We Spoke With Abigail Cook Stone, CEO of Candle Company Otherland
When you're shopping for scented candles, what thoughts run through your mind?
Do some scents automatically make their way into your cart, while others would never? Chances are, you have good memories of the scent you like, so why wouldn't you want to light that baby up?
We spoke with the co-founder and CEO of Otherland, Abigail Cook Stone, and she told us all about this phenomenon. She also spoke about Otherland, why it's so different from other brands on the market and what led to the creation of her candles. Interested in finding out more? Keep scrolling for our full interview with Abigail Cook Stone of Otherland.
Sweety High: Tell us about yourself!
Abigail Cook Stone: Hi! I'm Abigail Cook Stone and I'm the co-founder and CEO of Otherland candles. We're a new scented candle and home fragrance brand based in NYC. We work with the top luxury perfumers to create incredible scents and pair them with different visual artists to create limited-edition candle labels and packaging for each collection.
SH: How did you come up with the idea for Otherland?
ACS: I've been moderately obsessed with art, candles and the power of scent my entire life. Once I began business school in my 20s, I realized how much candles had become part of my everyday self-care routine. I recognized that the brands I gravitated towards—the ones with fresh, sophisticated scents and designs—were too expensive. I saw an opportunity to build a brand that combined unique scent combinations with expressive visual artwork, transportive storytelling and a community-forward approach while also bringing candles into the digital age. I knew I wanted to create a luxury brand that took a unique approach to at-home experiences. After meeting my co-founder Sayyid Markar, Otherland was born.
SH: What does Otherland mean?
ACS: I see candles as consumable, experiential objets d'art, and the name Otherland encapsulates that. Think Cozyland, Cocktailpartyland and Autumnland—all the different vibes you can create in your space! Our name is both a nod to the escapism, the transportative power of lighting a candle and escaping into an immersive scent experience, but also the idea of being present. The way a candle and the ritual of striking a match, igniting the flame helps you stay mindful in the here and now. I love the tension between the two!
SH: Have you always been a fan of candles?
ACS: Yes! I've always loved the transportative power of candles and scent (scent is the strongest trigger of memory and emotion in the brain!). Growing up I desperately wanted a scented candle of my own but my mom said, "No way!" She was probably afraid I'd forget about it and start a fire! When I finally graduated from college, got my first job and moved to NYC, the first thing I bought for my apartment was, you guessed it, my first scented candle! I fell in love and my full obsession with candles and scent has blossomed ever since.
SH: What sets you apart from other candle companies?
ACS: We believe the future of home fragrance—to win in the digital space—needs to be visual-first. That's why art is at the core of Otherland. We work with different artists to create each new collection and use expressive color, pattern and design to activate an emotional connection with our customers.
When their purchase arrives and the customer unboxes each layer of artwork, texture, detail and scent, they then become the storyteller—sharing on social media what about the artwork and scent descriptions inspired them to buy and how they're using it. The candle becomes much more than just its scent notes, say rose or red currant, and is part of what differentiates us from traditional candle brands.
Not only this, but we also play into memories and nostalgia to minimize barriers to entry, creating scents that feel familiar (think fireplaces and fall treats), that play into other senses like taste (burnt maple) and touch (white suede). Scent is the strongest trigger of memory, so we lean into collective memories to set ourselves apart from other candle brands on the market.
SH: What are your best-selling candles?
ACS: Cardamom Milk is our best-seller from our autumnal Manor House Weekend collection—think cozying up with this scent and notes of frothy milk, cardamom and sweet praline woods. It's an elegant upgrade to pumpkin spice! Sandalwood scents are still quite popular, with Dappled Wood (golden sandalwood, toasted walnut and sweet hay) being a close No. 2 to Cardamom Milk during this time of year. They're both so cozy and delicious!
SH: Do you have any upcoming launches?
ACS: Our brand-new Homestead Collection of six new scents drops today, Sep. 14, and features artwork by Happy Menocal. The collection was inspired by some of my culinary adventures during the pandemic last fall and letting my imagination run wild. From the domestic doldrums of a year at home came a whiff of unexpected magic—a mystical tablescape, a swirl of foaming milk and a dancing shimmering moon. This collection is inspired by time at home and all its uncovered wonders. Think Grandmillennial with a surrealist twist—a psychedelic autumnal secret garden. 🍄
SH: Is there anything else you'd like our audience to know?
Love candles as much as we do? Look HERE for our favorite candles from Bath & Body Works that make the perfect transition from summer to fall.