Meet The Maker: Meghan Mansfield, Designer, Orna Candles
We love young and talented people who turned COVID chaos into an opportunity for creativity. Meghan Manfield is one of them. Taking her nail art technique and applying it to candles, she used her skills to create unique and Instagram-worthy products. We sat down with her to discuss what inspired her to start her new businesses, her secrets about nail art, and her new favorite Instagram accounts.
Could you tell us three things about you?
- I am terrible at summarising for these kind of things!
- My background is in fashion buying. I worked as a Buyer up until 2019 (with a tiny break you can read about below). I left to spend more time with my kids
- I work from my home studio in Leigh-on-Sea in Essex and I’m the only person behind the business.
What is the story behind Orna’s hand-painted candles?
I have always worked as a fashion buyer. It was my first job out of uni and I pretty much stayed on the same career path for fifteen years! In 2019 my daughter was starting school and I had a realization that I wanted to see my kids more, having spent a long time at work, commuting, and traveling on business. I decided to retrain as a nail tech (see below!!) and set up business six months before lockdown…
Unfortunately, nail appointments had to stop due to lockdown restrictions. I was out of work, with no grants or benefits available to me so I started to paint my nail designs on homeware for family and friends as Xmas gifts, stars, clementines, mistletoe, fir trees… It suddenly clicked and felt like an ideal opportunity to pivot my business whilst I couldn’t do nails, so I shared my work on my nail Instagram and my nail clients started to place orders and were very supportive of my new business. Then a few days before Christmas Grace Beverley shared one of my candles and it all blew up from there, meaning the business carried on through the new year. Due to the success of the candles, I now work mainly on candles and just do one day of nail appointments mainly to catch up with regulars as it’s nice to have a chat after a week of painting candles on my own.
How much time does it take you to paint your candles?
Depending on design, number of colours and how many I am making in each batch, but a simple design can take 10 mins and a more complicated design can take 30-45 minutes with the layers and number of colours used. For example, my hen design is one of the most time consuming as lots of colours and intricate details.
How and when did you start doing nail art?
It hurts my head a little bit but it was twelve years ago! I was having a career break from buying in 2009 and went to India to have a think about what I wanted to do (as you do) and my friend Sharmadean Reid was always chatting about opening a nail salon specializing in nail art and creating a space never seen in London before.
She needed a manager for the shop in Dalston so I came back from India and did my nail training, I wanted to know as much as I could about nails to offer the best service as a manager. I then learned the art on the job- it was such a creative time, Dalston was on the cusp of changing, new places were popping up and Wah Nails were pushing nail art in a totally new trend direction, and became globally recognized as the innovative leaders in nail art. It was such a fun time experimenting with what we could all put on nails, and creative clients bringing in new ideas! Nothing phased us!
Can you tell us three things people might not know about nail art?
- There is a design for everyone! There are some more sophisticated and understated designs, with maybe a contrast cuff, or tip or a simple dot. Or even playing with contrast between matte and shiny topcoats. It’s a fun way to show your personality and style no matter how you are dressed that day.
- Nail art takes time! If you are looking for something very intricate with lots of colours, be prepared for a 3 hour session!
- It can last around 3 weeks with good aftercare.
What are your favourite designs?
Tortoiseshell has been popular for a really long time and is so fun to do. It suits everyone and comes out a bit different each time. It’s a very satisfying design. I love doing florals and the latest trend for contrast tips and cuffs, finding good colour combos to suit the client.
What have you been most surprised about since starting Orna hand-painted candles?
How much people love candles! Ha!
I think during the lockdown they became such nice gifts to send to people, little tokens with the recipient’s favorite flowers, and letting them know they’re thinking of them. Lighting it and having that little peaceful moment.
Now it’s moved on to dinner parties again so the candle demand has kept up.
What are your favorite design/decoration accounts on Instagram?
Wow, this is so hard as I love so many!
Obviously @Maison_Flâneur excellent curation of beautiful homes. It led me to new accounts I haven’t seen before.