When she began the business in 2011, owner, creator and chief candle maker Hodgkinson set the warm wax into glass jars but has since moved to ceramics.
“I wanted these to be more than just candles,” she said. “I wanted them to be art.”
Art they are. Each is hand-poured into a ceramic jar that is designed by Hodgkinson, thrown by potters in Norman and Oklahoma City and hand-glazed by Hodgkinson and her mother, Marilyn.
One of her biggest helpers, Marilyn does a lot, though on Oui’s last shipment night, she called out from another room, “Ang! Come read your handwriting for me.” The candle collections are as unique as Hodgkinson’s penmanship. She works now with hand-dyed clay wedged with white clay to create a swirled effect.
This technique is based on the Japanese neriage, or agateware, which has layers of color resembling the pattern of ornamental agate stone.
Made from U.S.-grown soy and natural oils that Hodgkinson handmixes, scents include rose-patchouli and cedarwood-rosemary-vanilla.
The pottery glazes also are foodsafe, so each vessel may be reused.
Both refined and fashionable as well as strong and functional, Oui candles draw from Hodgkinson’s love of French and Japanese art and cultures.
“The shape of the vessel is basically a Japanese teacup,” she said.
“I appreciate the strength and simplicity there. The French influence is less tangible. It’s more about romance — not in a lovey-dovey way — but in an open, refined and natural way. You see it in French clothing, homes and their life. That’s what I want to create for people.”
Hodgkinson also hopes to have her own brick-and-mortar store, too. Until then, she occupies pop-up shops and other spaces as they become available.
Crediting her family background and time spent in New York City for the success of Oui, Hodgkinson said, “Every woman in my family made their own clothes. So I already had a design background there. Interviewing fashion designers for 7 years straight in New York taught me how to build a brand.”
Hodgkinson, under Oui, recently designed all visual aspects of a New Orleans wedding, from the printed materials on each table to the dreamily draped flags overhead.
“My work is not just about candles. I like the concept of saying yes to life,” she said. “And ‘oui,’ is French for ‘yes.’ Candles are just the start, I hope.”
Find Oui goods locally at Perch’d (14 NW Ninth St.) and online at at bonjouroui.com.