The Dudes Getting Nude For Charity

Meet the Fitzroy trio going nude in the name of charity, candles, and a good wick joke.

Chris Bateman and Ryan Underwood at their photo shoot. Photo by Charli Marden.

‘I’ve seen more bums in the last seven months than most women might see in a lifetime’, says an exasperated Carly, laughing under her breath. Don’t get too excited, though – the cheeks she’s been looking at belong to her brother, Chris Bateman, and husband, Ryan Underwood.

‘[Ryan and Chris] are very comfortable being nude around each other’, Carly jokes, referring to the hours the pair have spent in their birthday suit taking photos for Instagram and selling candles at markets around the city (albeit wearing aprons). While the boys might look polished in the buff, Carly is quick to take credit for the time spent waxing them and sprucing them up with fake tan (and rightfully so).

Between the risqué poses and wick jokes, at the heart of the shenanigans lies the trio’s business: Nude Dude Candles. A Fitzroy outfit run from their home (all three share a house together), selling 100% soy wax candles in a range of enticing scents such as lemongrass and ginger, toasted marshmallow and classic vanilla bean. They’re vegan products too, eschewing the paraffin and carcinogens that appear in mainstream candles for a more environmentally-friendly and healthier product. However, it’s the label’s signature scent, the Mandle (aka The Lumberjack), that really captures what their about.

‘Chris has a very weird but loveable obsession with candles.’ Ryan says. For Chris, lighting a candle is a throwback to his childhood. ‘Mum would light candles when we were growing up and the smell of them really takes me back to that comfort,’ Chris tells us, adding, ‘now each night before I go to bed I’ll light three tea lights and a big one’.

Chris is unabashed about his love for candles, telling Local Eyes that the brand is about showing how enjoying candles shouldn’t be confined to women. By nuding up, Ryan and Chris are very cheekily showing that men can, do and should love candles too. While the candles are touted in most western countries as a luxury to help create a little romance or unwind at the end of the day, candles can also play a spiritual role in places such as Cambodia – a country that is close to their heart.

‘… Already you can see how many lives we’ve changed. It’s incredibly humbling.’ – Ryan Underwood.

The apple pie scented Nude Dude Candle.

‘When we started doing this, the charity focus was a huge part of it for us,’ says Chris. ‘We wouldn’t have started if we didn’t think we wanted to do it for the long term and make it our lives, and that meant giving back to the community in some way. We wanted to work with charities we could support and help grow at the same pace as us.’

For this reason they’ve sought out charities that are making an impact either locally or overseas, and donating 10% of their profits to help them succeed. The causes range from providing swags and supplies to the homeless, to more established charities such as the Good Friday Appeal. Every three months Nude Dude Candles rotates charities to make sure the love is shared around.

One charity that caught their eye was Happy Kids Cambodia Inc, a small group dedicated to supporting Jimmy’s Village School in Siem Reap. The founder and head teacher of the school, Jimmy, has dedicated his life to teaching English at a makeshift kindergarten just outside his home. He makes ends meet driving a tuk tuk, stopping to teach at his school in the afternoon, before returning to his tuk tuk and driving until the early morning. Inspired by Jimmy’s passion, and fuelled by a late-night impulse, the trio bought last minute airfares to Cambodia. They visited the school and taught the kids how to make soy wax candles, purchased supplies for the school, and filmed a documentary.

‘It’s a really humbling feeling knowing that we’ve helped put an idea like this into practice,’ says Chris. Ryan adds: ‘We usually add a little note with each candle we sell, saying “we’re changing the world one candle at a time”. The more awareness we can raise about these charities the better, and this will only improve as we continue growing as well. Already you can see how many lives we’ve changed. It’s incredibly humbling.’

Nude Dude Candles will be hosting a charity launch party on Friday 7 October at Easey’s in Collingwood. Carly, Chris and Ryan will be unveiling a new candle scent and premiering their Cambodian documentary on the night. All proceeds from ticket sales will be donated to Pay A Sack Forward. To purchase tickets to the launch, or to learn more about Nude Dude Candles, visit their website.

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