The story of Rosy Rings begins with my father.
My father stood 6’3”, grew up on a farm in South Texas, and served as a lieutenant colonel in the Air Force. He drove a 1965 Chevy short-bed truck and drank Olympia beer from the can. We lived in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where he stopped his weekly trash collection, preferring instead to pile the bed of his truck sky high with our refuse, which he drove to the dump himself. He was a man’s man. He was also crafty. I vividly recall his obsession with macramé. Every plant in our home was securely enrobed in a woven jute jail cell. He made me a pink macramé owl which I recently gave to my daughter. He didn’t stop with macrame, but devoted many hours to other crafts of the 1970’s, everything from wire pictures to Tiffany-style stained glass lamps.
All this is a way of saying that craft is in my DNA. So is candlemaking. When I was eleven, my sister got a candle-making kit from the Sears Roebuck Catalog. It was gathering dust until I adopted it. The kit contained enough wax to pour exactly one mushroom and one owl candle. I melted and re-melted the wax so I could pour it again and again. To me it seemed perfectly natural ten years later to continue this obsession and start making jar candles in my tiny kitchen. I was already assembling dried flower wreaths and other creations, so candles seemed to be the perfect way to expand my line.
I started by filling tiny honey jars with wax. I was at once intrigued and irritated by how such a seemingly simple operation was so challenging. Why did the wax look frosty inside of the glass? Why weren’t the candles staying lit? How do you get wax off linoleum? To my dismay, I discovered that candlemaking wasn’t as simple as it seemed. Over the course of the next few years I taught myself the science of combining wax, fragrance and wick. After much trial and error I learned to make decent vessels and pillars, yet I was restless. I have never seen the point in creating something that isn’t beautiful and unique. Why bother, I thought? I discovered how to combine the two when I began to take apart my dried floral creations and encase the roses, daisies and grasses in the fragranced wax. Rosy Rings botanical candles were born.
Once I started to have weekly deliveries of half a ton of wax deposited at my tiny, rented duplex, it became obvious to me, and to my landlord, that it was time to find a new location for Rosy Rings. My first space was a 1000-square-foot quonset hut in a rundown area of Denver. Within six months another move was in order. This time it was to a 4000-square-foot space in a dilapidated, wood floored warehouse. I also began to acquire employees, a few of whom are still with me more than twenty years later. We stayed for as long as possible in that old warehouse and struggled to make the business a success. I was a designer and a CEO, but managing a rapidly growing company was not in my wheelhouse. The years seemed to fly by: there were good and not-so-good times, but we held on.
As Rosy Rings has grown, inspiration has arrived in many forms. Often it’s through conversation with my collaborators. I am fortunate to work with an amazing stylist, illustrator, photographer, mold-maker, and graphic designer, but so many employees at Rosy Rings, from our CEO to our warehouse workers, are artistic and have an eye for beauty and craftsmanship.
Much of my inspiration comes from working in my garden. I live in a 100-year-old brick bungalow with my husband and two young children. The yard is modest, yet I find the possibilities for creating beauty are endless. I work closely with Bob, a lovely gentleman who presses most of the dried flowers and leaves you see in our products. Many times I will press a specific flower or plant for the purpose of creating a new fragrance. I have a collection of vintage flower presses and they do the job quite handily. If the resulting dried bloom shows promise, I contact Bob and he sets about pressing thousands upon thousands of flowers. My garden time is sometimes quiet and meditative, but just as often my son and daughter act as my assistants and water the plants and pull the weeds. This time in urban nature seems to calm even my most enthusiastic assistant.
However, I find I am most inspired when tinkering in my studio. I often try to find time to myself, even if it means working on the weekend, so that I can let my mind wander when no one is around. I experiment with new flowers, fragrances, and molds. For me the process of making prototypes involves much repetition, and some frustration, as I struggle to create something special. A new botanical candle design is born out of dozens, if not hundreds of failures.
As I think about my work with Rosy Rings, I realize why my father was drawn to crafting. The process of creating with one’s hands can be meditative. Of course there’s also the gratification that comes from producing something beautiful. Although he died when I was 16, I’ve always felt connected to him through the creative drive I know he passed on to me.