Welcome to Rebel Shop Spotlight, a Modern Rebel blog series where we talk with some of the amazing vendors who’re committed to sustainable non-gendered gifts for ALL of your loved ones! This month we talked with Emma + Jake of Cave Glow Studio, a candle studio in Brooklyn, NY. For more on Cave Glow Studio, you can find them on Instagram @caveglowstudio.
Tell us a little about yourself!
Hi! We're Jake & Emma. We met in our senior year of college, fell in love and immediately became creative partners. We formed a band together, Pop & Obachan, and over the years have released three albums and have another on the way. In 2014, we moved to Brooklyn and started carving out our professional lives and making a home together with our animal buds. In early 2017, we became official business partners and launched Cave Glow Studio.
How did you get into the candle making industry?
After the 2016 elections, we were feeling bummed and puzzled. We didn't know where to start -- how to help, how to bring healing to our friends and community, how to stake out space for a creative life within a corporate-driven society, how to remind people that there is hope for the future. On a walk one day, we found a book on a stoop about the energetic, spiritual and healing significance of candles throughout history. It seemed like a sign and we became obsessed immediately. The next year of our lives was spent reading, researching, daydreaming and running thousands of tests on different waxes, wicks, fragrances, and jars to find the precise formula for the clean-burning, long-lasting eco candle we offer today.
We love that your products are so eco-friendly. Do you find that it's harder to run a sustainable business or find the items you need?
Thankfully the world changing, and eco-friendly products and ingredients are more accessible than ever. However, there are obstacles that we simply couldn't have anticipated -- like how the U.S. placed a 25% tariff on U.S. soybean imports to China, so soybean farmers have raised their domestic prices to earn enough for their farm. Unfortunately, small business owners end up paying for the difference.
What’s the biggest challenge you face as a small business owner?
It's so motivating and satisfying to be small business owners, but there are a lot of moments of doubt and fear and risk that you have to get comfortable with. You have to make sure that fear has a place at the table and a voice that is heard but that it doesn't control the decision making. It's a very delicate dance but having faith in your teammate and products definitely helps.
What changes would you like to see in the candle making industry?
The small business candle community is very supportive and helpful, especially online. Since it's such a particular, scientific process, it definitely promotes camaraderie. However -- the large candle companies and retailers that are still knowingly filling homes around the world with toxins and chemicals from paraffin wax and fragrance phthalates should be honest with their customers. Studies have proven that those ingredients can have long-term health effects on every pet, child, and adult in the home. So many people have no idea and it’s a shame.
What is your favorite product you make and why?
Right now we're LOVING our new cozy Fraser Fir candle, but we've also been working on a few homeware products behind the scenes that we are SO excited for. They’re beautiful, earthy, imperfect, organic, and luxuriously scented and we’re so happy that we get to release them into the world.
Any advice for other small business owners?
Have faith in your idea and yourself, know when to say "no", and always keep the big picture in view. Make benchmarks and feel good when you meet them. Continuous, incremental improvement adds up to substantial change over time -- you don't need to build it in a day!
If you could have dinner with anyone (living or not) who would it be? What would you talk about?
Hmm… Let’s go with Koko the Gorilla. She would be a very charming dinner companion and she'd probably think whatever we prepared for dinner was delicious.
A few fun facts about Cave Glow Studio!
We have four pets! Oliver, Arthur, Pencil & Bo and they are the best studio assistants.
Jake's a Virgo & Emma's a Pisces, opposite one another within the zodiac.
We eat way too much toast.
Cave Glow Studio hand-pours soy wax candles for the modern, eco-friendly home. Aromatherapuetically focused, each candle has been crafted with 100% domestically grown soy wax, phthalate free essential & fragrance oils, and a lead-free cotton braided wick to create a beautifully designed, clean-burning, long-lasting candle. If you’d like to get in touch with them, email firstname.lastname@example.org.