We caught up with Kristen Pumphrey of Pommes Frites Candle Co. to hear about how she started such a successful and down right rad business. Read about her inspiration & experience below! If you haven’t already, definitely try out some of their beautiful smelling candles!
Where do you live?
I live with my husband (and business partner!) in Los Angeles, CA – specifically East Los Angeles.
When did you start P.F Candle Co? Were you working another job?
I started Pommes Frites in 2008. I had just been laid off from my job at a craft magazine when it folded, so I seized the opportunity to follow my dream and start a business. The candle line as it is today was launched in 2012 – we made a lot of different things before that.
How did you decide to turn this into a business?
I approached the maker business from a different standpoint since I’d spent time writing about makers who owned their own business. I was always very focused on owning a business, and having it be more than a hobby. I went through many items before I found the product that really allowed a business to flourish – it was just a matter of trial and error to get there!
How many people are there on your team?
There are currently 18 people on our team, although that number is growing.
What is the best part about what you do?
I love working on creative projects, like making time-lapse videos of our production or creating new scents and products.
What has been the hardest part of running your own business?
Getting the business past the initial phase, where I could sustain more than myself, was insanely hard. It was lots of lean meals and long days. Now, I’d say the hardest part of running a business is keeping the ship moving! We’re not a nimble small business anymore – we have a bigger team, with operating systems, and things can’t change on a dime.
What are your goals for PF Candle Co down the line?
Next year, we’re launching a new line of candles that we’re super excited about. We’re also focused on expanding to more home fragrance goods and other products, now that we’ve established ourselves within candles. And an internal goal for the company is continue to make it a great place for people to work and provide a good life for our employees.
Do you have a favorite candle 🙂 ?
My favorite candle is our Patchouli Sweetgrass scent. I’m a sucker for sweetgrass – it reminds me of where my family now lives in Charleston, since sweetgrass baskets are a celebrated handicraft from there.
How do you come up with new scents to launch?
Our scents are inspired by memories – a lot of time by travel. We try to make scents as true to life as possible, since it can be so personal. We are also very focused on creating unisex scents, even if it has typically “masculine” or “feminine” elements – we want to appeal to a broad audience.
Beyond scents, what inspires you?
Nothing inspires me more than getting out into nature, where you’ve lost cell service, and getting some perspective. I love to camp and hike, it’s excellent for clearing your head.
Do you have any advice for those looking to have a career doing what they love?
I went to college for acting, and although I didn’t end up pursuing that field, there are a lot of lessons I was able to take from it. I’ll never forget one teacher who said “if you’re not getting work, make your own.” In an extremely competitive field like acting, it was a reminder that not everyone is going to see what you have to offer as special – you have to show them. I think that’s what I did with my business – I made my own work. If the job you want doesn’t exist, find a way to make it.