Grey Fox Candles Interview
We're continuing our second adventure through Anchorage and Eagle River with Victoria Lawrence of Grey Fox Candles. Candles is in the name but she's branched out into other products, including lotions which she shared in this box! We chatted about how she chose her name, how she garners inspiration, and more. Let's do it to it!
Tell me a bit about yourself, Grey Fox Candles, and how you got started?
After moving up here in 1978, I felt like I was in a love/hate relationship with Alaska. It took a few years to adjust but slowly the LOVE for Alaska won my heart. After my four children were born and raised, I joined the medical field as a patient care tech. It was during this time I decided I wanted to pursue my dream creating pure, eco-friendly, premium handmade candles. I love candles but was concerned what toxins the commercial candles were emitting. So I began to research many waxes, wooden wicks, and phthalate-free premium fragrance oils. We believe in recycling as much as we can, so we began to recycle wine bottles for most of our candles. I thought making small-batch products was going to be a side hobby and was overjoyed by the response for local, handmade candles and lotions. Little did I know, seven years later, it would be my full-time job! I am thankful for locals supporting small business and allowing me to continue to create what I am passionate about, Alaska-made creations.
That's pretty great that you had such a positive response when you were first getting started! Over the years, do you have a particular customer interaction/story that stands out in your mind?
The particular customer that stands out in my mind was from a New York gal whose friend had arranged an Alaska cruise that would require a couple months leave from the office. This gal admitted to feeling overwhelmed at times with her co-worker being gone for so long. Upon returning to the office, her friend had surprised her with a gift made in Alaska! It was my SALTY SEA AIR beeswax lotion. The minute she pumped the lotion into her hands, all the stress from the last two months faded and she decided her manning the office alone was worth every minute. She loved the lotion and continues to buy it to this very day!
That's awesome! What's the story behind your name?
I started out naming my business, Frontier Lights, but as I kept creating more products I wanted a name that came directly from my heart. Grey Fox Candles was chosen because one spiritual meaning of fox may be expressed as using your instincts and creative energies. I think they are just adorable!! One of my hashtags is #followthegreyfox because I am always creating and changing things up!
How did you go from making candles to creating other products like lotion?
I took notice of the vast natural resources Alaska has to offer and began researching. After a few years of jotting down notes, scrapping this idea, then another. And testing. Then more testing. Did I mention testing? I began "panning" in earnest for natural alternatives for skin care, particularly with our extreme, harsh Alaska dry weather conditions. I was very pleased with the ingredients I chose and the outcome of the way it felt on my skin.
What was it like the first time that you made lotion? Was there a bit of a learning curve?
I may not have found actual gold, but I do believe I found "gold nuggets" for my premium beeswax lotion formulas. By the time I presented my moisturizing beeswax lotion to my shops, it became an instant winner!!
What inspires you when it comes to creating new scents?
I am very selective when it comes to the fragrances that I choose. It can take months of searching for the right fragrance for my products before I settle on the scent. There are classic fragrances I carry all year round and then there are seasonal fragrances I re-introduce in addition to my main line for Fall and the Holiday season. You also want to keep up with "trending" fragrance lines so researching never ends for top-of-the-line fragrance oils.
That makes sense! What advice would you give to someone looking to start a candle or skincare business that you wished you'd known at the beginning?
My advice would be to get ready for the ride of your life! There will be lots of ups and downs throughout the whole journey, but if you stick with it, the rewards are amazing!
Is there anything new that you're working on that you can tease?
I have a brand new, numbered elixir candle line that I am working on releasing soon!
When you say elixir candle, what does that mean exactly? Some of the readers might know but it's not something that I'm familiar with and I'm curious!
(I don't want confusion with using the term elixir, "a magical mix of fragrances"). Let's just say SPECIAL EDITION...the small batches are numbered. :-)
When you're not working on the business, what are you doing for fun?
When I am not creating or filling orders, my husband and I love to travel in our trailer all around Alaska! I also enjoy home improvement projects!
What was it about The Bear Box that made you want to be a part of it?
I was honored to be asked my Bear Box if I would like to supply my beeswax lotions in their upcoming subscription box. I love all handcrafted Alaska products, because I know how much hard work it takes to get all the working parts of a business to connect and then be able to share the art with people all across the nation (world?). Bear Box is a valuable resource to be able to share just a bit of many talented artists!
Is there anything else that you haven't mentioned yet that you'd like to share?
In each of my listings I end with, from my home to yours. Bear Box subscription boxes are a wonderful Alaska conglomeration, "from our home to yours" :-)