If you haven’t enjoyed the subtle aroma of a hand-poured Cardea AuSet candle, you haven’t yet lived. We light them regularly around the office because their scents are so clean, warm, comforting, and modern—in fact, they’re featured in our 2019 Herbivore Gift Guide

Friends and founders Taylor Williams and Jennifer Bonato talk brand updates, aesthetics, and how to correctly burn candles below. Learn more about this woman-owned business that’s off-the-charts smart:

HB: We love the new look of your products.  Where do you find inspiration for your modern, minimal aesthetic?

CA: What we loved most in creating V2 were the places or the things we would draw inspiration from. This collection, we found the colours of the sky at dawn and dusk to be very influential in our updated pallette. We wanted to stay true to brand by keeping things visually clean, while integrating a fresh colour story.

Having a business partner who is such a close friend, we find that we’ll have the same idea, but with a different flare. This is where we can always come together and work to find the best look and feel for a collection, really creating something that we, ourselves, would want on our top shelf. 

HB: What’s new and exciting about your updated products?

CA: Our updated look is very much connected to growth; lessons learned over our first two years in business, and shifting of our own aesthetic tastes. The new look achieves a few things for us: we reduced our sizes overall so that formulas stay fresher throughout the product’s lifecycle.

The bottles have a more streamlined hand-feel, and our signature hand-stamped glass stays true to our eco-conscious and minimal roots. What excites us most about our new look, though, is how fresh and fun the updated colour palette is.

HB: Tell me about yours and Taylor’s journey as co-founders. How did your company come together?

CA: We’ve been friends for years, and always talked about starting a business together. We come from very different backgrounds. Taylor studied fashion arts & business, and worked for years in visual merchandising, and Jennifer has an MA in Critical Sociology and has published research on the social and political impacts of GMO’s in industrial agriculture. We founded Cardea in 2017 when we were both in transitional periods and feeling called to build something.

As consumers and lovers of skincare + beauty + wellness, there were elements of certain products and packaging that we found troubling. Our inspiration sort of snowballed from dreaming up our own versions of products we use on a daily basis, to searching for a brand name that could become the crux of our vision and philosophy.

HB: We love that Cardea AuSet is a vegan/plant-based brand. Will you tell us more about your business ethics?

CA: One of our goals in creating Cardea AuSet was to build a business with integrity. To us, this means aligning our business practices with our personal values: ensuring that we’re being sustainable and eco-conscious, community-minded, and giving back to causes that are important to us.

Since our launch, we’ve felt strongly about building a community and platform that allows us to collaborate with and support other entrepreneurs and creatives. We’ve provided sponsorship for conferences and events that support women’s leadership, created the Cardea Collective space to showcase the work and voices of our members, and collaborated with many of the brands that we love on different social media initiatives. We absolutely believe in collaboration over competition.

Building a successful business also gives us the capacity and platform to support the causes that are close to us. After hearing about the devastating fires in the amazon rainforest, we immediately started researching organizations who were doing work on the ground and with indigenous folks who were most impacted by the crisis. Amazon Watch stood out to us, and we held a campaign over Labour Day to channel a portion of our sales to the organization.

We’re working to expand our giving initiatives, and are excited to unveil how this will happen as we move closer to 2020.

HB: It’s so interesting that Cardea AuSet is named after two goddesses. How does the sacred influence your business?

CA: We launched Cardea AuSet on a New Moon in September 2017 to mark a new beginning. We try to tune into universal energy in every aspect of the business. Simple things like asking ourselves how something makes us feel, noting when we feel in alignment about something, and noticing & receiving signs that we’re on the right track allow us to bring sacred influence to Cardea AuSet. Things often feel so serendipitous – a sign might be one of us mentioning someone we’d like to work with in the future, and then receiving an email or message from that person. When you’re open to receiving and accepting messages from the universe, they seem to get stronger and are harder to deny.

HB: How does Cardea AuSet define and embrace femininity?

CA: We’re very much inspired by the sacred power of feminine energy. By feminine energy, we mean the life-giving work of mother nature: the cycles of growth, renewal, rebirth. Embracing femininity in this sense is choosing ingredients that are plant-derived, and free of genetic modification. It’s also important to us that we don’t define femininity by gender or as one side of the coin: femininity in itself is whole and complete.

HB: Do you have any tips for burning your beautiful candles? Our customers would like to know.

CA: For best results, the first burn is the most important. Make sure that you let the wax pool to the edge. This helps the candle burn smoothly down all sides without creating a tunnel. You always want to trim the wick before each burn, and *pro-tip* clean the surface of your candle regularly by wiping with a piece of old nylon pantyhose.

JB: I keep Dale on a shelf near my yoga mat, and like it light it a few minutes before I begin an early morning stretch. I’ll burn June while I’m soaking in the tub – it sits safely on the edge while I read and recharge.

TW: Cedar is my burn 24/7 kind of guy, I love to have it burning in the living room when I’m hanging out with friends or reading a book. June is my favourite bedside candle, I’ll light it when I’m starting my skin care rituals (especially when I can have an extra long facial massage) and fall asleep to the gentle lavender scents.

Shop: Cardea AuSet in the Herbivore Wellness Shop!

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