Thanks for the love, Notable.
What started just for fun – a little something to gift friends with around this time last year – has taken off into a full-time hands-on new candle business venture for Woodlot founders Sonia Chhinji and Fouad Farraj.
She was a jack-of-all-trades at a mobile gaming start-up in Gastown and he was involved in family businesses on the east coast making regular cross-country trips before calling Vancouver home.
Their new-found business traces back to their past roots.
As a child, Sonia learned to roll wicks with her mother, who picked up the skill back in India from her mother. Fouad grew up playing in a backyard full of olive trees on the Mediterranean coast, where he’d save the last branches to make soap with his family.
But it’s a candle. So why all the fuss?
Well, Woodlot candles are made by hand from all-natural, organic coconut wax – but they still maintain a luxe feel. They burn a clean, petroleum-free flame that truly lasts a full day without the nuisances other candles can often create.
The different scents include only simple ingredients like mint, sandalwood, patchouli, and a lot of good intentions. Adding light, ambience, and energy – these candles have customers raving.
The craze for Woodlot candles has caught on with retail suppliers placing orders all the way from Portland to Tokyo. And it’s no surprise a cult-like following has quickly griwn through social media.
Their most recent stockist: Colette – the Parisian boutique known to carry the holy grail of everything up-and-coming and cool. Not a bad way to confirm your legitimacy.
Did we mention they officially launched just six months ago?
Sonia and Fouad will continue to spend their days pouring candles in their city studio and experimenting with new scents but their recent spur of success will allow them to develop new products offerings that are sure to be loved just as much.
Some of which will be introduced just in time for this Christmas.
And while we’re not usually the romantic type, we know this story has a bright future.
Demand for the handmade, eco-friendly, coconut wax candles produced by Sonia Chhinji and Fouad Farraj of local company Woodlot has seen them secure retailers in Vancouver, Toronto, New York, Portland, Switzerland and Paris since launching in May and is now allowing them to expand into bath and body products. Chhinji chatted with The Sun about how it all began and their recent expansion.
Q: Tell us about Woodlot?
A: “My partner, Fouad, has been making handmade soap bars for about 10 years now in Lebanon. He got into it because he was fed up the way other soap bars were making his skin feel and were full of so many toxic ingredients. We both started to look further into the ingredients that were in the products we were using every day, including skin care, candles, bath and cleaning products and started to make our own. We made a batch of candles for the holidays last year and had a lot of early supporters. In May we launched the brand officially with Coconut Wax Candles.”
Q: Where did the name Woodlot come from?
A: We stayed in a yurt on a woodlot in Ontario when we were developing our scents, which are inspired by memories or adventures. Woodlot stuck with us.
Q: Why do think Vancouver is a good place to launch a company like yours?
A: There’s a lot of really interesting things going on in Vancouver at the moment — so many makers on the rise. The community is awesome and the support is definitely there. Our Vancouver stockists have been great at providing us with feedback as we grow.
Q: Why do you think the maker movement has caught on so well here?
A: I truly believe that all of us have this innate desire to make things with our hands. With our days so heavily entrenched in technology, I personally was craving something that was a bit more tangible. These days, I satisfy that by mixing custom blends, pouring candles and developing new products.
Q: Can you tell me about your involvement with Farmacie? (the local long table dinner series, where all proceeds go to local organizations and start-ups)
A: We were a part of Farmacie 3.0 back in June. We donated candles for the dinner table and created a custom Farmacie/Woodlot candle that each guest went home with. My family is full of farmers back in India, so this felt like the perfect opportunity to get involved with a dinner where proceeds supported the Fresh Roots Schoolyard initiative.
Q: What’s been the biggest surprise since launching Woodlot?
A: The opportunity to work with some really great brands and how quickly things can take off.
Q: What effect has social media had on your business?
A: These platforms have really helped us gain worldwide traction. We’ve been very lucky to have our consumers share beautiful images of our products in their home or office setting, which the masses on Instagram and Pinterest love.
Q: Where can locals find your products?
A: Le Marche St. George, One of A Few, Charlie & Lee, Vincent Park, WALRUS and www.shopwoodlot.com
Q: What’s next for Woodlot?
A: Our interest is to continue developing simple ingredient products for everyday use. For our soaps, we’ve played around with (ingredients like) locally brewed beer, coffee beans and florals, such as lavender. With our candles we have a new scent called Holidaze, which reminds me of Christmas morning: mandarin oranges and pine trees. We’re also releasing an 8oz candle and travel tins, which are great for stocking stuffers.
We're huge Palo Santo fans. We light the holy wood incense each morning at the studio, but did you know you can prepare a tea infusion from the stick?
We received the following recipe from our Palo Santo supplier in Equador. We tried it out a few nights ago, and it's divine.
How to prepare Palo Santo tea infusion:
Boil the sticks for 15 minutes
Filter and drink with honey at night
A bag of 8 sticks can be used to prepare 25 cups of tea
Light a candle. Pour some tea. Get cozy. And let us know what you think.
Woodlot is looking for an enthusiastic + hard-working part-time Production Assistant at our Vancouver studio.
You will assist in the production, shipping and packaging of Woodlot products.
Tell us if you:
With our origins steeped in family tradition, Woodlot keeps future generations in mind. We launched with a collection of Eco-Friendly Coconut Wax Candles, and plan on expanding into other minimal ingredient self-care products for everyday use. We’re just getting started!
Interested? Send us your resume + short blurb about yourself to: firstname.lastname@example.org