Beck Scougall is scenting up Siem Reap with Saarti, her brand new shop that opened its doors in Kandal Village last Wednesday.
Infused with the aromas of jasmine, ylang ylang, green tea, fig, basil, vetiver and lemongrass, her range of handmade soy wax candles and soaps, toiletries and house fresheners can be found alongside small collections of hand-sewn cushion covers and kimonos, candle holders, bamboo straws – and whatever catches Scougall’s eye for beauty and sustainability.
It started two years ago when the enterprising Australian discovered that ordinary candles are made from the sludge waste made when crude oil is refined into gasoline.
“When you burn paraffin candles, you’re essentially inhaling petrochemicals. I wanted to switch to soy wax, but couldn’t find them anywhere,” she said.
So Scougall started to make her own, scenting them with essential oils and selling them to clients including Sojourn Boutique Villas, Song Saa and Shinta Mani using the name Saarti – a combination of “sa art”, Khmer for beautiful, and “aarti” a Hindu ritual where a candle is offered to a deity.
“I’ve always been obsessed with essential oils and lovely smelling things, so I’m totally in my element when I’m mixing up candles and my other products and playing around with different scents,” she said.
With support from friends, she has taken that passion and taken the plunge, expanding the range of products, which are available in the shop or online, and she will soon be able to develop bespoke ranges for individual clients.
Almost everything is made in Siem Reap, though the essential oils come from Thailand.
Scougall plans to start making them herself soon, as well as creating a station in the shop where people can blend their own.