Welcome to our first interview for our Meet the Maker series where we'll be chatting with the artists, creatives, makers and business owners behind some of the brands we partner with at Polly & Co!
First up, we take a moment to chat with Kaitlyn Wright, the maker (along-side her sister Lyla) behind the brand The Wandering Craftsmen. Kaitlyn talks about travel, the story behind their 1960's caravan, and her passion for looking after the planet which inspires their waste free approach to their eco-luxe pure soy candle range...
Hi there Kaitlyn! Let's kick things off with our quick 5....
Tea or coffee? Coffee
Flats or heels? Flats
Plan everything or go with the flow: A bit of both.
When I was growing up I wanted to be: A marine biologist
Describe your idea Sunday, including breakfast: Sunrise watagoes surf, coffee from the little stall, lighthouse walk then back to the beach to read a book under my umbrella until im too hot then back in the ocean. And repeat.
What’s your story? Tell us a bit about why you started The Wandering Craftsmen, and what you’re all about:
Growing up in Byron I had always loved nature and exploring. I spent most of my late teens and 20's travelling the world and at one point when I returned home from a trip I decided I wanted to settle down and create something. I enrolled in a small business course and started making resin surfboard fins. At the same time I had also started making candles, I didn't want to buy vessels which would then eventually just be thrown out again so I started cutting wine bottles. A friend who owned a florist (shoutout to Bower Botanicals) asked me if i would be interested in having the candles in her store. I thought why not, and from there more and more shops reached out and I decided to focus on the candles full time.
From there things grew quickly, although after a while I got the urge to travel again and asked my mum (bless her) if she would be able to fill orders just for a few months while I explored a little more, she agreed and I was on my way. The trip however turned into a 2 year stint and I could tell she was ready to get back to her art studio. I decided to come home and make some more candles!
From here I bought an old 1960's caravan and restored it to what is now The Wandering Craftsvan! At this point things really started to get busy and my sister came on board as a partner. She had been studying and living in the USA for 6 years and was ready to move home.
Since then things have just been wonderful. This truly is a family affair, our dad cuts all the bottles, our mum pours and collects them, I do most of the back end stuff and Lyla does all of the packing and shipping and we all help out each other however we can. We love what we do and the waste free nature of our candles.What’s your workspace like? What’s the story behind your vintage caravan?
The Wandering Craftsvan! She's our pride and joy. I bought her a few years back, no floors, no walls and a leaky roof. But so much potential! I layed pine flooring, put in wrap around workspace, fixed the broken windows, gave her a paint job, a new roof and had all of the electricals redone. We loaded her up on the back of a truck (she doesn't have wheels) and moved her to a beautiful property under the trees and right across from the ocean. I wanted to have a space that was different from the norm, a space that was open and had plenty of light and ventilation. We make all of our candles here, under the trees with the breeze flowing through, she stays cool in the Summer and cozy in the Winter. It truly is heaven!
What’s the process of making your candles?
Oh it's a process all right! First we collect all the recycled bottles. Then we soak off all the labels, cut the bottles, polish the sharp edge and clean them. Next we take them to the caravan, pour the wax and fragrance, label and box! We do everything in small batches to keep things fresh!
Why do you use recycled glass bottles, and where do you find them all?
We use recycled bottles because we feel it is our duty in a world of so much waste to do our best to be part of the solution, not the problem. We collect bottles from all over Byron and surrounding towns (if anyone has any please let us know! haha)
The biggest struggle for us is finding bottles. It really limits the size of orders we are able to fill. It also limits us from taking on larger clients. But we are ok with that. We want to keep things small and handmade, we don't want to buy vessels from china and add to landfill. We are very proud of our candles and what they represent.
What inspires your candle scents?
Our scents are each created to evoke an emotion whether it is to awaken, invigorate, reflect or pause. We try to give each scent its own space and create something for everyone. Whether it is floral, earthy, masculine, fresh or tropical we are always so amazed by how different people's tastes are. That each person's favourite is always so different.
Which scent is your favourite?
My favorite is Today I Am - Cucumber Basil. It is fresh, uplifting and clean. Although if it's a rainy day and I'm cozied up with a book Into the Woods- Tobacco Leaf & Hay is a must. But if it's a summer's day and I'm salty from the ocean Paradise found - coconut vanilla almond. I could go on I love them all!
What are some things people probably don’t know about you?
My sister and I were born in new Zealand and moved to Byron Bay when I was 3 and she was 6 months old. Our parents are both american and had visited Australia, fell in love with Byron and relocated there permanently after living in NZ for many years. We grew up in the ocean, exploring the hinterland and always creating. Our mum is an artist so the house was always full of projects and we were always encouraged to create and make things.
After finishing school I packed a bag and headed to Europe at 18. I spent the next 10 years traveling the world, working odd jobs, volunteering, working on yachts, and doing whatever I needed to do to get me to my next destination. I would return home for a few months, save some money then be on my way again.
I think this sense of wonder has made TWC what it is today. It has made me aware of the world around me, it has given me the passion to create something with my hands but also allowed me to be aware of just how much we need to look after this planet, it is the only one we have got.
We’re thrilled that The Wandering Craftsmen is stocked at Polly & Co. What is it about our brand that makes us the perfect fit?
We love your ethos, your support of small australian businesses and your passion for low impact brands.
What’s next for you? Any exciting new projects or plans in the pipeline for 2021?
ABSOLUTELY! We are hoping to bring out another scent in the near future (supply chain permitting). Also Lyla has just given birth to our first ever little Coast! This has sparked a new direction we are hoping to pursue also. Involving supporting communities and organisations through collaboration with artists and makers. So watch this space!
Want more of The Wandering Craftsmen?
Shop the range here: The Wandering Craftsmen
Follow The Wandering Craftsmen's journey on Facebook here: Facebook
Follow The Wandering Craftsmen on the 'Gram here: Instagram
We hope you enjoyed the interview! Stay tuned for the next interview in our Meet the Maker series.