Meet the nose behind candle company Abbey Rose

The moment you step inside Mary Gordon's inner city Auckland home the aroma of honey, spice and red roses is hypnotic. Editor Trudi Brewer takes you on a tour of Abbey Rose HQ.

Mary Gordon at home with her west highland white terriers Dougal and Rebus.

Mary Gordon at home with her west highland white terriers Dougal and Rebus.

Mary Gordon is unstoppable, a few hours in her company and you start to feel a little like an underachiever. This petite blonde manages to juggle more than one business, including her new venture, Abbey Rose. With a passion for design and beauty, it was inevitable Gordon would put her exquisite flare for luxury into a feminine business for women to enjoy – including herself. Trudi Brewer steps into the scented world of candle company Abbey Rose.

How did you create Abbey Rose?
I created Abbey Rose because I wanted an environmentally friendly, soy candle that had a luxury look and feel for my home. It is important to me that the candles I burn don’t give off potentially toxic fumes. My preference is New Zealand made, and I found candles I had purchased sent my sinuses into overdrive, or I couldn’t smell them after the first couple of burns. So out of sheer frustration and disappointment, I decided to create a product that satisfied my requirements. 


Where did you find your inspiration?
I knew what I wanted, but couldn’t find it on the market, so went on a quest to develop the Abbey Rose range of candles, diffusers and room sprays. And my inspiration came from my love of design and beautiful things.

Describe your brand in three words?
Luxury, sophisticated, handmade

What’s a typical working day for you?
I start work at 7.30am each day and usually leave the office around 5.30pm. Once I’m at home, I work for an hour or so in the evening on Abbey Rose.
What has been your career high to date?
It would have to be establishing and developing, Abbey Rose.

What's on trend for home fragrance right now?
Given we are heading into winter, spicy, musky fragrances are very popular.

How should you use candles in your everyday life?
I think candles are emotive, and it’s really up to the individual how and when they use them. For me, it’s every day. I light them when I get home from work in my kitchen, living areas, bedroom and ensuite. I love walking from one room, being engulfed in fragrance. I find this incredibly relaxing and welcoming to have my home filled with beautiful scents.  

Any tips on candle care?
Always ensure when you first burn your candle that you burn to the edge before blowing it out. And don’t trim the wick too short.

What makes a great table setting?
It all starts with candles and flowers. Nothing compares to the flickering of a candle flame to create a relaxing, luxurious and opulent environment. My tip would be taking a little extra care in how you set the table, it goes a long way to creating a special evening.

What's your secret to entertaining well?
I always plan ahead and ensure there is plenty of food and wine so that guests don’t feel as if they are on rations. My husband and I love to entertain at home; it’s important that your guest’s feel relaxed and welcome, and most importantly you're having fun.

Mary at home.

How would you describe your home?
An inviting calm oasis in the heart of the Auckland city.

What’s the best home styling advice you’ve picked up along the way?
I always buy good quality furniture and pieces; you can live with for a very long time. I don’t tend to follow trends as they date. If you want to change the look of your room, do it with new cushions and throws. Flowers and candles go a long way to styling your home and creating a welcoming ambience.

What would you never compromise on?

Your passions are interiors and fashion, who are your favourite designers?
For interior designers, Axel Vervoordt and Ralph Lauren. When it comes to fashion, Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel and Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen. Locally, I wear lots of Trelise Copper and Adrienne Winkelmann.

Mary's collection of vintage and new designer cuffs, wardrobe and beauty must haves.

What does beauty mean to you?
Beauty comes from within, with a combination of feeling great about yourself and having confidence - along with a positive can do attitude. Also caring enough to look after your health by exercising and eating a balanced diet, all that equates to real beauty. 

What is your favourite fragrance?
In my candle range, it’s Noir, which is a fruity floral blend of black orchids, berries, sandalwood and vanilla.

What do you always have on your bedside table?
Candle, flowers, and a book.

What would we always find in your beauty bag?
Mecca's Line & Prime for lips, lipsticks and gloss.

Best beauty advice?
Opt for a natural makeup look and switch from wearing foundation to a BB cream, as you get older. The lighter consistency doesn’t clog your pores or highlight wrinkles, the way a heavy foundation can.