Since P. F. Candle Co.’s founding in 2008, there’s been a lot of moves. Starting with Kristen’s move from Brooklyn to Austin, followed by her and Tom’s Austin-to-LA relocation: the need for more square footage as the company grows comes as no surprise. From 2013-2015, we were pouring candles for national retailers like Urban Outfitters, CB2, and Steven Alan out of just 1300 sq. ft. It's safe to say that there was little wiggle room. Now, in 2016, we’re pouring thousands of candles daily, as well as a line of reed diffusers and room sprays, for our national accounts and roster of independent boutiques. The comparison from P.F.’s old home-base in the LA's Arts District to our current Boyle Heights HQ pays homage to our DIY roots. Here, Founder and Creative Director, Kristen, takes a trip down memory lane.
I took this photo right when we got the keys to our arts district studio - all 1300 sq feet of it! The only thing we brought with us? Our 50 lb melter that we called Rosie. I always love this photo, it’s so empty and full of promise.
In late 2013, this was our entire inventory - about 400 candles. We cycled through inventory in about a week, as that’s all our space allowed us to store.
These days, our inventory is just slightly increased - with the holidays upon us, we have over 65,000 units on these shelves ready to go out to our wholesalers and online shoppers.
Tom was our production master. He took my dreams and made systems for them - revolutionizing the way we poured, the way we cleaned, and whipping me into shape. Something we’re insanely proud of that hasn’t changed a bit - how tidy we are when we pour.
Carly, who's loading a rack of candles in our old space in this photo, started with us as a part-time production assistant, and two years later is our Production Manager. She oversees production, making sure they hit quotas, are keeping up QC standards, and helps me develop new product.
Photo courtesy of Jack Struz
We now have a production team of about 14 people. Every day, we melt over 800 pounds of soy wax. We add in our custom fragrance blends, get to pouring and turn all that wax into thousands of candles.
We used to hand-label every single candle. Once candles were poured and set, they would then wait to be labeled at the labeling tables by one of our team members.
One of our first major orders was for West Elm, in 2013 - we made a custom label for them (second photo above). The order was about 4000 units, which we filled in five weeks. We only took one day off! This was right after Tom and I got back from our honeymoon - a great way to celebrate a new marriage, haha! We made it through the order, drank a couple beers, then dove right into the holidays.
Up until summer 2014, we were still labeling by hand. We ramped up production, and decided to get a machine to help. We were still only labeling one candle at a time up until Fall 2015, when we invested on this industrial labeling machine that labels hundreds of candles at a time! Each candle is labeled, inspected, lidded and boxed all right here by our labeling team.
The light at the end of the day in our old studio was spectacular. In this picture, there are about 600 candles cooling on these racks- the maximum we were able to pour and cool in our old space. We switched to the racks because of a space issue - we needed something that was movable and vertically organized.The vibe of the studio back then is something that hasn’t changed. We’re always blasting music, and people can either “plug in” and listen to their own music or podcast, or will have lots of good conversations across the pouring table.
Since we pour so many candles daily now, we needed an easy way to stay organized. The colored circle stickers you see on the racks indicate which wax melter was used for that batch, so that we never lose track of what tray holds which scent.
Our old labeling station and shipping in the background. Back in the day, after I was done processing sales orders, I would ship all of our e-commerce and boutique orders. We all wore a lot of hats.
Our shipping and e-comm team is now made up of 6 members, making sure our online customers and wholesale stockists get exactly what they need, when they need it. If you've ever ordered from our online shop, this is where the goods are packed up and shipped out!
This is the Creative Office, where our production and marketing teams work on new products, packaging and design.
Every studio needs a shop dog. Here's Max, taking a snooze under our giant factory windows. We had a view overlooking downtown, and watched many a sunset there during late nights.
Some things never change. Whether he's sun-basking, sleeping, or running around the office, you can always find Max around the studio. He's even got his own hashtag.
We didn’t start out with money for flashy equipment or beautiful tables - we just used what we had, like hand-me-downs from our old apartment. (Photo courtesy of Jack Struz)
As you can see, we've really come a long way - but it doesn't stop here! Every day we strive to come up with new ways to improve and grow our business, whether it's a new marketing approach or developing a product we've never made before. Keep up with us here and on Instagram to see what we're up to.
Virginia Dempsey says...
Amazing! Thank you for sharing.
As a new candle maker in Australia myself, its inspiring to see success stories such as yours and appreciate all the hard work that goes into it.
Your work space is fabulous!
April 13, 2017
Trevor Brown says...
Wow! This is an awesome post! Thanks so much for sharing. Looking at the THEN and NOW is a total inspiration to small business owners like myself. I am a huge fan and looking forward to seeing what new posts you create.
November 11, 2016
And to think this started with a metal pot on the stove when you were a teenager. Such an inspiration. ? So proud of your hard work and accomplishments! ?
November 10, 2016
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