“Luxury through circularity and zero waste.”
What seems like opposing ideas have been combined into a beautiful product by Phena London.
Enjoy light, freshly scented candles that can stimulate and relax you. Experience candles that smell like heaven, but are made with earthly 100% transformed waste cooking oil. Hand poured in small batches, these generous, 50-hour burn time candles also come in eco-conscious packaging. Each candle’s unique flavour arises from a blend of natural essential oils. With every purchase of a Phena London candle, you give a food industry waste byproduct a second, fiery life.
Today, Founder Patricia Romero tells her story of how it started and shares her thoughts on personal growth and beauty.
Describe the moment that birthed the idea for Phena London.
I’ve always been interested in sustainability and have always had business ideas crop up. One of the major aspects of sustainability is the circular economy, and when I was on my way home one day I started playing out in my mind products that could be made from upcycled materials but aren’t yet. Candles were something that seemed so obvious yet when I searched online for recycled candles hardly anything came up. That’s when I started to develop the idea of using waste oil from restaurants and making the connection between two industries.
What was the vision for the brand?
I wanted to create something new but using what’s already circulating in the economy. I fully believe that we currently have too many products and trash out in the world, and we will need to start getting more and more creative about how we can reuse waste. But even more importantly, we need to rethink how waste is seen, and that it can be turned into something beautiful and functional with the right processes. That’s the vision for Phena London—a luxury candle brand that puts less pressure on natural resources through reuse and repurposing.
What’s a defining piece of feedback you’ve had about the brand that validated what you’re doing?
Products made from waste can be a divisive topic—people either love the idea or hate it. But when you find someone who understands the vision, it is very empowering and exciting. And it’s not that people simply love the waste element. When they see the candle in person, they get a feel for the fragrance, which is made from natural essential oils, and the recycled packaging that’s also premium. These elements are important in bringing the product to life, as conscious consumers looking for sustainable options don’t want to compromise on quality.
How has your upbringing influenced who you are today?
When growing up, I think most people internalise their parents’ behaviour more than they realise, and there’s a reason why many of us say we eventually turn into our mother or father! My mother is possibly one of the most inspiring eco-warriors on the planet. She grew up in a small village in Portugal that was pretty much self-sustainable until the late 60s. Many of the practices she learnt as a child she still cherishes—from creating and mending clothes to growing her own vegetables. Through her, I’m a true believer in zero food waste and adopt this ethos to other parts of my life too. It’s clearly had an impact on my business goals as well.
What’s been the most valuable beauty advice you’ve received?
I have big curly hair. Being of Uruguayan and Portuguese heritage but growing up in Belgium, I never knew how to handle it and often felt pressured into straightening it and I also had a phase of relaxing it (this was pre-Youtube tutorial days, which taught me so much and changed the way I perceived the way I looked). Status quo beauty ideals can be very damaging for hair, but also for young people’s self-esteem. I only started to appreciate what I had when I discovered others who looked like me and were embracing their natural curls.
I’d say the best piece of advice I’ve ever received and slowly came to embrace is to not fight what you were naturally gifted. Nature will always win the fight no matter how hard you try to tackle it. So embrace what you were born with and find the products that will enhance your natural beauty. We’re so lucky to live in a time where small businesses are innovating in terms of products for different types of needs—we just need to find the right ones that will help us feel our best.
Describe your beauty routine and the one product you can’t live without.
Since the pandemic started I’ve gone make-up free most days, so my beauty routine is centred around skincare and haircare. I’d say I could never go without my curl creams—they define not just my hair but also how good I look and feel!
What does beauty mean to you?
Feeling comfortable in your own skin and embracing your heritage.
What has your role at Phena London taught you about yourself?
It’s taught me that it’s worth pursuing something that you’ve been thinking of doing for some time. If you’re not sure about where to start, start anywhere. Learn and connect with like-minded people who will pull you onwards on your journey.
Who inspires you most in either life, beauty, fashion or music?
I wouldn’t say it comes down to one person. We each have an ecosystem of people who mould us into who we are. Life-wise, my close friends and partner inspire me every day, and my parents have a work ethos that is unparalleled.
Music is an easy one. My sister @guitarbaby is also one of my biggest inspirations and teachers. She has pursued her dream of becoming a music producer back in Uruguay and is pushing musical boundaries in Latin America. She’s taught me that you can break boundaries and expectations, and is of course now my music curator for all things new and upcoming.
Curated for you, the world & our future. Yuty is rooted in sustainability— which means social equity + reducing waste, leaving the world in a better place for future generations. This is why our panel of experts curates brands that align with your values, while preserving product efficacy. Learn more about the Yuty manifesto and values.