The Couple Behind Jade and Juniper Solves The Global Toxic Candle Problem In Their Culver City Kitchen

 Jared Brainerd and Jasmine Bouzaglou, founders of Jade and Juniper Goods, in their Culver City kitchen. 

Jared Brainerd and Jasmine Bouzaglou, founders of Jade and Juniper Goods, in their Culver City kitchen. 

Typically, six months into the relationship, a new-ish couple will celebrate the occasion with a dinner, maybe a getaway, definitely some gifts—but start a business? 

Jasmine Bouzaglou and Jared Brainerd of Jade and Juniper Goods aren't your typical couple. Two lovers coming from a design and tech background, they turned their weekend candle-making hobby into a business from their Westside love shack. 

"It's funny—when you say you're going to start something with your significant other, people are like, 'Oh, I don't know about that...' But honestly, why wouldn't you? They know you best and they can deal with your shit the most," Jared tells Beyond The Interview.

They both dabbled in DIY and gateway crafts and eventually made candles together in a joking way.

"I thought it was cool to make something, so, candles," Jasmine says. "And we always gave each other candles when we first started dating. Then it became like an inside joke. It was like strictly pins and candles. And six months in, it was like, 'Oh my god, a Palm Springs candle!'"

You can thank Jasmine, a fashion stylist and photographer who runs the social media for Jade and Juniper and other local businesses, for the company's creative direction and sustainable self-care concept.

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Jared, whose previous gigs at startups like Headspace and Winc as a UX (user experience) designer, handles their Insta-perfect branding and minimalist aesthetic.

Together, they embark on sniff test marathons and plop a piece of plywood atop their stove to turn their bungalow's kitchen into a makeshift laboratory. They even enlist friends and family for focus groups and market research. 

They also seek to solve the biggest problem with scented candles—most are made with paraffin wax, which becomes carcinogenic when burned. Instead, the company uses coconut oil, the most sustainable of the waxes (Beeswax, paraffin, soy and palm), which they say is more eco-friendly to harvest, can hold a higher fragrance concentration, and produces less soot. 

Jade and Juniper Goods compete in the same realm of candle purveyors, like Boy Smells and P.F. Candle Co., who hand-pour and brand their minimalist candles for a new class of consumers—ones who are willing to vote with their dollar and buy a scented product online without smelling it first. 

Jasmine and Jared sat down with us over Pad Thai to talk about their candle-making process, scent as a memory, partnership and relationship, and candles as de-facto gifts.

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Beyond The Interview: You guys are so DIY. How did you find out you could actually make a product people would come to buy?

Jared: Once we knew we wanted to make candles, we started, but we just messed up so many times. They were terrible creations.

Jasmine: So then we took a candle-making class in West L.A., and we basically learned how to do it correctly. And we switched from soy to coconut wax, and it was just so much easier. I also think, personally, candles have always been a self-care thing for me. Whenever I'd have a bad day, I'd always light a candle, meditate, do my Tarot cards. Ugh, I'm so L.A.

BTI: Drink a Kombucha.

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Jared: Yeah, my friends would all make fun of me with "mandle" [man-candle] jokes, like I would always have "mandles" around. And I felt like making them was weirdly nice. Compared to everything else, it's just so therapeutic and you melt the wax and—

Jasmine: You get into a flow.

Jared: Exactly. When you're in tech like me, you’re working in front of a screen all day and that's why I do things outside of that now—it has to be physical and retain its value.

BTI: I didn't think of that contrast of working in tech and then coming home and Zening out by just making a candle.

Jared: Really important, especially when you're working long hours, the last thing you want to do is stare at a screen, so you have to unwind in some way.

BTI: And that process feeds itself because then you get to light the candle. There are certain rituals that you do when lighting a candle. It's very specific. You're in your house, in your interior, using your own space and creating that space.

Jasmine: I find that I mostly light candles when I clean my room, I clean my house, then I light a candle. That's the reward for cleaning. You have a nice scent.

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BTI: It's so true. You make your bed, light that candle, and you're done. What's your most popular scent right now?

Jared: Baja. It's soft and warm. When you smell it, it's like the desert, and it's sage-y.

BTI: And with your candles, it transports you to a place.

Jared: Right. You smell it and it's mossy, like under a rock, in a really pleasant way.

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Jasmine: It's like a sweet floral. Warm, a little vanilla-y. Our candles are less high-end because they're in a jar, but I like that because you can take them with you on a trip.

Jared: Our new scent is Big Sur, which is much more fresh with eucalyptus, pine, and amber. Like a light foggy day.

BTI: Talking about candles is sort of like talking about like wine—at some point, you either like it or you don't.

Jasmine: A candle could be like clementine and air and I'd be like, 'I dont know? That smells good I guess.' It just depends on the quality of the oils and how you mix it.

BTI: How do you not let the scent overpower you? How do you keep it understated but still noticeable?

Jasmine: Our scents are very strong, but that's how we wanted it because I hate buying a candle and it has no scent. Scent is everything. We wanted ours to be strong enough to fill a whole room within five or 10 minutes. You're paying for the scent, you're paying for the smell. Ours isn't overwhelming, but it’s just the right amount of smell where you walk into a room and you're like, 'It smells good.'

Jared: Our biggest concern when we first made them was that they didn't smell as much. For some reason, I don't know if it's the wax, but it just contains smell so much.

Jasmine: I need that. Ours is very potent. The wax is non-scented and could honestly be used as perfume. If you melted our candle and blew it out, you can still use the melted wax as solid perfume.

Jared: And no Beeswax, just coconut oil.

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Jasmine: Not that Beeswax is bad for you—it's just bad for the bees.

Jared: Our packaging is super minimal, it's cardboard, and our mailing packages is a 100-percent recyclable box. It's funny because there are so many people who make candles, but the difference is that ours is made out of coconut oil. And of course the reason some candles are better than others is the way they burn. 

Jasmine: We did a lot of trial and error to make sure our candles didn't tunnel, which has to do a lot with the wick size and stuff like that.

Jared: It is strange. I think scent is really under-estimated as a sense.

BTI: Scent is supposedly the strongest sense tied to your memory. We could talk endlessly about what scents immediately take us back to our childhoods. But it's funny that what happens to us when we're young affects and stays with us the most. You guys are sticking to the motif of California, where you both are from, especially with the packaging and scent profiles—it carries a tinge of nostalgia and trendiness at the same time.

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Jared: I'm weirdly minimal about design. I think the best design is the least amount of design, in a way. Our label doesn't overwhelm you at all. It plays off the jar itself. The candle is the beautiful part rather than the label selling you on the candle.

BTI: The scent speaks for itself.

Jasmine: We're targeting ourselves, 24-year-olds and up, and we always want something more minimal that speaks for itself.

Jared: We're this weird generation that also owns candles from Marshalls. There's something nice about giving something hand-made to a friend.

BTI: And there's thought behind everything you guys do, from the design to the logo to the scent. What is it about giving a candle as a gift? When my friend bought a house, all she got were high-end, really expensive candles as housewarming gifts. Why do people do that?

Jared: It sounds really cheesy, but giving someone warmth and light and fire is basically a metaphorical statement that says, we hope you have a warm, happy life. People are drawn to having elements in their house, whether it's water from a fountain or earth from house plants. People don't like to feel like they have a plastic house—it adds life.

Jasmine: A candle just evokes so much emotion, and it's something you can keep burning, not just for a one-time use. You know it's going to be special to the person because they'll create new memories with it or evoke old memories with it.

Jared: There's a reason people like burning candles for intimate gatherings, whether it's holidays, dinner, or a massage—all those things are sensory, and it evokes a sensory experience.

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