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October 27, 2021
About the founder
Jo Montebello is the founder and creator of Burlesque Candles and Diffusers. She was born and bred in Australia to Maltese parents. Jo’s background is in fashion, luxury skincare and fragrance, having started her career as a fashion model and later becoming a makeup artist. It was a natural progression for her to move into sales, marketing and promotions with skincare and makeup brands such as Clarins, Laura Mercier, as well as a large portfolio of French fragrance brands. Jo had spent many years living in Malta as a child and was always keen to return one day. In 2012, she moved here and brought the Burlesque business with her. Luckily, the Maltese people loved her products as much as the Australians! Jo has two grown up daughters, one works as a Publicist in Australia and has also created an exclusive range of candles which are sold in selected international outlets. The other is involved in the health and beauty industry and runs a content and marketing agency. Both girls have been influenced by Jo’s work and lifestyle and are independent and business savvy young women. They are without a doubt, Jo’s greatest achievement ahead of Burlesque!
When and how did Burlesque Candles commence?
Burlesque Candles came about because of Jo’s love of fine luxury scented soy candles. She found herself spending a fortune on them and so decided to try her hand at making her own… The first attempts were not very encouraging, but after many failures, the products started to resemble the professional ones she loved so much. She started giving them to friends as Christmas gifts and when they would ask to purchase more of them, she knew she was on to a good thing! Burlesque Candles started in Australia in 2008 and launched in Malta in 2013 where it quickly became sought after in local artisan markets and now online too.
What is the story behind the name?
The name may seem a bit random, Burlesque is known as the alluring and saucy dance performance acts that have been so popular since the 1920’s. I have always loved pin up girl icons and wanted to create a brand that symbolises women, in all their glory and splendour. Once I decided on the name ‘Burlesque’ I came up with the idea of giving each and every fragrance its own Burlesque dancer’s name. Some names are taken from real life performers like ‘Dita’ after Dita Von Teese, others are named after my own family members… ‘Ivy May’ was my mum’s name! Finding the imagery was the next step and I am lucky to have a very dear friend who is an excellent graphic designer. Together we created the feminine illustrations, and he also created the beautiful fonts and artwork.
What is the procedure for creating the candles?
It has been incredibly important for me that Burlesque embodies natural, safe and chemical free ingredients. Only soy wax, rather than paraffin wax, is used in the candles, this is non-toxic and gentle to the environment as well as the skin, and although more expensive, is without a doubt the best ingredient for candles. The fragrances are made from a blend of essential oils and candle fragrance which are made to blend perfectly with the soy wax. This winning formula creates a more consistent and intense aroma, ensuring that the environment is infused with natural yet intense fragrance for hours. Soy wax burns so incredibly slowly, so our smallest candle, which is 100ml, burns for 20 hours and the largest, 300ml, for 60 hours.
Do you promote eco-friendly practices?
The environment was another factor of great importance to us. Burlesque products are 98% recyclable, in fact, we urge customers to bring their bottles and jars back to refill or use them as containers for other purposes. Our wicks are made from organic cotton, and all packaging is made from paper, cardboard and reusable organza bags. Unfortunately, most of our ingredients come from abroad, but where possible, materials such as the jars and lids are locally sourced. We are also mindful of the carbon footprint when choosing shipping methods.
What do you love about your work?
Making candles and diffusers is my ultimate happy time. As a creative person, I have always immersed myself in artistic pursuits such as make up artistry and writing. However, when I started to work with my hands and create these beautiful Burlesque products from start to finish, I realised I had found my passion in life. I often spend hours immersed in candle making, and I love every second of the process!
What do you visualise for Burlesque Candles moving forward?
My aim is to continue developing new fragrances and products in keeping with the high quality that has made the brand so desirable and popular. Last year, Burlesque launched its own Shopify website, mainly because our local markets and fairs had to close due to Covid. The online side of the business has grown rapidly with most sales coming in through social media such as Facebook and Instagram, both connected to my website. In 2018, a new range of luxury scented diffusers were added to the range, and in 2020 the company started production of Soy Wax Melts, both new additions have been eagerly accepted by our regular customers as well as attracting new ones. Later this year I will be launching a new range called ‘Supermodels’. It will consist of four AMAZING new fragrances as well as exciting, colourful and sassy packaging created by a young local Maltese artist. Stay tuned…