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Collaboration by Candlelight

In Conversation with Carli Lampley of Apotheke

As chief marketing officer and creative director of home fragrance company Apotheke, Carli Lampley wears many hats. On a given day, she might be reviewing marketing plans, approving artwork, brainstorming fragrance concepts, working on the website, or designing product boxes. Her role also includes managing collaborations like the Apotheke x Mast Market Heirloom Candle that we’re thrilled to debut together.

With notes of tomato leaves, bergamot zest, patchouli, and garden soil, the scent is inspired by country living. It’s meant to evoke the sensation of being outdoors in Northern Westchester or the Hudson Valley, collecting herbs and vegetables from the garden. “It’s this farm air, fresh produce, organic fragrance that will fill your home and make it feel like you’re outside even when you’re in,” Carli describes. “We loved that narrative.”

To create the collaboration candle, Apotheke experimented with sustainable materials that meet our high standards, like all-natural apricot wax and essential oil-based fragrances. The result is a product that we all proudly stand behind and can’t wait to share with you. Here, Carli talks more about the development process, as well as how she landed this dream job in the first place.

(The following interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.)

Photography by Kate Jordan

Mast Journal: How did the Apotheke x Mast Market Heirloom Candle come to be?

Carli Lampley: We've been chatting with Mast for over a year, trying to figure out something impactful to do with them. I've been with Apotheke for 10 years. I was one of the first full-time employees. I signed on with Chrissy and Sebastian, the two founders, to help them figure out what building the company would look like. So when we come up with collaborations, Chrissy and I work really, really closely together.

Back in the day, we just were huge fans of Mast. We loved their creative and how they did everything and their production. So a year or so ago, I got a contact at Mast and we were like, ‘We should do something fun with them. This would be a dream come true.’ But it took a little bit of time to figure out what we wanted to do. 

We decided it would be really fun for us to design their signature fragrance. We wanted to create a great scent that represented what they believe in and obviously their commitment to sustainability. We got to experiment with an all-natural apricot wax. We got to experiment with some essential oil-based fragrances, which ensure that we're staying within that sustainability goal. And we had a lot of fun developing this year-round scent that illustrates the company stands for.

MJ: That’s amazing. How did you decide on the packaging?

CL: We worked really closely with Rick [Mast, co-founder of Mast Market]. I chatted with him a bunch about what he wanted and how close he wanted it to look to their own packaging. We also had to make sure that it stayed authentic to us, but we wanted it to look really great on the Mast Market shelves and to align with their merchandising so that it's recognizable to the customer. ‘Authenticity’ and ‘elevated’ are probably the two words that I say to my team so often that they're so sick of hearing them . I just want to make sure that when we do a collaboration that it looks true to the brand and that it also has an ode to us. 

We would like to make this a year-round thing. Hopefully it won't be limited edition, so we can build on this. We have a graphic designer that works with us really closely and he's amazing. He made a few versions of it and then we tweaked them a little bit. It was pretty easy because we connected on the vision. It's pretty simple. It has the same coloring as the packaging of Mast Market. It has a soft touch to the box and then just beautifully placed wording. There's no artwork. It's just very clean and organic. 

MJ: Beautiful! And how did you first get your job at Apotheke?

CL: About 12 years ago, Williamsburg was really in development. It was right by the water and the city—it was up and coming. It wasn't crazy expensive to live there, so a lot of makers were moving there. The Brooklyn Flea wasn't even a thing yet, so I worked at a shop called Kings County Salvage with this really cool girl, Val, who was the epitome of real Brooklyn. She went to tons of farms and she'd find the coolest stuff. She'd salvage it and bring it back to Brooklyn to resell. I was helping her with that business, and eventually I was basically running the whole store, merchandising it, and making it look beautiful.

One day, I was hanging an animal head on the wall, when Chrissy, her husband, and their little dog walked in. She and Val were good friends at the time and they were talking about how she makes soap out of our kitchen. She asked Val, ‘Should we put it in a box?’ And I'm listening to the conversation, being nosy, since there were only two of us in the store. I turned around and I was like, ‘Don't box it. You have to wrap it. That's part of the story.’

Fast forward two years, I moved back to Brooklyn. I had just gotten married and I was looking for a job, so Val reached out to me and was like, ‘You need to go find Chrissy. She's pregnant and she needs help. Do what you did for me.’ I found her at the Brooklyn Flea. From there, it just kind of happened. I was like, ‘Okay, let's get a website up for you. Let's start selling. Let's streamline wholesale.’ Two weeks later, she had the baby and I was left there to figure it out. 

I worked with her and Sebastian really closely. Eventually, we moved from a tiny studio to a bigger place in Red Hook to this beautiful place we’re in now. We took two more people on, then took four more people on. It was super organic growth. I've done everything in the company from wrap to pack to box to ship. 

MJ: Wow! That’s awesome. Did you have any professional background that trained you to help grow a company?

CL: I've always been creative. I actually sang. I had run a few companies when I was younger. I was a manager when I was 16 or 17 because I just loved business, but I actually had a singing career. I decided that I didn't want to do that anymore at 19 or 20 and decided that I wanted to do something more creative with business. And I just started seeking out business owners that I could help and that I could learn from. That's how I met Val and then Chrissy. I've taken classes, but working at Apotheke has been the best learning experience ever.

MJ: Totally. What are your visions for the future of the brand?

CL: Home fragrance is an amazing business. You can get stuck in a little niche, but home is where Chrissy's heart is. She fell into fragrance and she loves it because it brings that nostalgic feeling and that warm feeling wherever you are. When you light a candle, it changes your mood. It helps you just escape for a minute. Home is a really big focus for us and making sure that the culture of the company and our narrative is speaking to life. We're a luxury brand, but we also want to keep it really relatable so that we don't become unattainable.

MJ: Definitely.

CL: I would love to see more narrative and more stories about people, about home, about gathering, family, traveling, memory makers, and then developing lines about that. Staying creative is really important. Doing things you believe in and staying true to stories that you live yourself is super important in staying authentic. So making sure that these collaborations that we're doing are really fun and a bit niche and not just to do a collaboration. Actually believing in something is really important in the future of continuing to build Apotheke.

MJ: One hundred percent. Do you have a favorite Apotheke fragrance?

CL: I’ve been asked that question so many times and it's so hard to answer every single time. 

MJ: Choosing your favorite of all time must be so tough. What about your favorite Apotheke fragrance of the moment?

CL: For fall and winter, I'm a big Black Cypress person. Bringing that scent inside makes you feel like you're in the mountains. Well, I live in the mountains, but it makes me feel like I do. I also love our Cedarwood Ginger from our Eden collection and our Sea Salt Grapefruit. I want people to know me for those fragrances when they walk into my home. 

MJ: Those sound delicious. What is your favorite thing about working for Apotheke?

CL: Making and marketing a product that I believe in is really what matters to me. I don't like being inauthentic and I know that you don't really find that in the marketing world. Don't get me wrong—I would love to double our sales next year. We're trying to increase our traffic and all of those things, but it's harder to do it without selling out. And that's one thing that Chrissy has never done. Some companies have built themselves up and sold in three years, which is amazing. But the reason why we’ve had such steady, organic growth is because we want to make sure we never sell out. We’ve never sold a product that we didn't really like or use or have in our own bathrooms. 

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