TRUDON — Founded 1643
Imagine the flex of being the Royal Wax Manufacturer.
Now it may not be that awe-inspiring today, but when the world (and France in particular) was lit by candlelight, Trudon, the world’s oldest candlemaker held that revered distinction. Still, it was a humble beginning.
Claude Trudon opened a storefront in 1643 on rue Saint Honoré in Paris where he sold spices and candles. Under Louis XIV’s reign, his son Jacques took over and ultimately bought a manufacturing facility in Antony, just south of Paris, where they were quietly upending the candle-making world by switching the raw material from animal fat and oils to beeswax. The change made burning candles smell better and last longer.
Soon Trudon became the official apothecary and distiller of Queen Marie-Thèrese at Versailles. (all 700 rooms). Maison Trudon then supplied the Royal Court of France under Louis XV and the most prominent churches in France.
But it wasn’t until 2007, that Trudon embarked on its most sought-after item, the scented candle. Now before you go ‘ew, like the place in the mall candle?’ Stop. Trudon is in a class of its own. The scents are complex and completely intoxicating and bonus, they do not even create soot or smoke.
Here’s the process (you know how I love a process).
Trudon’s fragrances are the result of collaboration with France’s top perfumeries. They choose the raw materials, test the formula then mix it with wax.
All Trudon candles are handmade in Normandy, France. First, the wicks are set at the bottom of each glass so that they stay perfectly centered. The glasses are then aligned on wooden forms.
Right after the molten wax is mixed with the perfume, it is poured by hand.
When the wax is poured, the all-cotton wicks slightly bend inside the glass. So they must be straightened by hand to ensure they stay perfectly centered.
Finally, the candles are “surfaced” which means that the top is slightly melted to make sure the surface is perfectly smooth. The wick is then cut at a specific height to ensure an optimal first burning.
Trudon is unique in our exploration of seriously old companies because it’s not about the business. It’s about candles.
People used to buy candles for functionality, but those days are long gone. Most people (it’s 96 percent women, BTW) buy a candle because of the scent and because of the mood it creates. You have a candle that smells like leather and pipe tobacco, and it feels studious. Buy one that’s perfumed, maybe it gets people in the mood for love.
Candles also occupy a dwindling list of products that do better in a brick-and-mortar setting. Obviously, you can’t smell anything on the internet. Even cars that used to only be available in person, today are easier to buy online.
So it’s a product category that requires a few old-fashioned ideas. Foot traffic. Impeccable quality, setting a sensory mood and delivering an elegant experience. Trudon has done that for almost four hundred years.
Fun fact: There’s an aftermarket for Trudon’s glass containers on eBay.
P.S. I’m partial to “Solis Rex” which has a scent reminiscent of Versailles’ wooden floors. My birthday is in September.