Are you a great devotee of P.F. Candle ? Or is this only the first time that you have heard of them? In this case, we will make sure that by the end of this interview you become a fan of their products.
P.F. Candle was originally founded by Kristen Pumphrey, who kindly answered our questions. She is a powerful woman and the mother of a beautiful girl-child. She runs the brand based in LA, alongside her husband, forming a winning team together. They are constantly expanding, trying to make themselves recognized not only in the independent candle world but fragrance as well. In addition to soy candles, their company makes diffusers, room sprays and incenses too. Each product is handmade and unique in terms of their packaging and the unexpected scent blend, such as eucalyptus with white lavender or forest moss with fig.
“It was all about function.”
Please tell us what led you to create P.F. Candle Co.!
I was working at a craft magazine in 2008, and one of my tasks was to contact and write about makers. This was at the beginning of the maker/DIY resurgence, in the early Etsy days. When the magazine folded, I lost my job, and took it as a sign to make a living by making things by hand. Initially, I made a lot of different items, like hollow book safes and pillows, but candles were the thing that stuck. We launched our signature amber jar line in 2012, and the rest is history.
Tell us about your journey and how you have made a small business so successful. Have you overcome any obstacles in the beginning?
The beginning was really tough! I scrapped together for years before we saw mainstream success. The business was a success in the holiday months, but the rest of the year I was eating a lot of beans and rice. In the beginning, funding was difficult. I have never taken a loan out for P.F. Candle – we are entirely bootstrapped. I spent all of my savings, Tom’s spare student loan money, and any income I made from the business was re-invested. It was hard to scale – you wouldn’t have the money to buy the supplies you needed! We used credit cards and ran as cheaply as possible, using folding tables and nothing flashy. It was all about function. Money from every order was reinvested – to buy materials, equipment, and payroll. Tom and I didn’t take a salary until 2014. That shrewdness paid off, as we were able to scale wisely.
What was your best career moment that you are most proud of?
Last year, Tom and I pitched our products (the first time we had done something like that) to Target for a Shop Local project here in Los Angeles. We were chosen out of over 400 vendors to be in the project – and our candles ended up being the best selling items. The project ended, but it was really amazing to see that our handmade candles – and P.F. Candle, the company we had grown from nothing – could have mass appeal like that.
“The best way to find success is to find a need in the marketplace, and create a product for it. If the need is there, it makes selling your product much easier.”
So you and your husband work together every day – How is it like working with each other?
We are together 24/7 ever since Tom came on board in 2013 – it can be pretty intense! We have learned how to manage our duties separately, and we have learned when to stop talking about business at home. While there are some tough moments, it is incredibly rewarding to build your business with your significant other. It really feels like we are building our life. We just had a daughter in June of 2016, so we are more motivated than ever to provide a good life for her.
How do you use social media to grow your business?
Instagram in particular was a pivotal tool for us – our first big order, with West Elm, was because of instagram. The VP of Merchandising found us on there after we did an Etsy Pop-up at West Elm, and he connected us with their buying team. It’s a very cheap way to market your product, and the focus of our marketing team. It creates a brand story in a snap – people can look at a glance and see what you’re all about. We can connect with customers and brands in a way that’s more informal – it’s a great tool.
How do you find inspiration for a new scent?
Our scents are inspired by memories. The Black Fig scent, for example – this is inspired by purchasing our first home in East Los Angeles. I always wanted a house with mature fruit trees, and the one we bought has two fig trees on the property. I didn’t know much about figs before we bought the home, and now I’m obsessed.
“Our scents are inspired by memories.”
Kristen told us that her absolute number one scent, for the time being, is Black Fig, which is a unisex approach to a fruity fig scent. Unfortunately, we aren’t able to channel you these fragrances, but even the mere description of their ingredients is as much as is wanted to make you smell it with your mind’s nose. We bet their scent got stuck in your head, just like in ours. If so, visit their website to purchase your own P.F. Candle or to find out what P.F. in their name stands for. They have a wide range of candles, so we are sure that you will find the one that suits you and your house the best!
Text: Zsuzsanna Magyari