Believe it or not, I found out about Maris and her candle business when I met her dad lugging a wagon full of empty wine bottles while waiting for my apartment elevator. I held the elevator door as he pulled the wagon through and asked him:
“What floor are you going to?”
“We’re on the same floor” he responded. After a few seconds, he continued, “I’m delivering these to my daughter who lives here and she runs a candle business made with these empty wine bottles!”
My eyes got real big and said something along the lines of “woah!”
As any proud dad would, he happily gave me his daughter’s Instagram handle and folks, that is how I found out about Maris and Fish & Chip Craft Co.
It was almost 4 months after I got the chance to set this up, but I finally got to meet Maris and learn more about her brand.
Tell me a little about yourself and your brand!
During graduate school, my partner Joey got me a bottle of wine – with a beautiful label – so I decided to keep it as a decoration. His suggestion was that I find something more creative to do with it than letting it sit and gather dust on a shelf. I searched around online and saw people that cut wine bottles to make them glasses, wind chimes, vases, and… candles! I had never made a candle before… but went on Amazon, got the supplies and gave it a go. Success! Come the 2017 holiday season, while I was working toward my Master of Public Health degree, and everyone’s gifts were candles poured in upcycled wine bottles!
The reactions from family and friends were overwhelmingly positive, with many suggesting I make a small business out of the idea. I dismissed the idea at first, with my focus on finishing my degree…. but then I couldn’t shake the thought. I spent much of 2018 planning – researching the best supplies, developing my own brand, looking into the process of starting a small business, and finding a way that my vision can become a reality.
By late 2018, I landed my first full-time job in public health and spent my nights and weekends wrapping up planning to begin my brand. By early 2019, I finally launched Fish & Chip Craft Company!
What is one fun fact not a lot of people know about you?
This is a hard one to answer because I’m very much so an open book. But I feel like a lot of my Sacramento friends don’t know that I played lacrosse for a decade… which is nearly half of my life at this point!
Where did you get the name Fish & Chip Craft Co?
Fish & Chip Craft Company is named after our two kitties! I adopted Fishy when I started graduate school at UC Davis, and when I graduated a year later and Joey and I moved to Sacramento in mid-2018, we adopted Chip! Our kitties are our little children, and we love them dearly!
What goes into creating a Fish & Chip candle?
The candles are very labor-intensive, because I’m not only managing the business and the brand and pouring the candles, but I’m also refining the container the candles are poured in.
The wine bottles need to have the labels removed, and the glass cleaned of all label glue before they can be measured and scored with a glasscutter appropriately. The bottles are then dunked between simmering hot water and a bucket of ice water (usually 2-3 times each) until the glass cuts along the scoreline. I’ve cut enough over the last 2 years to know that about 75-80% of the bottles successfully cut.
The cut bottles then need to be sanded. I use diamond plated hand sanding sponges and wet sanding paper to sand down and polish the tops of the glass. This is the most laborious part of the candle making. I get my upper body workout on!
Next, I make sure the insides of all the sanded bottles are nice and clean. Then, I place the wicks in the centers of the bottles. And from there, the candle pouring can begin.
I pour my candles in about 3-4 layers. After a year of making them, I learned this is the best way to ensure no sinkholes in the candles, that it actually speeds up my candle making the process, and tends to make the candles burn out to the edges and down slower in the tests I’ve performed on my own so far.
The wax I use is all-natural soy wax without any unnatural additives. I get my supplies, including the scent oils, from an awesome company called Candle Science. I pour in very small batches – I can only melt 2 lbs of wax at a time in my pouring pitchers!
After a candle has all its layers poured, I trim the wicks, clean the outside of the bottles once more, and finally place my label.
What are some big projects you’re working on now?
I just wrapped up a project to be featured in The Prickly Pear‘s December succulent subscription box! The owner, Mona, has been a huge supporter of my business I have started, for which I am so grateful!
Right now, it feels like I’m working on a lot of big projects… one that took me a while to accept as important is revamping my social media accounts and generally better marketing my products with social media.
Preparing for the holiday season has been a big project in and of itself. I had far less time than anticipated to stock up on candles for the holiday season that I had anticipated, but I’m rolling with the punches and preparing as best as I can to have a large and varied inventory for the four December events I will be selling candles at!
And lastly, I’m working on evaluating what I did this year, and making plans for how I can take what I did, learn from it and improve on it next year. I already have a long list, and I already can’t wait to initiate the changes I want to make.
Where do you see yourself in 1 year from now?
A year from now, I hope that I will be reflecting on successfully implementing at least 75% of the improvements I set out to make in 2020 based on my experiences of my first year in business in 2019. One of these improvements is generating more income so I can donate a higher dollar amount to the Orphan Kitten Project next year! It’s too early for me to say for sure…. but I think achieving a donation of around $750 might just be my goal of 2020!
What’s one thing you want everyone to know about your business and candles?
There are a few things I want people to know…
1. I ABSOLUTELY would not have been able to make this business a reality without the help of my parents (who help me gather bottles and remove the labels, and just generally support everything I try in life) and my friends and partner who are constant cheerleaders for me. They have propelled me forward.
2. I care deeply about volunteering but I feel I don’t always have the time to fit it in around my work schedule. So, it means a lot to me that I donate a portion of my proceeds to the Orphan Kitten Project! They are a student-run non-profit that coordinates foster families and neonatal veterinarian care for orphaned kittens. Fishy was an orphaned kitten, so their mission is near and dear to my heart.
3. I love a challenge, and this business constantly challenges me in the most positive way. I’m already excited to apply what I have learned from the challenges I faced this year to be more successful (and hopefully able to contribute more to our community) in 2020.
I hope you guys enjoyed learning about another awesome woman business owner in Sacramento! Make sure to say hi to Maris @fishandchipcraftco. I started these Monthly Business Features to showcase the beautiful women behind cool businesses like Fish and Chip Craft Co. This is my way as a personal brand photographer to give back to the community and get to know all the spectacular people of Sacramento! If you want to see the previous business features click here and if you want to stay up-to-date, make sure to join my newsletter!
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