after i shared my favourite wellness discoveries from my adventures in new york a few weeks ago, the lovely founders of keap bk got in touch to let me know about their new kickstarter campaign, launching their second range of pure, sustainable candle scents. naturally i was eager to help support their campaign, and also wanted to take the opportunity to get to know the guys behind the brand a little better, who both left positions at google to pursue their dream of creating a better scented candle company.
while living as roommates on keap street in brooklyn, london-born stephen tracy and new yorker harry doull fell in love with scented candles as a simple way to create a sense of homeliness in their new apartment (side note: the first thing i did when i moved into my flat last week was light a scented candle to christen my new home).
while trying to reconcile their luxury candle addiction with covering monthly rent in new york, they discovered that many of the ‘luxury’ candle brands they were paying a high premium for were made using cheap, toxic materials like paraffin wax, and felt there must be a better alternative.
unable to find anything that met their expectations, and being the kind of entrepreneurial spirits you’d expect to find working at google, stephen and harry decided they could do much better themselves and set about creating a product that captured the best of luxury candles, while keeping the price accessible and being mindful of materials.
they began by making candles in their kitchen, before starting to talk with manufacturers, study perfumery and conducting hundreds of customer interviews to help guide their decision-making process.
applying the textbook “warby parker recipe” of cutting out the retail middleman by selling directly to customers – thus eliminating markups and dramatically reducing the price to the end customer – keap’s extensive consumer research led them to design a line of genderless scents inspired by nature, with evocative names such as wood cabin and waves, and a fortuitous introduction led them to new york-based master perfumer christophe laudamiel, who helped bring their concepts to life.
we were extremely lucky to find our master perfumer, christophe laudamiel, very early on. besides being a legend in the industry, he shares our non- conformist ethos and desire to create original concepts that break away from the sameness of commercial perfumery ~ harry doull
launching via a successful crowdfunding campaign on kickstarter in late 2015 – which earned more than double its original goal – keap have remained true to their defining mission statement ever since: to produce pure and sustainable candles, at a fair price, without compromising on fragrance quality or design.
their candles use sustainable coconut wax, created from a majority of ‘high-melt’ coconut oil blended with other natural waxes to create a candle that burns slowly and cleanly, and throws scent extremely well. each candle is sold in a reusable whiskey glass, with a portion from every sale going to solar aid to support the distribution of a solar lamp to communities without access to the electrical grid.
keap are now launching their second range of fine fragrance scented candles through kickstarter, blending popular notes with original and intriguing concepts, whilst keeping their roots firmly planted in nature.
wild figs is a sensuous deep fig scent, with a dark undertone and blackberries on the top, while cotton magnolia is a fine fragrance interpretation of freshly laundered linens. lavender & petals combines therapeutic, refreshing lavender with a light floral softness, with citrus emanating a perfect combination of grapefruit, bergamot, lemon, yuzu and other zesty fruits.
i can’t help but be impressed with stephen and harry’s continued commitment to sustainability and social responsibility, and the remarkable leap of faith it must have taken to quit their day jobs to pursue their passion. always eager to scratch beneath the surface and get to know the people behind my favourite brands a little better, i asked fellow london-expat stephen to answer the coffee & conversations questionnaire:
stephen tracy, co-founder, keap bk
describe your weekday morning routine.
i have a couple of simple tricks that perk me up first thing in the mornings. i drink as much water as i can as soon as i’m up, and i like to squeeze in lemon juice for a bit of added zing. i then then do some light stretching and movement to get the blood flowing. finally, i love coffee—both for the effects and the ritual—and i make a cup by grinding fresh, whole beans and using a clever coffee dripper. i like to think that the extra time spent making the coffee makes it taste a little better. then it’s off to the brooklyn candle studio.
how does your weekend morning routine differ?
my weekend routine differs in that i get up a few hours later than usual. a lie-in is such a treat. there’s always a laundry list of things to do as soon as i’m up, so i think enjoying a moment of peace in bed in the mornings is meditative and important (or at least that’s how i justify the late mornings). i also like to see friends for coffee on the the weekend. my favorite spot near me in new york is jack’s stir brew. it’s a tiny neighbourhood place right by a fire station; the firefighters are often sat outside chatting, drinking coffee and eating donuts which always strikes me as very new york.
describe your favourite corner of your home.
i live in a new york studio, which is a flat squeezed into a single room. so there are precisely four corners to my home. my favorite is by the kitchen table. it’s situated by the old, casement windows that look out onto the street below. when it’s cracked open you can hear the buzz of the street below—i find the noise of the city to be reassuring. new york lives up to the cliché of never sleeping!
whats your favourite home fragrance?
i run a scented candle company, so home fragrance is (predictably) close to my heart. my business partner and i started keap out of a love for candles—particularly those with evocative, naturally-inspired scents. of course i love our range of scents, based on different natural escapes; waves in particular takes me back to my childhood in guernsey, and the fresh sea air. in terms of other candles, the heirloom candle by izola is an old fave—it’s based on the aromatic smell of the vine of a tomato!
go-to comfort food dish?
for lots of comfort i cannot resist jacket potato, beans and cheddar cheese! a little less comfort…does dark chocolate count as a food dish?
how do you like to unwind on a sunday evening?
ritual! dinner at my favourite neighbourhood italian restaurant rafele, a good glass of red wine, then home to a good book (currently essays by eb white), and of course, a lit candle.
where do you go for a weekend escape?
honestly, i love to explore new york on the weekends. it helps being an expat as i you feel like a tourist in your own city. i’ll tend to choose parts of new york i don’t know well—like harlem, or astoria. it’s such a diverse city, you only have to spend 20 mins on the subway and you can feel like you’re in another city altogether.
finally, whats your dream destination for a month-long vacation?
the isle of skye! i’m draw to the wilderness, and skye has some of the most dramatic and wild scenery you can imagine. for me, natural beauty serves as a reminder to be present and appreciate the magic in every moment. it doesn’t hurt that talisker make their very fine whiskey on the island!