When Alison Genet talks about Santa Barbara, she travels back in time. She remembers 1992, marrying Jason in Valencia and driving up the coast without booking a hotel room for a spontaneous Santa Barbara honeymoon. She stored the names of the places they explored deep in her memory - the Rose Garden at the Mission, Butterfly Beach, Figueroa and State Street.
Candles also take her back. It's 1998 in her Arizona kitchen and she is busy experimenting, trying to crack the code of perfect pillar candles. She loved them - bright, tall and richly fragrant. These kitchen-made candles weren't for sale. They were gifts from the heart - at the holidays, friends' celebrations and all through the year.
Over the years, Alison and Jason waited for their time to return to Santa Barbara. In 2010, they moved into a little house on big hill overlooking the ocean and when The Blue Door opened in Santa Barbara's Funk Zone, Alison was one of the first vintage collectors to move in. Then she started selling candles.
Ingredients were easy - clean, domestically harvested soy and cotton, zinc-free wicks. Alison has always said fresh air is probably the cleanest thing you can breathe but next to that are her candles. Fragrance was the challenge and its solution was "scent parties". She ordered hundreds of fragrances and gathered all her friends. Everyone sorted scents into piles of good, better, best. The best scents were grouped and carefully reimagined into combinations that paid homage to California's southern and central coast. Lavender for the San Ysidro Valley, Apple for Ojai, Grapefruit for Goleta "The Goodland" and one for Jason who grew up in the Ventura citrus groves.
Santa Barbara Apothecary Co. started with 5 or 6 scents which Alison sold out of a vintage flower cart at The Blue Door. Never did anyone think they would blow up to this extent. A whole wall had to be constructed for enough candle stock to meet the demands. Scents expanded to 16 while she added a travel candle, reed diffusers and most recently room sprays.
Our goods are now sold in stores up and down the California coast and Alison is just getting started. When she's not hand-pouring every single candle, she still mixes custom scents for her daughters or the occasional friend. And she always has something new cooking up for you.