Floor to ceiling libraries with rolling ladders to reach the tip-top shelves are the things of fairytales. In fact, if you’re anything like me, you have the images of Beauty and the Beast’s Belle sliding around on a library ladder ingrained in your memory. In complete transparency, you may or may not have fantasized about a library ladder of your own; I know I did. There’s something about them that sparks a little magic, which is why it’s appropriate that a library ladder is front and center in Atlanta’s first (and only) candle library, Candlefish. Walking through the Candlefish doors at Ponce City Market, visitors are greeted with the Fragrance Library, an enchanting collection of 100 candle fragrances waiting to be discovered. Standing tall in that library? You guessed it: a library ladder. Dreams do come true!
This sentiment, no matter how cliché it may seem, is one that has weaved itself throughout the Candlefish story. Founder Adam Fetsch says, “I’ve always wanted to own my own business, and I always thought it would be a restaurant, until I learned just how challenging that business is.” A restaurant industry veteran who has worked every job from dishwasher to general manager, Adam noticed the abundance of empty wine bottles lingering around his restaurant at the end of service. He was onto something when he discovered wine bottles made the perfect candle vessels, and he started Rewined in 2009, a candle company that makes candles mimicking wine scents. Adam has been a chandler ever since.
The success of Rewined somewhat serendipitously lead to the birth of Candlefish. “We started as candlemakers. We would produce candles at our workshop in Charleston, and every now and then to celebrate the release of new fragrances, we would throw a party,”Adam explains. “We thought it would be fun to let our party guests pour some candles, and they loved it! We knew we had something in sharing our candle-making experience and the love for what we do. Candlefish was born from that.” The first Candlefish location, a retail space and candle workshop, opened its doors near iconic King Street in Charleston in November of 2014, and the Atlanta store opened this past November, just two years later.
As its name indicates, Candlefish is not only a great place to “fish” for a candle, but according to Adam holds an identity “weird enough that you won’t forget it.” The store houses the candles that started it all, Rewined, 100 of Candlefish’s own unique blends, and several other brands of high-quality candles and goods. While the store offers a variety of items, it is far from cluttered and feels curated. Adam says that’s because “We have a combination of tried and true products that we know people love, and unique and quirky items that you just have to have. There is always something new.” Whether you stumble upon prints by 42 Pressed, candles by Lulie Wallace or jewelry by Ink + Alloy, the intention in each item is evident.
As a visitor, it’s not only about finding the perfect item, but rather the experience Candlefish offers as a whole. Chandlers, Candlefish’s fragrance and candle-making experts, are on hand to be your guide. They’re trained to help you find candles that best suit your nose. Adam says not to be intimidated. “For some, sniffing through them can be a truly daunting experience. Our chandlers will offer a few fragrances as a starting-off point. Based on your feedback on these, they’ll know what to try next. Our training is based on the understanding of fragrance families and fragrance notes that are common in many candles,” he explains. It goes without saying that your nose is in good hands, but if you’re not ready to find your own scent just yet, Candlefish is also a functioning workshop. The chandlers make candles on a daily basis, so set aside some time to watch them practice their craft, or sign-up for a workshop of your own. “Candlefish workshops are a perfect complement to the amazing dining opportunities at Ponce City Market. Grab a tasty meal, then bring a bottle of wine to enjoy with friends at one of our classes,” encourages Adam.
Not your average candle store, Adam is determined to share the Candlefish experience throughout the country, which means future locations in select markets. In the meantime, Candlefish is enjoying national success through a partnership with Anthropologie, proving the startup retailer has longevity. What’s next for the brand in Atlanta? Maker Breaks, where Candlefish “takes a break” from making candles for the day to bring in local makers to teach their craft instead. Makers giving other makers a platform to expand their business is a mission we can get behind.
Adam explains that at its core, Candlefish is an experience. “The scents, sights, sounds, interactions and activities all come together to create something special. We like to think of Candlefish as an inspiration destination.” The next time you find yourself wandering the rows of Ponce City Market, dip into Candlefish, find a signature scent, take a workshop, and see the storied library ladder for yourself.
Candlefish is located at Ponce City Market, 675 Ponce de Leon Ave. NE, Unit W118, Atlanta, Georgia 30308. Hours are Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Sunday, noon to 6 p.m. Learn more at candlefish.com.
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