Sales of candles have skyrocketed, in the past decade, to become an over $2 billion industry here in the United States. They’re sold everywhere- through gift, specialty, drug/mass retailers, and purchased almost exclusively (90%) by women. Candles are a go to gift for many of us, often an indulgence that we won’t justify for ourselves but love to give to others.
Candles can bring a little respite after a hard day’s work or help set the tone for a relaxed evening entertaining friends. Nine out of ten candle users use them for just that; to make a room feel cozy or welcoming to guests. The varieties are endless, these days, and the designs often divine. Candles can range in price from 50 cents to over $200, depending on the brand, and can consist of paraffin, soy, beeswax, gel and palm oil waxes. Personally, I tend to gravitate towards clean burning, sweet smelling soy candles. Penelope Candles, one of my latest discoveries, brings all my favorite things together into one simplistically gorgeous package.
I first noticed Penelope while browsing the carefully curated gifts at Fleetwood’s on Front Street in Maui. The packaging drew me in and Penelope’s fragrances turned me into a fan. My top pick is the complex Flannel Shirt for it’s subtle leather, cedar and black tea notes. It’s not easy to create memorable fragrances that bring a unique point of view, but Penelope’s founder, Christine Robertson, does just that.
We caught up with Christine, a modern day alchemist, hard at work in her Oakland, CA studio, to tell us more about the packaging, fragrance direction and overall magic that goes into each Penelope candle. Right by her side, her Boston Terrier, Penelope, Christine’s muse and inspiration.
Can you tell us how Penelope Candles got started?
Christine Robertson (CR)- Penelope got started summer of 2012. I was so tired of spending tons of money on soy candles, I decided to create my own. I spent hours in the kitchen testing different scents, mixing different blends and getting my recipe down. My boyfriend’s brother created the branding and Penelope was born!
We love your cool, minimalist craft packaging- what inspired you to go this direction with your branding?
(CR)- I wanted a minimalist look because I wanted the name to stand out by itself, hence the all caps brand name PENELOPE. The filigree in the background gives it a feminine touch; I had to sprinkle in my girly side.
Can you give us a behind-the-scenes look at how you choose your fragrances?
(CR)- I ordered dozens of different essential/fragrance oils and tested each one by one. I had one box of oils I hated and put those aside. I started testing and experimenting with the oils I liked. I blended the oils that complemented each other and tested the smell in lit candles. The strongest and prettiest scents made it into my signature collection.
Penelope candles use soy wax, 100% cotton wicks and reusable glass tumblers – high quality materials with an eco-friendly edge. Why motivated you to go this direction?
(CR)- I think it’s important to use environmentally friendly products. My goal was to inspire people to really think about what they’re purchasing and how it can affect the environment. At the end of the day, I wanted a high quality product that people would be proud to have in their homes and to give away as gifts.
We first discovered Penelope at Fleetwood’s on Front Street- what are you doing today to help people discover Penelope Candles?
(CR)- Social media and shows! Social media has really boosted my presence in the online world in a profound way. Meeting my customers face to face at shows, where I sell my candles, is fantastic and makes me so happy. You can follow me on Instagram/Twitter @penelopecandles
Finally, any sneak peeks into what’s next for Penelope Candles?
(CR)- I hope to expand into more stores. Currently I’m in 30+ stores all over the US, and my goal is to get to 60 by the end of this year.
A Penelope Candles soy candle can be yours with just a click- check out Christine’s online store here.
Source: National Candle Association