Page 28

ILLUMINATING Inspiration It must have felt like history repeating itself for Tony Sykes while trying to secure work for his 22-year-old daughter, Emma, with his late wife having previously struggled to secure a preschool for their daughter, who has Down syndrome. Though the doting dad understands potential employers’ apprehensions about employing Emma, what most disappointed him was that most didn’t even acknowledge the applications. So, Tony decided to set her up with her own candlemaking business, called Downlights, established under the guidance of luxury Kiwi candle company Illumina. “Tony would often light fragranced candles when cooking or having a barbecue in the yard, and Emma would always say ‘fire’ when they were lit, she was mesmerised by them,” says Illumina founder Jennifer Del Bel. “Also, whenever they went into shops, Emma would stop to smell the candles, quite a typical girly thing, really.”

Syndrome Association. “It was incredibly coincidental and fabulously wonderful! Emma also loves helping to choose the final fragrance, and if it gets the thumbs down from her, then we don’t run with it.” Jennifer beams about “incredible changes” she’s witnessed in her protégé. “This young woman struggled to raise her eyes to look at new people when I first her,” she says. “She would hold on to Tony’s hand the entire time, would not leave his side and barely spoke a word. When she first began working with myself and my daughter, Mia, Emma needed to be helped with certain tasks like positioning the wicks, but now she’s an independent woman who works on her own and easily interacts with strangers at PR events. Her true personality now shines through.”

From glassware suppliers to fragrance developers, Illumina has developed a wealth of invaluable connections home and abroad that have aided Downlights’ rise. “We knew that we had a strong business story,” says Jennifer, “and we wanted a ‘classic’ range—an unchangeable glass with an eye-catching colour scheme in the logo.”

Such is Emma’s confidence that she now even rides the ferry to the city from Pine Harbour alone.

Serendipitously, Jennifer and Tony opted for purple and orange as the base colours of the brand, not realising they were also the colours used by the New Zealand Down

I ask Jennifer what she has learnt from Emma, and, admitting to “being a bit of a busy beaver” she says most definitely “patience!”: “Emma reminds me to slow down, enjoy the

“This is how much she has changed in just seven months. How privileged am I to be part of this journey, to see this one loving individual become the best person she can be?”

V ERV E M AGA ZIN E .CO.N Z

Profile for Verve Magazine

Verve. March 2019. Issue 153.  

Auckland's Favourite Free Lifestyle Magazine. Verve is brimful with great design, fashion, beauty, health, fine food and wine, lifestyle, tr...

Verve. March 2019. Issue 153.  

Auckland's Favourite Free Lifestyle Magazine. Verve is brimful with great design, fashion, beauty, health, fine food and wine, lifestyle, tr...