How Otherland Co-Founder Abigail Cook Stone Combined Art, Design and Fragrance to Create the Candle Brand of Our DreamsNovember 25, 2020
Burning candles is certainly one of our favorite meditative pastimes (especially after everything 2020 has thrown our way). While we’ll never hate on classic scents, a hunt for a unique sensorial experience led us to discover Otherland. The brand’s candles tell a story and feature innovative scents and creative packaging.. We had the opportunity to talk to Otherland co- founder Abigail Cook Stone about how she went from daily burning rituals to building her own candle brand that’s unlike anything else out there.
How did you get started in the candle market?
I’ve been mildly obsessed with candles my whole life. When I was in my 20s and found myself burning candles every day from my morning meditation to after work, I quickly recognized a gap in the market. The candles with the fresh, nuanced scents I preferred were often too expensive, while budget-friendly options had ultra-sweet fragrances and lackluster designs.
I realized I had an opportunity to create a modern home fragrance brand that incorporated storytelling and community. After meeting my co-founder and COO Sayyid Markar, Otherland was born.
What was the concept behind Otherland?
I see candles as consumable, experiential ‘objets d’art,’ and the name Otherland encapsulates that — all the different vibes you can create in your space from cozy to cocktail party.
We take a visual-first approach to the challenge of selling scents online. Otherland works with different artists to tell stories and evoke memories around each new collection. Our candles are highly-fragranced as we use nearly double what other brands use for an impactful scent. We follow principles of modern olfactive design and each scent is inspired by a vision or memory, lending to complex, sophisticated fragrances that tie in with artwork on the packaging to create a multi-sensory experience.
What does a typical day look like for you?
I read a little bit in bed right after my alarm goes off to ease into the day. After that, I love to create what I call a ‘hotel-style bed’ that’s delicious to get into every night. I use a little spray bottle of water to mist and smooth out the wrinkles while I make my bed to set the tone for the day.
From there, a quick guided meditation session is a favorite way to start my mornings. I decided to make it an ‘experience’ by creating a meditation nook in a small corner of my apartment by the window sill. Then a generous cup of coffee, skin care and makeup, throw on some statement earrings (I collect them!) and work, work, work from my dining table. When 6PM arrives, I hop onto an Instagram Livestream from the Otherland account — we’ve been doing our daily Fireside Chats since the beginning of lockdown and it’s something I’m so grateful for. We’ve had special guests like Jamie Kern Lima of IT Cosmetics, Gucci Westman of Westman Atelier, Melissa Butler from Lip Bar, Charlotte Cho of Soko Glam, Divya Gugnani of Wander Beauty and more. I want to learn all of their beauty, self-care and entrepreneurship secrets!
What does your personal beauty routine look like?
I always light a candle. It’s the perfect accompaniment to my beauty routine, day or night — I always feel a little extra glam when burning a candle.
In the morning, I’m focused on preparing and protecting my skin.I’ll gently rinse my face and use a glycolic foaming wash. Then, time for a vitamin C serum, moisturizer and sunscreen. After giving that a few minutes to set in, I do my quick makeup routine — even if working from home.
At the end of the day, after my 6pm Fireside Chat, I immediately remove my makeup and go through my nighttime skin-care ritual. The more time my nourishing and anti-aging night creams and serums have on my face, the better! I’ve been using tretinoin since I was 24 and continue to do so, along with a serum with niacinamide, an antioxidant-rich facial oil and a ceramide moisturizer. It’s definitely a process, but I really enjoy the experience of having this self-care ritual.
What's your favorite Otherland candle and why?
Each Otherland candle is inspired by my personal memories, so it would be impossible to pick one. But I will say that I’ve been burning Silk Pajamas from our Gilded Holiday Collection so much lately. It’s a glamorous, ginger scent with the freshness and zip from bergamot and yuzu — it’s citrusy and bright while still feeling cozy.
What moment in your career are you most proud of so far?
I am deeply grateful to have had the opportunities and privileges to have started Otherland, and I remind myself of that every day. It’s opened up the incredibly beautiful world of scent to me, and moreover, I am humbled to work with our team members and connect with our customers. To help bring people a little moment of joy through our product, no matter what challenges they face that day, means the world to me.
What does the future of Otherland look like to you? What's next for the brand?
Otherland has a bright future ahead. One of our biggest goals has been to expand from direct-to-consumer to omnichannel distribution as we look to reach more of our target audience across the U.S. We just launched in Sephora in October —. we’re now available in 140 stores nationwide as well as on Sephora.com.
In the next five years, my goal is for Otherland to be the go-to candle and home fragrance brand for millennials. In addition to our omnichannel expansion and continuing to build our direct business and social community, key growth drivers will include launching new product formats and thematic scent collections, and our own stores and pop-ups down the road.
What's your advice for an aspiring entrepreneur?
‘Make something people love’ is our North Star in building Otherland. For us, it represents our relentless dedication to developing and making products we know our customers will love and will become staples in their lives. Being so customer-focused has served us well as we’ve grown.