Most of you know that I have a love of vintage goods - particularly those from France - and as such, own a company that sells beautiful pieces that come with a story. I recently discovered a lovely gal in Vancouver who shares the same love of vintage items - specifically teacups - and have repurposed them into gorgeous candles under a company called Alice and Hare. Once the candles are completely burned up, you can reuse the teacups themselves. It’s a brilliant, beautiful concept that reduces waste while making your home smell wonderfully with a piece of decor that comes with a history. Each piece is unique with the candles made by hand - it’s rare for her to be able to source multiple teacup designs. I recently had the pleasure of trying one for myself and I’m quite smitten with the product. Scroll to the bottom for a special offer for readers of The Vancouverite.
I recently sat down with Alicia Doiron, owner of Alice and Hare, to talk about the teacups, the brand and her biggest learning moment to date since starting the company.
Talk to me about the concept of Alice and Hare.
The concept of Alice and Hare really started from my love of vintage and handmade items, ecofriendly products and my love of Alice in Wonderland, a favourite childhood book of mine. I really wanted to incorporate the lessons of Alice in Wonderland into my brand; as an adult you learn about never losing your sense of wonder; to go after your dreams. Be unique in who you are. I wanted to mesh all of my favourite things, my favourite beliefs into one brand.
When did you decide to open the store?
I opened the store in October 2015. I started doing local vintage handmade markets, which I still continue to do. I then opened an Etsy store followed by my own online store, so it’s been about 4 or 5 months.
So why teacups as a vessel?
I remember having little tea parties with my grandma when i was a child. Even my grandfather loved drinking his tea out of teacups. It’s from my English side; buried deep in tradition. My grandma recently gave me a bunch of her teacups; it’s a nostalgic feeling I get from drinking out of them. I toyed with the idea of making them into candles. Once I tried it, I started making them for family and friends - and decided to continue going with that idea.
So what’s your background?
I’ve changed careers a few times: dabbling in branding, web design, content writing and copywriting. These were all areas that allowed me to be creative but it was all very computer-focused. Alice and Hare allowed me to be hands on and to create product from scratch.
How did you learn how to make candles?
It was honestly just through a lot of research and a lot of testing. I’ve always loved candles and the ability to create your own scents. I am very sensitive to different perfumes. A lot of people are more and more conscious of chemicals and how much of it is in their home. So candles allow me to offer a natural product.
Do you expect to expand your product line?
That’s something that I’ve been thinking about but that’s further out in the future. I’m potentially thinking about doing some sort of eco-friendly skin care line, body mist, etc. but I’m just currently trying to focus on candles.
What’s your favourite scent in a candle?
One of my favourite scents is from my line where I infuse wild rose, patchouli and vetiver. It’s a subtle, floral scent without being overpowering. I also love French vanilla; it may seem kind of boring but it’s one of my favourites.
What’s your biggest learning moment so far in your business?
With the very first market that i did, i really didn’t have any expectations. It was just a learning process. I was watching how customers interact with my products; testing the price points; noticing what scents they’re drawn to, for instance. It’s a continual learning process.
It seems like you’re quite conscious of chemicals. How important is it to your brand to be ecofriendly and sensitive to the environment?
It’s something I’m going to strive towards more in the future. It’s one of the reasons why I wanted to create ecofriendly candles. There are already so many chemicals in your home that even small changes like using ecofriendly candles - like soy based ones with essential oils - is a small gesture but it can make an important impact.
Nowadays we’re seeing a return in design to vintage/industrial style. What part of the idea of nostalgia is important to your brand - and the way that design is moving towards? Do you see people wanting more of a history or a story to their product or experience?
Growing up I had a mother who was very crafty. She would recycle and upcycle things (taking something and repurposing it) - that’s where i get my love of being creative. She taught me to not be wasteful. I feel like we live in this world that we’re so connected to all the time - we’re always on our computers or devices and everything’s fast and everything’s now. I feel like the pace is beginning to slow down, where everything is crafted and about the quality rather than only about quantity. Other people are starting to crave that; you see it in Vancouver. The idea of feeling more connected with your family and your family’s roots; more of an authentic experience. That’s what I want my brand to be as well - it’s always been important to me.
So you talk about going after your dreams - do you have a mentor? Who do you learn from and who inspires you?
It’s always been my Mom. She’s always been such a hard worker. Since I was little, she told me not to follow the crowd but to be unique, be creative and use your imagination. Being a single mom she was a very hard worker but she always had fun and made work fun; not to be afraid of the work but enjoy the creative process. As a result, I’ve always been more drawn to those types of people. My husband also owns his own startup and so i see how much fun he has and how hard he works being an entrepreneur and so I surround myself with a great group of people.
Where do you see Alice and Hare in 5 years?
I can see myself developing skincare, body mists, fragrance for your home; any natural products. But for right now, I’m just focusing on getting candles into stores in Vancouver, across Canada and internationally. That’s all in my 5 year plan.
88 West Pender
noon to 7 pm
Valentine’s Day East Side Flea
February 13 and 14
1882 Adanac (at Victoria Drive)
10 am to 4 pm.
Special Offer for Vancouverite readers: 15% off, enter code VANCOUVERITE15 at aliceandhare.com