P.F Candle Co.

Los Angeles, California


In this edition, we explore how plants influence the lives of Kristen Pumphrey and Thomas Neuberger - CEO & CREATIVE DIRECTOR / COO & SALES AND OPERATIONS MANAGER - from P.F Candle Co., a Los Angeles-based home fragrance company. They believe that fragrance is an extension of the design of your home and nature is the best perfumer.

How your love candles came about?

Kristen: My mom has been a serious candle burner for as long as I can remember . My sister made candles for a Home Ec fair in middle school, and after she was done with the kit I “inherited” it and started making candles in the kitchen. I was around 12. I made candles throughout high school and college for fun, and then when I wanted to start a handmade business it seemed only natural.


Tom: The only answer is from Kristen. She’s made candles the entire 10 years I’ve know her. The complicated answer is I really like the history and the mechanic behind it. For most of human history, candles were the only source of indoor light we had. How people were smart enough to make a self-contained lamp out of animal fats is insane!


Your scents rely natural work, how has this changed or strengthened your ideas about nature?

Kristen: Nature is the best perfumer, and we draw so much inspiration from plants when it comes to our scents. My favorite weekend activity is strolling through a herb garden (The Natural history Museum her sin Los Angeles has an incredible one) and touching all the plants.


Tom: With scents, I think about the chemicals that break down to create them. Most of the stuff from nature shares common compounds like thymol, and it gives them similar scent notes.

"Nature is the best perfumer, and we draw so much inspiration from plants when it comes to our scents"


— Kristen Pumphrey

Your range is seamlessly curated with plants. How have plants affected the retail environment?

Tom: Plants in the retail environment are a net positive. Then help reduce our carbon footprint and purify the air for us. In our shop, not only do customers get greeted by great scents, but the air quality is probably a bit better than what they just experienced outside it.

Kirsten: Tom said it best here! When we thought about setting up our shop, I looked to our own home” what did we have and enjoy already? Plants are not only beautiful, but serve a function.

Were you an avid gardener before P.F. Candle Co.?

Kirsten: Probably not. I don’t think I developed my green thumb until we moved to California. I had access to the flower market here (we lived a block away) and just went nuts. I’m the indoor gardener in our house, and Tom’s the outdoor gardener.

Tom: I wouldn’t say I was an avid gardener before we moved into our current house. I never had the space to grow things. Now one of the things I enjoy most in the world is working with the land. Tending to the garden, terracing our soil, just trying to be a good sheered of what we have.

How has nature informed your business?

Tom: We are natural beings, so it makes sense to look to nature guidance. What company structures work well in nature? How do people communicate best with each other? We also care deeply about the environment. My goal is to reduce most of our packaging to just item themselves. It is extremely frustrating when you put so much time and resources into something and people, just throw it away.

Kristen: Like Tom said, par of what motivates us is being able to make an environmental difference from corporate standpoint. I felt frustrated by my limitations as an individual - yes, I can make responsible choices, but it’s a much smaller impact than corporations can make. I truly believe they have the biggest responsibility when it comes to climate change. Something I’m proud of is that we’ve started composting here at P.F. HQ. We also want to put solar panels in.

"We are natural beings, so it makes sense to look to nature guidance"

Have there been challenges with having plants in your store?

Kristen: Watering can be an issue. We have a great patio, so we’ll rotate them out there for a nice shower. And they’ll get little yellow leaves if they don’t have perfect sunlight. I’ll usually trim these off for customers before I send them home.

Tom: Trying to keep them alive is a challenge, but I think it’s one our shop peeps enjoy.

When creating new scents, how does nature factor into it?

Kristen: We just love starting with natural inspirations (like cedar) and pumping it up with other notes to make it really full-bodied. We also think about a sustainable approach for the fragrance industry going forward. We have an all-natural line and a man-made/natural blend line. There are limitations to the type of aromas we can create with all-natural scents, because some items are cost prohibitive in their natural form and some are outright banned (like musk: you can get that natural). I believe that man-made fragrances are sustainable forward for the industry, because they put less strain on our natural resources. For example, it takes 48 kilograms (150 pounds) of rose petals to make 5 mL of rose essential oil. These are so highly concentrated, and I don’t think their best use is for fragrance candles. We use essential oils lightly for that reason - to round out a scent rather than be the entirety.

Tom: For us, a lot of time the scent-building process starts in a botanical garden, asking what nature put together that works already, or what two scents people might love to experience together that aren’t together already.