Twisting your Ankle on an Apple at the Orchard.
Getting Upset and Throwing Waffles at a Pumpkin.
Randomly Being Abducted by Aliens.
These life experiences are all unforgettable. But to most, there’s little that ties them together.
Christine Ekstrom, however, knows them all too well. The three ridiculous sentences above aren’t just some unfortunate happenings on a day in her life. They’re names of some of the most interesting scents in her Rise & Pine Candles arsenal.
“The names helped create an experience and it makes you think about a memory or something that you could be doing instead of sitting inside,” Ekstrom said of her candle brand. “The generic candle names are cool, but it’s just not very me.”
Rise & Pine, with its often comical candle names, has been the project of the full-time graphic designer and Schenectady resident since late 2019. Ekstrom started Rise & Pine as a hobby, but quickly learned that her humor and homemade scents had potential to gain a following.
“I just started making like different labels and thinking of different names,” Ekstrom said. “And I just posted a picture online around Christmas time. A bunch of people contacted me about Christmas presents, so I sold out.”
The candles, which run between $10 and $16, are introduced seasonally with at least 20 different scents at a time. Her most popular candle is Going on a Hike and Feeling Real Woodsy, Ekstrom said. In just over a year in the candle business, selling her work on her website riseandpine.com and on Etsy and Instagram, Ekstrom has sold somewhere between 2,500 and 3,000 candles.
She makes her candles in a spare bedroom in her home. The five-hour process includes buying wax in flake form, including the wick and printing her own labels at home. So when she sees customers look at her work at the Schenectady Farmers Market and chuckle, it makes her feel like the effort was worth it.
“It’s just so interesting to see somebody pick something up that I’ve made and be like, ‘Oh, this is so cool,’” Ekstrom said. “And then at the farmers markets, it’s just really cool to be interacting with the community and like meeting new people from them.”
Some of her candles, too, are meant to highlight the pandemic and make customers feel just a little better about their day-to-day lives, like Baking Cookies and Staying Inside.
“I would also market it that way on Instagram,” Ekstrom said. “Like, ‘Oh, you can’t do this. But you can have a candle that will help you have that experience or remind you of an experience.’ I think that’s what connects with people.”
Next for Ekstrom is some new summer scents coming in May, some new candle sizes and a double-wick candle.
“I just think that they’re very calming,” Ekstrom said. “And especially during the pandemic, it was just really nice to make something that would be calming and soothing and spread light. It makes people happy.”