The candle maker who wants to bridge the gap between clean ingredients and cult status

The candle maker who wants to bridge the gap between clean ingredients and cult status

When Carol Han Pyle launched Nette in December 2020, she wanted to create a clean-burning, long-lasting, yet still classy candle that could usher in a new standard for the multi-billion dollar global industry.

Nette uses a non-toxic blend of coconut and soy wax, and the scents contain essential oils and isolates with no synthetic ingredients in the scents. The wick is made from 100% certified organic cotton (presented by the company as the first of its kind), and the containers are handmade and meant to be reused once the candle is fully burned. The candles are also packaged in materials made from recycled shoeboxes, with seaweed ink printing for the boxes and labels.

Over the past year and a half, Nette has caught the eye of major retailers, including Credo and Nordstrom, and partnered with Tata Harper and Barbie on collaborations that have sold out. More recently, the brand added a new ingredient to the mix: raw honey, harvested in New York.

Han Pyle recently shared more with Fortune about what it’s really like to try to build an enduring brand.

The following interview has been condensed and lightly edited for clarity.

Can you tell us a bit about your professional background before launching Nette?

I started out in fashion writing, working at She in the fashion dressing room then ELLE.com as a fashion and beauty editor. I then created a digital agency developing content and strategy for some of the biggest luxury brands in the world. I fell in love with all things brands during this experience and truly came to believe that brands have the ability to foster super engaged and passionate communities and influence the world for the better. It inspired me to start thinking about launching my own brand.

What inspired you to launch Nette?

I have always loved candles and perfumes. My mother was a candle maker when I was little. She had a beautiful little candle shop on the water in Sausalito [Calif.] where she would hand dip and carve these fun and colorful pillars. It always smelled so good in there, and some of my fondest childhood memories come from spending time with her.

When I moved to New York after college, candles became very important to me again – splurging on a Diptyque candle to make my little Greenwich Village studio feel comfortable was such a simple pleasure that made all the difference. I have always surrounded myself with candles in all life situations since then. But when the clean beauty movement started to take off, I was down a rabbit hole of researching ingredients and formulations, and started cleaning out my beauty cabinet and replacing everything with better options. and safer.

I could not, in my entire life, find anything that appealed to me in the space of candles. None of my beloved luxury candle brands talked about sustainability, clean formulas, or ingredient transparency, and I was so disappointed. I also realized that a lot of the brands I had always bought actually used some pretty harmful ingredients.

When Carol Han Pyle launched Nette, she wanted to create a clean-burning, long-lasting and classy candle that would set the stage for a new standard for the industry.

Courtesy of Net

What sets Nette apart from other candles on the market? How was your research and development process to produce more durable candles?

Every element of a Net candle is carefully developed to be as beautiful, durable and clean as possible. For example, a sore point for me was that almost all of the luxury candle brands used the exact same very cheap spray-painted glass containers in different colors and claimed the containers were reusable. I thought that was so silly because you can’t use these containers for drinking, and there are only so many “scrunchie holders” a person might need.

I wanted to figure out how to create a container that was food safe, microwave and dishwasher safe so they could be used as cute drinking cups or coffee mugs after the candle was finished. Our vessels are so expensive because they are all handmade and food safe, but to me this is the only way for a vessel to be truly sustainable.

We work with the world’s best perfumers to develop our fragrances using a ridiculously high amount of natural and recycled ingredients and release full sustainability data on each one as we receive it. We know, for example, that our Sunday Chess fragrance is 99.4% biodegradable, made with 99.3% green chemistry, 73.5% naturally-derived ingredients, and 100% vegan. We also use 100% recycled (and recyclable) packaging for our candle boxes and print with vegetable-based ink.

Candles are a multi-billion dollar industry, and bad economics or not, many consumers enjoy candles as mere pleasure, similar to the lipstick effect. But record inflation and supply chain issues have simultaneously thrown many of the supposed rules of trade out the window. How has your business fared in this economic climate, and with candles being a popular gift, what are your expectations for the upcoming holiday season?

Nette launched in December 2020, so we’ve never known the company without supply chain issues, crazy freight prices, delays galore, and all the pandemic stuff. Our business has grown mostly organically through it all and with impressive year-over-year growth so far.

Year-to-date 2022, our average year-over-year growth is 143%. Last year’s holiday season was super strong, and we expect this year to be even stronger. We’re also launching a very exciting limited edition holiday candle with a partner that I can’t wait to share more of.

The no-compromise candle brand is hyper-focused on clean ingredients and sustainable practices.

Courtesy of Net

How is the company financed? Is it self-funded or have you contacted investors? How was the funding process?

Nette is entirely self-funded and we have yet to contact any investors, although fundraising is definitely a priority at this time. We’re gearing up for a huge retailer and new category launch in the first quarter of 2023, which will likely require us to do an increase.

Over the next five years, how do you want to develop Nette?

The most important thing for me is to grow Nette consciously and with intention. I want to take my time and make sure every step is well thought out, whether it’s partnering with a retailer or launching a new product. It should all tie into our mission to help our community “take good care” by offering products and tools they can truly relax in, knowing they were created with the highest standards in mind. .

This is a payment of First year of start-up a special series of interviews with founders on the key lessons they learned in the aftermath of their company’s first year in business.

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