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Conversations with Anne Fletcher

Today we’d like to introduce you to Anne Fletcher.

Hi Anne, can you start by introducing yourself? We’d love to learn more about how you got to where you are today?
I came to Los Angeles from France in November 1993, two months before the Northridge earthquake. Even though it may not have been the most welcoming experience, I had already fallen in love with the immense diversity of Los Angeles on so many levels and decided to stay. The next 20 years were mostly devoted to exploring California, raising my daughter and son while holding various administrative positions, mostly in the education field but also in property management for the past few years. I was always drawn towards artists and their stories but never took the time to fully explore my own creativity until the beginning of 2020. While staying home a lot more than usual at the beginning of the pandemic, I decided to stop recycling my wine bottles every week and try to upcycle them into sustainable home décor objects. Having always loved candles and anything eco-friendly, it quickly made sense to transform bottles into unique vessels for natural candles. UnWined L.A. Studio was born!

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
Even though I had a clear vision of the entire concept, from the materials and the scents to the design, I had to learn how to transform the bottles and craft the candles every step of the way, which involved a lot more than I had first imagined! I contacted glass specialists and received great advice, guidance and encouragement. I tried several cutting and polishing techniques before finding the ones I was comfortable with. I also tested several waxes and settled for the most natural option I could find with a great heat throw from a California based supplier. It took many trials and errors, fragrance and wick tests – my kitchen and dining table were invaded with candles for weeks – until I was satisfied with the finished product. I started selling directly from my website at the beginning of December, just in time for the Holidays.

One of the biggest challenges I faced was that most holiday craft markets were canceled due to COVID-19 and choosing one of my candles is very personal. There are multiple scents and a variety of wine, Champagne and other liquor labels to choose from, making it a much better experience in person than online. I am looking forward to participating in several outdoor markets this year, starting with Artists & Fleas on February 6 from 11:00am to 4:30pm. It is a vibrant market in the outdoor lot of Westminster Elementary School with 50+ makers of all sorts – creators, designers, tastemakers, vintage collectors – every Saturday for a fabulous lineup of art, design, food trucks and vintage.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
I take pride in handcrafting one-of-a-kind wood wick candles and really enjoy the entire process. I especially love engaging with my local community, neighbors, restaurants and friends who donate their empty bottles of wine and Champagne mostly, but also water, liquor, sake, etc… Any bottle with an interesting shape or label has the potential to become a beautiful candle! I also try to match labels and scents together as much as I can, as for example some wine labels tend to look more masculine than others, some feel more festive, some are reminiscent of flowers or spring, etc…. I clean, cut, polish the edges of each bottle, one at a time, and place the appropriate wooden wick at the bottom of each bottle. I chose to work with wooden wicks instead of the more traditional cotton wick for several reasons: they don’t “mushroom” the way cotton wicks do, which means minimal carbon build-up and they give that distinct crackling sound when burning.

I then hand pour a premium blend of natural soy and coconut wax into each bottle, in very small batches, one fragrance at a time. I would like to mention that I also make vases and do custom orders. I enjoy giving a second life to some of your bottles that have a special meaning to you and turn them into unique memory candles. I aim to deliver unique and ethical products. I make sure to source only clean and sustainable materials, from the vegan wax (a premium wax blend of natural soy and coconut) to the wooden wicks, the fragrances, dust covers, labels and packaging. I will continue seeking more ways to reduce my impact on the environment and am always open to hearing about new sustainable options. I am committed to donating 10% of annual profits to a local non-profit organization that focuses on programs towards a zero-waste lifestyle.

What would you say have been one of the most important lessons you’ve learned?
It took me too many years to take a chance and use my creativity but I realize now that there is nothing more rewarding than working on a project from start to finish and receiving positive feedback from a happy customer! Persistence and trial and error pay off! After the second month of constantly testing waxes, wicks and fragrances and not obtaining the clean burn I was looking for, I had spent a lot of money and was ready to give up and keep this as a personal hobby. But I persisted and I finally found the right combination of each ingredient to produce the sensory experience I was looking for. I am so glad I did as this is only the beginning. I love what I do and am looking forward to developing many more relationships and partnerships with restaurants, wineries and boutiques.

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I believe my candles make unique gifts for wine lovers! I will be part of a Valentine’s pop up event on February 12th and 13th , 1pm – 5pm at Shop Morpheus, 12027 Venice blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90066. Hope to see you there!

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