Candles are one of my favorite things to recommend, and one of my favorite things to get. They are nearly perfect gifts, and can function as spiritual, aesthetic, and calming devices. Though not technically necessary for light in the age of electricity, there is still something soothing about working or sitting by candlelight, to sit and be in a room lit only by naturally occurring light. I recommended my favorite New York-based local candle makers earlier in the year, Good Candle, so it only made sense that, during the holiday season, I’d recommend the best Los Angeles-made candles on the market: P.F. Candle Co.
Like lots of other online-based companies, the local enterprise recently went brick-and-mortar, opening up a tiny flagship store on the Echo Park/Silver Lake border near the bustling corner of Sunset and Alvarado. Barely bigger than a studio apartment, the tiny storefront is decked out in light wood, dark leather and plenty of plants, with cozy rugs, local goods, and of course, their own products lining the shelves. P.F. Candle Co. doesn’t just make candles, they also diffusers, room sprays, incense, unisex perfume, balms and soaks and bath salts. Anything that smells good enough to improve your life — or at least how you feel about it in that moment — is in this little store, or offered in their extensive online shop.
Of course, you can also pick up P.F. Candles in places like Urban Outfitters, or Heyday, or my favorite little Echo Park coffee shop, Eightfold, but having a storefront in the neighborhood is just another way for the growing, local company to establish themselves. And second outpost in Culver City also opened this year. Owned and operated by married couple Kristen Pumphrey and Thomas Neuberger, the company began as a “one-woman operation in 2008,” and despite their rapid growth, still adhere strongly to their initial values: vegan, cruelty-free and phthalate-free products created with 100% domestically-grown soy wax.
The original packaging is a signature light brown amber glass with a golden twist-off lid (though other more artistic variations have necessarily emerged, like the sunset candle in custom tins), and comes in a couple different sizes: 3.5 ounce mini candle ($12), the standard 7.2 ounces ($20), or the large 12.5 ounce size ($28). Scents like Sandalwood Rose, Teakwood and Tobacco, Spruce, and Golden Coast (a dreamy homage to California with flavors of eucalyptus, sea salt, redwood, and palo santo) run very gender neutral, making these a perfect gift for men, too. Obviously gender is a construct, but for those not quite as advanced, the apothecary style of these candles is less intense than something decidedly floral and feminine.
One of the reasons I love P.F. Candles so much is because they’re really jars, so they travel easily. Even if you’ve already been burning one, you can screw the lid back on and bring it with you on trips for a reminder of home. As someone who travels extensively, and sometimes on stressful or jam-packed work trips, where I might still be on deadline and seeking peace in my hotel room, the scent of something I associate with home is very comforting. Buying from local, women-owned companies is a priority for me, and surrounding myself with things that embody my values is very grounding during the chaos of navigating timezones, events, and interviews.
If you are doing some last-minute holiday shopping, I particularly recommend the mini three-pack for $36 — or a bit cheaper, if it’s on sale like it is now — which allows the recipient to try three different scents without totally breaking the bank. The two people I’ve gifted this set to have both gone back to the brand on their own to get more candles. These little candles are advocates for themselves because of how long they last and how mesmerizing the scents are. Personally, I prefer the essentials set over seasonal flavors like Apple Picking or Pumpkin Spice, but both are currently available.
My ideal size is the $20 price point, because I can justify it as a splurge and I use it to help calm myself down when I need to hit a deadline or focus on doing other difficult inner work. Thinking of candles as a little vacation for my senses is a good way of viewing them, I think, justifying the expense as a self-care item without going overboard. While I haven’t tried any of the diffusers, body sprays and perfume or incense, I’m guessing they’re of equal quality, since Pumphrey seems to hold the same standard with all she does. But as a gift, either to yourself or a loved one, there are few things better than a P.F. Candle.
Shop P.F. Candle here.