Who doesn't love discovering a new candle? It's is one of my favorite gifts to give. But as someone with a sensitive snout, I'm picky about what I burn and what I give to others. Lucky for me a few years back I discovered P.F. Candle Co.'s Teakwood and Tobacco scent and since then it's faithfully burned every night on my bedside table. This week we chatted with P.F. Candle Co. founder, Kristen Pumphrey, about all the thought that goes into her candle scents—as well as our mutual love for cheese.
1. What do you do to treat yourself?
I love going to the cheese shop at Grand Central Market in downtown and getting a bunch of different cheeses, crackers, and spreads. Other than cheese treats, it’s also a treat to go camping and get off the grid for a couple days. I love waking up in a sleeping bag, haha!
2. What’s the best gift you’ve ever gotten or given?
My mom gave me a sewing machine for my 20th birthday, and it’s gotten a lot of use. I love that it’s a gift that gives you the ability to make something - so the gift has a purpose further than the initial “gift giving" one.
3. What were you doing before P.F. Candle Co.?
Before I founded Pommes Frites in 2008, I was working at a craft magazine in New York. It was 2008, right before the recession hit, and the magazine ended up folding. I took it as an opportunity to follow my dream of becoming a maker, and moved to Austin shortly after that.
4. What was the hardest thing about starting your own business?
There was a point I came to when I felt like giving up, when I was scrapping to make ends meet while Tom was in school. We were living off the meager amount the business brought in and student loans. It challenged me to think about if I really wanted to own my own business - or even if I should. During the holidays, things were fine, but the rest of the year was incredibly challenging. I started to consider looking elsewhere for employment, because I didn’t know if P.F. would be able to support me. Things coalesced at the beginning of 2013 - I got an order that was big enough to sustain me for a couple months, then another, then another, and it snowballed until we got picked up by our first national retailer mid-2013. That’s when Tom came on board, and the rest is history.
5. How do you develop new scents for candles + diffusers?
I work closely with our Production Manager, Carly, and my husband/business partner Tom to develop most of the scents. Sometimes we will have very specific ideas in mind for a scent - say, our Golden Coast and Mojave, which were inspired by two California habitats. Sometimes, we just sniff oils we have on hand and free-form our inspiration. There’s always some story behind why a scent is developed, however. Even one like Patchouli Sweetgrass - I usually say “it just smelled good!”, but in reality, what led me to pick a sweetgrass scent is that it reminds me of growing up. We always visited Charleston, SC in the summer and shopped at this giant market in the center of town, where vendors would sell these (incredibly fragrant) sweetgrass baskets.
6. In your city of Los Angeles, what’s your favorite spot to grab a bite to eat and why?
I love going to Grand Central Market in downtown Los Angeles and getting food from the different stalls and shops there. It has taco stands that have been around for ages, right along side the aforementioned cheese shop, the best bagels I’ve found in Los Angeles (Wexler’s Deli), Texas-style BBQ (Horse Thieves), pizza, and excellent coffee. You could make a whole morning, or afternoon, or day, out of exploring that area!