Making candles sounds like an unexpected side hustle for a graphic artist who designs skateboards by day, but Pete Panciera was drawn into the wax game by the challenge. “My wife, Erika, and I were living in Connecticut and buying these really fancy candles, and I had this feeling I might be able make something as good in our house,” he explains. “The first ones were more of a weird art project—they had a lot of tobacco in them, and I have no idea if they smelled nice.”
After a move to southern California and a commission to sell their soy-based creations at a local barbershop, Pete and Erika found themselves—somewhat unexpectedly—at the helm of a lifestyle brand, developing candles in nuanced, earthy scents poured into neutral ceramic tumblers and hand soaps with playful black and white labels (designed by Pete, of course). These days, the smells matter to them a lot: “We want the scents to evoke a place, but not necessarily just what you would find in nature—for example, the Ojai candle has palo santo in it, because the hotel we stayed at the first time we went was burning palo santo in our room. So it’s more about recreating our personal memories.” They’ve gotten so good at it that burning them really makes us wish we were there.