We're kicking off Women's History Month right! This interview with Nevada City's Kitkitdizzi celebrates the amazing women that keep P.F. Candle Co. going. Co-owner Carrie talks shop history, self-sufficiency and how female empowerment fuels each day in the shop.
Who are you & where are you from?
I’m Carrie Hawthorne, and with my partner and best friend, Kira Westly, I run Kitkitdizzi in the beautiful small town of Nevada City, California. We’re both single moms, with two kids each. We’ve been best friends for 35 years and business partners for four years.
What are your hobbies?
I have always had a very deep appreciation for the arts and for the artist’s struggle. I would never call myself an artist, but I have played around with many mediums. Kira has always been a collector of objects, both old and new, and the two of us really love history, especially local history.
Currently into: Politics, finding ways to make a local impact, communal living, land preservation, healing, self-care, Waldorf, stained glass, dogs.
How do your hobbies inspire/relate to your shop?
Completely. The only rule that we have had concerning what we pick is that we both have to love it. We cannot sell what we don’t love. We pick things that we would both want ourselves, and things that we feel are an appropriate reflection of our community and our natural surroundings.
Tell us some shop history:
The original owner, Jennifer Sheffield, opened Kitkitdizzi in the spring of 2012. Jen employed both of us, Kira and me, when she decided to sell the shop to us after her first year. We loved it as though it were already ours and felt ready to build something together that would sustain us. We had always toyed with the idea of a shop in our hometown and we both needed something that offered us the flexibility to parent.
Does the Nevada City location play a part in the shop’s identity?
We both grew up in Nevada City, and our tastes were formed by these surroundings. Locals make about 60% of our product, so our shop can’t help but reflect Nevada City. As far as the other products we bring in, although our town is a huge tourist destination, it’s the locals we’re buying for.
What goes into the process of curating the shop?
It’s a process of careful picking concerning the product, and with the help of our hero and dear friend/designer, Nikiya Schwarz, we have created a very specific aesthetic. Nikiya has been with Kitkitdizzi since its original inception and we really love locking the door, tearing the shop apart, and rebuilding. She is an excellent merchandiser, taking very specific care in showcasing each product.
How do you choose what you carry?
Kira and I use a few guidelines when picking product. We love small companies, items that are handmade with love, and thoughtfulness concerned with human, animal, and environmental ethics. Our first rule is that we both have to agree. We have to love it and want it ourselves.
What can a brand or maker do to get their product on Kitkitdizzi’s shelves?
The best way is to email a description and photos of your product to email@example.com.
What do you look for in new hires/team members?
The most important thing to us is that they feel like family, since they are going to be hanging around all the time. It goes without saying that we look for people with a deep appreciation for art and makers. They need to be genuine and be able to speak to the value behind buying locally, and buying small batch/small business. It’s when someone is asked to sell something they don’t love, or believe in, that makes sales feel false and pushy.
What empowers you the most about being a female business owner?
Probably the same thing that empowers any business owner: the idea of being self-sufficient. Knowing that we manifest our own income, and put meals on our tables through our own work. Kira and I have both, at times, in our adult lives, relied on someone else for money/survival. It’s important to us that we show our children that we can be independent and not compromise our own values to survive.
Do you have any advice to women dreaming of one day opening their own shop?
My advice would be to do it; just be very clear about your vision. Don’t let fear guide your decisions. Know that it will most likely be a labor of love for a while before it becomes something that supports you. Consider how it will/can nurture you in other ways rather than just financially. If you have someone that you trust and love enough to partner with, that’s even better. Kira and I take turns having each other’s back when one feels tired or weak, and we keep each other in check when making decisions about the directions we choose to take.
Which female leaders/business owners inspire you daily?
Rachel Budde, the creator and owner of Fat & the Moon, moved to Nevada City about a year and half ago. From the very first moment we met, she has been actively healing us. Since then, we have totally fallen for her. We have always admired her business integrity, the quality of her product, her ever-developing knowledge and deep love for plant medicine, her personal strength and independence, and now, after her home just burnt completely to the ground, we are seeing her amazing resilience. She is a complete inspiration.
My business partner/best friend, Kira, has such a refined eye and a tireless ability to search and find beautiful things. She has the biggest heart of anyone I know and she does everything with such thoughtful intent. She is smart, independent, and comes from the strongest stock I’ve known. She throws everything she has into our business and still manages to be an incredible, loving mother.
How did you find out about P.F. Candle Co.?
We found P.F. Candles on Instagram about four years ago. It was the first product line we picked up when we took over ownership of Kitkitdizzi and they get a lot of credit for the success of our first Christmas season as shop owners.
What made you decide to make us a part of your shop?
We wanted a soy candle with scents that were not typical, and the packaging of P.F. candles really can’t be beat.
What’s your favorite scent?
Mine is Teakwood & Tobacco (I always tell people that it smells like a handsome man sitting in his library, in his favorite leather chair, smoking a pipe), while Kira’s favorite is Patchouli Sweetgrass.
Shop Teakwood & Tobacco
Shop Patchouli Sweetgrass
Thanks so much to Carrie, Kira and the Kitkitdizzi team for letting us in on your success! Keep up with the shop on Instagram, or visit their online shop. Kitkitdizzi is located at 219 Broad Street, Nevada City CA 95959.