Having A Moment: 15 Years with Archipelago Botanicals

When you’ve been in the ‘all-natural’ business as long as David Klass and Gregg Corzine have, you can appreciate the moment that’s happening right now in the marketplace. While all-natural candles, kitchen and bath products may once have been relegated to shadowy corners of crunchy grocery stores, they’re now spotlit in the best urban boutiques and online department stores. Natural products have come a long way. And natural candles, like the ones David and Gregg’s Archipelago Botanicals are so famous for, have come especially far. As much as we love a good, plain beeswax taper, lighting up a rainbow of natural travel candles in scents like Arugula, Currant and Tobacco really make our day.

After the past couple of decades, as the world has take a collective dip into all sorts of un-natural ingredients, it’s great to finally see a popular turn toward all-natural ingredients! As they celebrate fifteen great-smelling years of Archipelago Botanicals, we asked co-founders David and Gregg to reflect on how they’ve seen the market change and to share a few of their personal favorites…

Moment that sparked your commitment to natural products:

David Klass: My first introduction to essential oils was from Gregg. We hadn’t started the business yet, but I knew that he had been dragging his oldest son from doctor to doctor, trying to get some relief from the allergy symptoms that the poor kid was suffering with. In a desperate attempt to find a solution, he finally invited an aromatherapist into his home and the results were amazing. The symptoms went away, Gregg became a huge advocate of the benefits of natural oils and extracts and within a few months, Archipelago was born. Since day one we’ve been focused on trying to use natural ingredients responsibly, and that’s the one constant that will never change.

Product you are most proud of:

DK: A few years ago, Ritz-Carlton Hotels asked us to create a collection of candles that they could offer to their guests. I love it when I walk into a Ritz-Carlton now and they have a Ritz-Carlton by Archipelago candle burning at the front desk, or in their spa gift shop.

Ingredients you avoid:

DK: Parabens and phthalates. This is going to sound counterintuitive, but I try to avoid any bath or body product that doesn’t have a responsible preservative system in it. Most people won’t tell you this, but there are a few basic realities that we all have to work with: If a product has water in it, it needs preservatives to prevent bacteria from forming – and similarly, if a product has oil in it (and no preservatives), it will go rancid. Fortunately, the world has developed a lot over the last few years and we now have natural preservative systems for most of the blends that we can come up with in the lab. But I see products in stores all the time that say “preservative-free,” and I’m surprised. Unless it’s refrigerated when I buy it, and unless they tell me to refrigerate it when it gets home, I’m not taking it to the cash register.

Trends you love seeing in the industry:

Gregg Corzine: I love to see the mixture of high-end lifestyle with health and nature. Today, luxury is about more than what meets the eye; it’s about products that truly enhance our lives. Brand experience is mandatory.

DK: The fact that people are gravitating towards products that help them relax and take a break from their hectic lives. By the time we’re all done with our work and kids and life, most of us only have a few quiet moments during the day. It’s these moments that Archipelago serves. 

Biggest difference in the market between now and 15 years ago:

GC: Consumers are much more educated when it comes to the world market and global trends and this informs their purchases.

DK: When we started, most people didn’t know what an essential oil was. Today most people are very interested in trying to replace artificial with natural whenever they can – even when that means that it costs a little more. To me, that’s real progress.

Design that inspire you:

GC: I love to follow small startups that have pure passion for their products and services.

GC: Architecture, antiques, herbal gardens and French perfumes.

Scent you'll never get enough of:

GC: Havana from our Excursion Collection.

DK: Lust. It’s one of our Private Reserve fragrances.

Great trends happening in natural products:

GC: Outdoor urban living and a renewed interest in where our food comes from, how it’s grown and how it’s prepared.

Scent of the moment:

GC: Spice and floral in perfect balance.

DK: Citrus and green scents during the day (right now, my obsessions are Pomegranate Citrus from our Signature Collection in the office, and we’re using Arugula from AB Home in the kitchen). At night, I’m all about the smoother, sultrier woody notes. If you give me Havana, Black Forest or Lust, chances are, I’ll be happy.

Best use of the candles/Candle tip?

GC: Always trim wicks before lighting and only burn for a maximum of two hours. Blow out and only re-light after the wax starts to harden. Try burning more than one fragrance in a living area, and create your own scentscape. Don’t be afraid to experiment and follow your own olfactory intuition.

DK: When you have people over, light candles an hour before they arrive so that when they walk in there is an immediate impact. Choose your fragrances based on the mood you’re trying to create. Think crisp citrus, floral and open green scents during the day. At night, I like to go with the more meditative and seductive blends that have wood, amber and resin notes.

Personal favorite Archipelago product:

GC: Our new Babylon fragrance in the Excursion collection, our award-winning Milk products and the Arugula fragrance in our AB Home collection.

DK: People ask me all the time what my favorite Archipelago products are, and that’s really tough. It’s almost like asking me which of my two daughters I like most! But unlike daughters, fragrance is so personal that I obviously have my own preferences. Two of my all-time favorites are the Morning Mint Body Wash and our Black Forest candle. I use Morning Mint every single day. It’s filled with these naturally invigorating oils that fill the shower with this amazing scent that just seems to jump start the day. In terms of daily rituals, it’s right up there with my morning coffee. The Black Forest candle is aesthetically pretty to look at and, especially at this time of the year, we find ourselves using it a lot in the home. My wife loves fresh cut flowers, and the woody notes in that particular fragrance provide the perfect balance for all of the flowers that she drags in from the garden.

Obsession worthy product in the new line:

GC: Babylon from our Excursion Collection. It features cardamom, which is a great spice for blending, whether it’s fragrance or food.

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