SMITH STREET CANDLE CO.
Whoever said "don't mix business with pleasure" never met Rick and Jenny Cohen, the creative couple behind Smith Street Candle Co. He, an Art Director by occupation, and she, a Graphic Designer, discovered their desire to trade in processing and proofing for waxing and wicking. With a hand-poured appeal, soothing scents, and lovely labels, these small batch candles are lit to perfection. Each of the products sold through their site offers a modern yet classic aroma - created with a little bit of fragrance oil and a lot of love.
What is the story of SSCC? How did you come to create candles?
We've been making candles since 2010, an idea that originated when we were living in Peru and thinking about what kinds of projects we'd want to do when we got back to the states. We started by just making a few candles for friends as holiday gifts and experimenting with cut glass beer and wine bottles. We finally got around to making some labels, and then started an online store - It kind of took off from there.
Why did you name your company "Smith Street Candle Co."? Paying homage to the neighborhood?
Exactly! Apparently Brooklyn is so "in" right now. When we first moved I sublet in a few neighborhoods, trying to get a feel for the city, but eventually fell in love with and settled down in Cobble Hill. The whole neighborhood is wonderful at supporting local shops, restaurants, and artists, especially on Smith Street. We felt like what we wanted to do with our candles fit nicely in the fabric that was already woven into the culture here. When we were musing about what to call our business we immediately started thinking of how we could incorporate our neighborhood into our story, and Smith Street Candle Co. was born.
What scents do you offer? Do you have plans to expand?
Since we really were only making candles for our friends for the holidays, we had a good handle on wintry scents, so that's where we started. We have seven scents: Spiced Vanilla, Spiced Pumpkin, Sweet Cedar, Holiday Cheer, Brooklyn Bourbon, Prospect Park Pine, and Wyckoff Winter. Again, we try to lean into our neighborhood when we can.
Now that the holidays are over we're working on a few new scents - a lavender scent, a sweet lemon, a eucalyptus, and a roasted coffee. We're really excited.
What do you think gives SSCC the competitive edge?
We take a lot of pride in our scents and our process, but at the end of the day we're just trying to make something that looks great in your home. We use American grown soy wax and all cotton wicks, which means our candles burn super clean and for a very long time. There are a ton of candles out there, but we hope our customers appreciate our handmade approach, attention to detail, and the fact that it's really just the two of us doing everything.
The process of candle making is pretty long. I don't think most people realize this. Do you find it kind of therapeutic? Or do you try to double-task and use the time productively (go grocery shopping, take out the laundry... that sort of thing)?
We definitely find it therapeutic. The whole process takes about three hours, making 8 to 25 candles at a time, and while there's a lot of waiting for wax to cool and melt, you have to pay attention to the temperature really carefully, so walking away is not really an option. It's oddly intense. We'll put on some Netflix or music / podcasts, though. While one of us is doing candle production, the other is printing and cutting out labels by hand. Then we'll prep the next batch.
What kind of music do you listen to while you make?
I'm a huge Phish fan, but Jenni can barely tolerate them. So we usually stick to the classics like Sinatra and Louis Armstrong. We're also big fans of NPR.
You live together, love together, and now you're creating together. How has it been working with your partner on this project?
We've definitely had our struggles, both of us coming from a design background and having strong opinions. But we've found that through this process, our communication skills are getting stronger.
Would you ever like to make SSCC your full-time gig(s)?
That would be a dream. Not that we don't love our jobs, but after spending our careers working for others, it'd be great to build something sustainable for ourselves.
What is your favorite thing about the Brooklyn creative community?
What's not to love? It's the strongest creative community that we've found anywhere. Everybody seems to be involved in some way. The possibilities seem endless. No matter what you're into, you can find your group. And the community, magically, seems to support it.
Photos by Caroline Petters