Startup Year One: Net, the candle maker that seeks 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—and sustainable—but still chic—candle that could pave the way for a new standard for the multi-billion dollar global industry.

Net uses a non-toxic, coconut-soy wax blend, and the fragrance contains essential oils and isolates with zero synthetic ingredients in the fragrance. The wick is crafted from 100% certified organic cotton (considered the first of its kind by the company), and the vessels are handmade and reused after the candle has completely burned out. 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, Net has attracted the attention of major retailers including Credo and Nordstrom, and has partnered on collaborations with Tata Harper’s and Barbie’s that have gone on to sell out. Recently, the brand added a new ingredient to the mix: raw honey, harvested in New York City.

Han Pyle recently shared more with Good luck It’s really like trying to build a sustainable brand.

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

Can you share something about your professional background before launching Net?

I Started in Fashion Editorial, Worked Here allie In the fashion closet and then as a fashion and beauty market editor. Then I started 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 that experience and truly believed that brands have the potential to foster super engaged and passionate communities and impact the world for the better. This inspired me to think of launching a brand of my own.

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What inspired you to launch Net?

I have always loved candles and fragrances. When I was growing up my mother was a candle maker. He had a small candle shop on the water in Sausalito [Calif.] Where she would take a dip and carve these fun, colorful pillars. There was always such a wonderful smell, and some of my best childhood memories come from spending time there with her.

When I moved to New York City after college, candles became important to me again—splintering on a Diptyque candle to cozy up my small Greenwich Village studio apartment was such a simple pleasure that changed everyone. I have always surrounded myself with candles in every living situation since then. But when the clean beauty movement started, I was deep down a research rabbit hole on ingredients and formulations, and I started cleaning out my beauty cabinet and replacing everything with better and safer alternatives.

I couldn’t, for the life of me, find anything attracted to me in the place of a candle. None of my favorite luxury candle brands were addressing anything about consistency, clean formulas, or ingredient transparency, and I was deeply disappointed. I also found out that the brands I always shopped from were actually using very harmful ingredients.

When Carol Han Pyle started Net, she wanted to create a clean, durable, and attractive candle that would pave the way for a new standard for the industry.

Net. Courtesy

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

Each element of Net Candle has been thoughtfully developed to make it as beautiful, durable and clean as possible. For example, a pain point for me was that almost every luxury candle brand was using the exact same, very cheap glassware that had been spray painted a variety of colors and claimed that the pots were reusable. . I thought it was so silly because you can’t use those vessels for drinking, and there are only so many “scrunchie holders” that one person could need.

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

We work with the world’s best perfumers to develop our own fragrances using a vast array of natural and upcycled ingredients and publish all the consistency data on each one as soon as we receive it. For example, we know that our Sunday Chess fragrance is 99.4% biodegradable, made using 99.3% green chemicals, 73.5% naturally derived ingredients and 100% vegan. We also use 100% recycled (and reusable) packaging for our candle boxes and print using vegetable ink.

Candles are a multi-billion dollar industry, and poor economy or not, many consumers enjoy candles as a simple pleasure, similar to the lipstick effect. But record-breaking inflation and supply-chain issues have simultaneously thrown many hypothetical rules of business out the window. How has your business fared in this economic climate, and—since candles are a popular gift—what are your expectations for the upcoming holiday season?

Net launched in December of 2020, so we’ve never known business without supply-chain issues, crazy freight prices, an abundance of delays, and everything else that comes from starting in a pandemic. . Our business has grown organically mostly through this and with impressive year-over-year growth so far.

Year over year in 2022, our average year-on-year growth is 143%. Last year’s holiday season was super strong, and we’re looking forward to going even stronger this year. We are also launching a very exciting Limited Edition Holiday Candle with a partner, which I can’t wait to reveal more about.

How is the company funded? Is it self-financed or have you reached out to investors? How has been the financing process?

Net is completely self-funded, and we haven’t reached out to investors yet, although raising money is definitely top-notch at the moment. We are gearing up for a huge retailer and new category launch during the first quarter of 2023, which will require us to drive a growth.

Looking ahead over the next five years, how do you want Net to grow?

The most important thing for me is to develop the net consciously and with intention. I like to take my time and make sure that every step is carefully considered, whether it’s a retailer partnership or a new product launch. Our mission of helping our community “take good care” by offering the products and tools it needs to connect back to everything, knowing they were built with the highest standards in mind.

it’s an installment startup year one, An exclusive series of interviews with founders about key lessons they learned in the immediate aftermath of their first year of operating their business.