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Otherland Moves Offline with Permanent SoHo Store

July 14, 2022
July 14, 2022

In late June, digitally native candle brand Otherland opened its first permanent physical store. The 700-square-foot storefront in New York City’s SoHo neighborhood was a goal of co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Abigail Cook Stone since she launched the brand in 2017 along with Sayyid Markar. 

“We’ve always wanted to open a physical store, so opening our SoHo flagship is a dream come true,” Stone told BeautyMatter. Interior designer Sasha Bikoff brought the essence of Otherland, which fuses Cook’s love of art with her passion for candles, to life.

The store mimics the brand’s emphasis on visual design and storytelling. It features seasonal candle collections, the day-to-day core product lineup, full-size and mini candles, store-exclusive merchandise, gifting, and a dedicated community space for events. Each purchase comes with a matchbox. Otherland candles retail for $36.

The store is more than just a showroom for experiencing the candles. “Profitability matters—the goal of the store can’t just be that it’s experiential anymore. Customers need to transact. The era of the experiential-only playground store is over,” Stone states.

More than two years in development, the project could be the first of other brick-and-mortar locations. “Given that scent is the strongest trigger of memory and emotion, combined with our expressive, maximalist approach to product design and brand, creating a physical representation of our product and brand experience felt like such a natural fit,” Cook says. “SoHo is an international shopping destination and right in our backyard as a NYC-based company, so we thought it would be the perfect place to debut and test our new store format.” 

Otherland tested physical presentations at a pop-up that kicked off in May outside of Rockefeller Center. Temporary spaces could be in the plans to experiment in markets like Los Angeles and Boston.

The store adds another dimension to selling the candles, layering on healthy sales built via the internet based on the products’ art and design. “The world of Otherland is about color, pattern, maximalism—we want it to be a conversation piece that transforms your space and mood. The product has to spark an emotional connection with the consumer, and we work with incredible artists for every new season to create that and tell each collection’s story,” says Stone. “This visual-forward approach to scent has allowed us to initially grow and scale the brand through digital channels: our direct website and social media accounts,” she explains. Otherland candles are also sold at Sephora and Nordstrom with wholesale producing about 15% of sales.

“Given that scent is the strongest trigger of memory and emotion, combined with our expressive, maximalist approach to product design and brand, creating a physical representation of our product and brand experience felt like such a natural fit."
By Abigail Cook Stone, Chief Executive Officer, Otherland

What Stone says distinguishes Otherland in the crowded candle market is that the candles are objects of art. The brand is more than just a candle or another scent, but rather a “consumable experience.” In addition to its storytelling positioning, Otherland uses clean-burning wax and nontoxic ingredients. The candles are sustainably poured in the US into a glass tumbler designed for reuse.

Otherland’s sales have soared more than 250% year over year the last two years. The brand raised $2.7 million in seed funding in 2019 followed by a Series A. 

Currently, the top seller is Rattan, a blend of sandalwood, golden amber, and warm musk (created by legendary perfumer Frank Voelkl). “From our seasonal assortment, Stone Fruit from the Beach Club Collection, with notes of beach plum peach skin, and brown sugar is a hit in store, we’re also selling lots of our mini-candles along with store-exclusive branded merchandise and USB lighters,” Stone says. 

The candle market, which burned bright during the pandemic, is still on fire, says Cook. “The pandemic was a great time for us to build trust with the direct-to-consumer skeptics as buying online became the preferred method. We have very strong retention with all of our collection drops and seasonal editions.” 

Looking forward to the second half of 2022 and beyond, Stone predicts consumers will put a greater emphasis on products with wellness attributes, scents that dovetail with self-care routines and formulas comprised of clean ingredients. Otherland is well positioned for those three trends, she says, especially the latter thanks to its products which are cruelty, paraben and phthalate free and vegan.


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