how the candles are made, right from how the wax is melted, how the recipes for each fragrance are put together, how the wicks are added and how the incense and incense holders are made.  Did I say before that they do everything?! The team are continually testing their products to ensure everything always works perfectly.  Any slight change to any aspect of the process, can cause a ripple through everything else.  Constantly evolving legislation etc means they have cannot rest on their laurels but must always stay on top of things.

Alix showing me the raw wax. 

Rachel at work pouring candles.

This year Field Day celebrate its 20th birthday and to celebrate, Alix and the team have created a new Seeds of Change range. The Seeds of Change collection includes incense, an incense holder, a two-wick candle, and wax melts.  Each of these includes seeds that Alix has gathered by hand on dusky evening walks in the countryside around her home.  The seeds are sprinkled on top of the candles, into the melts and along with soil and earth are blended into the jesmonite that the incense holders and the container for the candle are made from.  The effect is really quite beautiful; the essence of the countryside, part of the earth, is literally part of the product.  This new range sounds straightforward but there has been a lot of hard work involved in bringing it to fruition, constant experimenting, trialling and testing.  The idea for the range came from a lockdown idea Alix had and took about 6 months from conception to execution.

Alix with the seeds that she's foraged by hand.

 Seeds going directly into the candles.

Incense holders start out like this...

...and end up like this.

Alix is continually informed by the local countryside and all its weeds and wildflowers.  She is passionate that all her ranges are inspired by indigenous Irish flowers. Her children are well used to her performing emergency stops on the road to gather lilac or wild garlic, if her keen eye should spot some whilst driving.

Ever since she was a child, Alix has been in love with making little potions from petals.  Her mum was font of knowledge when Alix was growing up, with an encyclopaedic knowledge of indigenous flora and fauna and was a keen gardener.  So, by osmosis, Alix grew up being able to recognise and identify many species which has informed her entire process.

 Under the Field Day umbrella are several ranges, Apothecary, Folk, Seeds of Change etc.  Two new fragrances have recently been added to the Folk collection and I enquired how additions like that come about.  Alix explained that in this instance, she wanted to add something light to the range and she set about finding the fragrance that would fill that gap.   ‘Luna’, a combination of Night Jasmine and Neroli, was the outcome.  It’s the kind of scent you might come across on a walk in the moonlight.  The second new fragrance in the collection, ‘Quiet’ (crushed Chamomile and Powder Musk), is a reworking of a fragrance that had been part of their collection some years ago. 

For Alix, the smell, the name, and the colour of the packaging all act together to contribute to the olfactory experience.  Coming up with names is a group effort and the whole Field Day team get involved.  Alix is in awe of the power of fragrance and how it can unlock memories and feelings.  She tells me the story of a woman she met at a trade show in London who after smelling the Hay candle from the Apothecary range, began to cry. The smell evoked intense memories of her late father who was a farmer who had passed away some years before.  

'Luna' and 'Quiet' join the Folk family.

It made me think of Helen Keller, the American author who was both blind and deaf.  She wrote: “Smell is a potent wizard that transports you across thousands of miles and all the years you have lived. The odors of fruits waft me to my southern home, to my childhood frolics in the peach orchard. Other odors, instantaneous and fleeting, cause my heart to dilate joyously or contract with remembered grief. Even as I think of smells, my nose is full of scents that start awake sweet memories of summers gone and ripening fields far away.”


Field Day is available to buy in store at Maven and online here.




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