Expectant parents Amy and Craig Davies made a lifestyle choice four years ago, and it gave birth to a small-but-growing Truckee business called Rescued Wine.
The couple are not vintners. They make and wholesale candles.
The Davies’ company name points to the fact that they collect wine bottles discarded by Tahoe-area casinos, restaurants and other businesses and repurpose them as candleholders. They cut the bottles in half and fill the bottoms with a wick and soy wax. Rescued Wine isn’t their first foray into candles.
Craig Davies founded Tahoe Candle 14 years ago, when he was still single. He made sales at festivals, craft fairs and other events, and his inventory grew until it overran first his kitchen and then his garage. He eventually leased space for his production in midtown Truckee and opened a retail shop downtown.
“It wasn’t anything I planned,” he said. “I started making candles; people wanted them. One store led to two stores. Two stores led to three stores. I did craft shows and art festivals. People really came to those shows to find artisan, handmade goods. You couldn’t go online and just buy it like you can now. There was no etsy.com. There was no Pinterest.com.”
Davies retailed candles seven days a week, 360 days a year, at his store. He didn’t mind so much time there while he was on his own, and he and his wife ran the business together after they married in 2008. But four years ago, when Davies learned he would become a dad for the first time, he knew he wanted weekends and holidays with his wife and child.
Davies didn’t see a way to guarantee that while running a boutique, so the couple decided to take a risk and turn their business into a wholesale operation.
“We closed the store downtown, but we were still operating Tahoe Candle online and at events,” he said. “Rescued Wine was born out of my passion for creating handmade, creative candles and having a passionate recycling background. … My wife, who is also my business partner, loved wine and animals.”
Rescued Wine donates 2 percent of its revenue to animal rescue organizations around the country, Davies said. They ship their candles to 600 boutiques across the nation, Davies said, and he expects to sell roughly 20,000 candles this year. Their sales have doubled every year since they began shipments.
The fragrances of their candles take their inspiration from wine varietals. Cabernet, their No. 1 seller, has the aroma of chocolate, sweet grapes and herbs, while their champagne candle’s bouquet is reminiscent of fresh cotton blossoms. The executive editorial team of Martha Stewart Living recently chose Rescued Wine as a finalist in the Martha Stewart American Made Contest, which spotlights small, handmade product makers. Rescued Wine didn’t win an award, but the exposure at www.marthastewart.com helped them land two new retail customers.
On the contest website, the magazine states: “We believe we are in the midst of a shift in our culture where creative entrepreneurs are defining a new American economy. From Detroit to Des Moines, Spokane to St. Louis, people are choosing Main Street over mini-malls – supporting the local and the handmade.”
Craig Davies said he’ll let other businesses chase world domination. He wants Rescued Wine to keep its production in Truckee and maintain its artisan craftsmanship.
“We’re not looking to be the biggest candle company, the next Yankee,” he said. “We’ve been approached by big companies, and I’ve turned them down.”
Human hands do virtually everything at Rescued Wine, Davies said. The couple and their staff of five sort the bottles, cut them, clean them, grind the edges and pour the wax. They also set up collection bins at each business that agrees to upcycle its bottles.
Rescued Wine uses only the bottom halves of the green wine bottles for their candles, but they get a variety of liquor bottles in their collection bins. There’s the intense cobalt blue of SKYY vodka bottles and the sky-blue of Bombay Sapphire gin.
The diversity of colors gave Amy Davies an idea. Why not repurpose the necks of all those bottles into pendants for necklaces or hoops for earrings?
For the jewelry, they polish the necks of green and chestnut-colored bottles to a sea-glass finish and sell them at rescuedwinecandles.com. Other colors are available only at festivals.
The business has allowed the Truckee couple to remain artisans, support recycling and animal welfare, plus spend time with daughter Makenna and their family’s newest addition, William.
“It isn’t just about selling the candles,” Craig Davies said. “We took in four times the bottles than we originally sold, so we were rescuing these bottles from landfills. Then as the company grew, in the beginning stages, we brought in the animal rescue part of it. So, we weren’t just rescuing bottles, we were rescuing animals.”
Call The Bee’s Cathie Anderson, (916) 321-1193. Follow her on Twitter @CathieA_SacBee.