Welcome to Faire’s Community Spotlight. Every month, Faire highlights impressive members of our community. We share the unique stories, inspirations and strategies that led these talented makers and retailers to success.
If you would have asked Adam Fetsch if candles would be a big part of his life a few years ago, he would have laughed at you. But when he was working at a restaurant and became amazed with the vast amount of empty bottles going into the trash, an idea sparked. And you could say that flame created the gumption—er, wick—he needed to create Rewined Candles. This Charleston, South Carolina-based company employs 35 professionals and creates a wide variety of scents and designs for modern homes.
Like most inspiring entrepreneur stories, Fetsch started at home. After watching YouTube video tutorials in September of 2009, he decided to try candle-making himself. Through plenty of trial and error, he started to get the hang of it—and thought he may be onto something. Paired with a passion for wine and the winemaking process, he put his two interests together and started creating candles out of bottles.
The end product today is visually appealing, and an experience for our senses: fragrance oils match the grape variety of wine, created in champagne bottles and featuring scents from Blanc to Bordeaux.
Fetsch took a break from his growing brand to chat with the Faire team about how he built his business, where it’s going and more:
Wine and candles! What a concept. As wine-lovers, we can’t get enough. How do you ensure the candles smell like various wine varieties?
Adam Fetsch: We start by analyzing a wine and the tasting notes that we really love in those wines. Then we try to work with fragrance houses to match different tasting notes that we pick out of the wines. We start having a little fun and then it flows from there.
People definitely have their favorites and they will hunt them down if they really can’t find them in their local shop, especially our holiday fragrances. Spiked cider is a top seller — and they want it in early in the fall season so they can burn it throughout.
In the early days, how were the candles created?
We sourced products in every way we could. We were buying wax at Michael’s and we were buying oils at Whole Foods, and just trying to put together everything we could from where we could find it.
Finding wine bottles for candles was a bit of a task. I did a lot of dumpster-diving to find bottles for the candles early on. I’d go to all the great restaurants in Charleston downtown and dig through their trash. The cooks and chefs would look out the window and see this big guy jumping into their garbage cans and I would wonder what’s going on. Eventually they got to know me and knew what I was doing.
Now, how many people are involved in the candle-making process before it heads off to the lucky consumer?
We have about five or six people who work in pouring our candles and then another seven or eight people who work on labeling and packaging them, and then a team in the office that pulls it all together. Every candle that goes through our line is touched by probably a dozen people before it makes it into a customer’s hand. There’s a lot of individual touch points on our candles.
Our production in our warehouse varies and at times we’ll be making small batches of 20 or 30 candles, and at times we’ll be making large batches of three to four thousand candles. I think the most we’ve ever done in a day is probably about seven thousand candles.
How have you been able to scale and make Rewind a successful brand?
For Rewined, wholesale is the life-blood of our business.That’s where most of our effort goes into. We develop strong relationships with retailers across the country and we try to serve them as best we can so they can be successful in telling our story and getting candles into the hands of their customers.
Trade shows have been traditionally really good for us to get face to face interaction with our retailers and talk to them and learn about what they’re looking for. We have retailers who come in to visit our shop and more recently Faire has been a great addition for us to find new retailers and make it easier for retailers to find us.
We’re proud to have you as part of the Faire community! How would you describe Faire to your grandmother?
Faire makes retail simple. Faire makes wholesale simple. It reduces all the friction between retailers and wholesalers. Faire makes it easy! It makes it easy for us to process orders and get things out. Faire also takes kind of the tough parts out of the business and makes them simpler.
Recently we used the Faire Direct program with Faire to introduce a lot of our customers and we were able to see a huge spike in sales at a time where we really needed it. It helped us out a lot.
You still believe in retail, and in having customers see your products up-close-and-personal. Do you think more people are invested in local, as opposed to digital shopping?
I think customers can get products online, and they can get what they need, but customers also want to walk into a retail establishment. They want to experience something that makes them feel something. They want it to be emotional. They want to learn. And if you can accomplish those things, I think you do what I love to do: put joy into people’s lives.
Speaking of local — why Charleston? What attracted you to this part of the country?
Charleston is an awesome community and responsible for all a lot of our success starting our business. I made my first batch of candles in my backyard… and hit the streets of Charleston to try to find somebody to buy them. To my great surprise, I found the most supportive retailers who were eager to give them a shot or if they didn’t, they knew someone down the street who would. It was probably one of the greatest moments of my professional life: getting that response and learning that something that I made with my two hands was valued.
It’s a lot of fun being a maker in Charleston. There are lots of creative people doing cool things and lots of different venues to kind of show your stuff. Charleston makers are all really a friendly and supportive group. It’s an eclectic mix of styles. In Charleston we’re kind of a small town and have a small town feel — but we have a lot of people who are from bigger cities, too. So you blend those styles of people who are from a small town and from people who are from New York City or something, and it comes together for a unique feel.
What’s the hardest part of your job? How has Faire helped?
There are a lot of challenges in running a candle company. It sounds simple, but every day brings a new challenge. A new fire to put out. There are challenges that come from getting product in an on time in order to meet a customer’s needs. There are challenges and finding the right direction to move forward.
As we grew, the business becomes much more difficult to manage, so you have to nail down an accounting program that works for you. You have to nail down a POS program that works for you and a website. Finding programs that are simple and easy to use and make your life easier, rather than more difficult is one of the challenges as you grow. I think Faire has given us kind of another channel in order to strengthen our core business. Our connection with our retailers was strong, but there was some fluctuation in the business and Faire has added a bit of stability to that kind of a constant flow of business.
You’ve seen some awesome growth, and you’ve been able to build a small, effective team. What does that feel like as an entrepreneur?
It’s definitely a little weird to know that, you know, this crazy idea I had nine years ago would support a lot of people and a lot of people would come in and be proud of the work that they do on our candles every day.
What I’m really proud of with our candles is knowing that, you know, we make all these products and that they give people joy. So, somebody gets that product in their home and they light it and they smell it and it brings joy to their day. And to know that we do that for so many people is really awesome.