Wear America x Pommes Frites Candle Co.

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Introduce yourself, your business name and where you are from.
My name is Kristen and I’m half owner of Pommes Frites Candle Co. I grew up in Northern Virginia, but I currently live in downtown Los Angeles. By the way… our business name, Pommes Frites may translate to belgian fries, but it’s actually just a goofy play on my last name (Pumphrey). That’s what happens when you start a business at age 22!

You made your first candle at the age of 12, what inspired you to do that?
My sister brought a candle-making kit home from Michael’s craft store, to make and sell candles for a home economics fair. In true little sister, “me too!!” style, I learned to make candles and continued to make them for easy gifts throughout high school. When I started my business after college, it was a no-brainer to make candles again, I already had the tools!

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Tom and Kristen in their studio 

What does the day in the life of Kristen Pumphrey entail?
During the week I usually work from 9 a.m. – 6:30 p.m. or so. Work usually entails emailing with the shops that stock us (both independent boutiques and our national brands), developing new scents, making sure all the orders are heading out and receiving supplies. I usually take time each day to post on our instagram (@pfcandleco), play with our dog (an Italian greyhound named Max), and go for an iced coffee. Weekends, I love to explore our neighborhood in DTLA, or get away from it all on a quick camping trip.

Your candles smell amazing, what inspires your scents and how do you know which scents to combine?
Thank you! There’s two ways we go about picking scents: brainstorming sessions and direct inspiration. We do a scent brainstorming session once or twice a month, where we will pull out all the oils we have on hand, dip blotting strips, and just start smelling combinations together. A little bit of this, add some of that, mix the oils together. Then the whole team will stop what they’re doing and smell the results. For direct inspiration, we may think something like “we want to create a scent inspired by Big Sur” and we will take a trip to that location and smell everything we can, just taking it all in, and taking notes. This usually gives us a base to start with, a few notes that were prominent to us, then we will take that inspiration to our brainstorming sessions for further development.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?
Travel and nature are huge inspirations, visiting national parks, camping, or even visiting a nearby botanical garden. We want to produce scents that invoke feeling or meaning and that also smell really, really good.

Can you share the making of a soy candle with us?

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Our soy candles are poured in small batches, but we work from a larger batch to get there. We will melt anywhere from 50-150 lbs. of soy wax at a time. Once the soy wax is melted and has come up to temperature, we add fragrance oil into our giant wax melters.

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From there, the wax is poured off into metal pitchers, allowed to cool, and then poured in into pre-wicked jars in batches of 8-9 (or 12-16 for the mini size). We use the same method I used when I started making candles, just with fancier equipment and on a much larger scale.

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candles cooling

What inspired the packaging for PF candles?
My design skills are pretty limited, having never taken a class in graphic design, but I wanted to make something that felt authentic to me. I loved interchangeable stamps and used them in packaging across the board (when our company used to make more than just candles), so one day, after feeling frustrated with designing on the computer, I went back to basics and just started hand stamping our labels. I wanted the candles to be simple enough that they can exist in your space every day without being too fussy, toeing the line between rustic and clean design.

What is the one scent that we will always find burning in your home?
It depends on the room! For our living room, I like Neroli & Eucalyptus and Summer Breeze. Sweet Grapefruit is always either uncapped or burning in the bathroom. When I’m at work, I like to burn Campfire on my desk.

Have you ever mixed a scent that made you say ‘what was I thinking’?
Absolutely! Luckily with our brainstorming session, it usually doesn’t get past the initial phase. There have been a few combinations that I’ve smelled and said “NOPE!”. My biggest no-no when it comes to a scent is if it gives me or any of our crew here a headache then it gets eliminated from the list. We work hard to make sure our candles can be enjoyed by even those with fragrance sensitivities.

Besides candle-making, what other hobbies/interests do you have?
Camping, bike riding, tending to my ever growing plant collection. And as I said before, traveling and experiencing new places. We try to take a weekend trip at least once a month. We live and work in the heart of downtown LA, so escaping from city life is awesome.

Describe your personal style.
Mostly utilitarian with a little bit of California hippie thrown in. My job is always hands on. You can find me unloading a pallet or unpacking wax or mixing fragrances, so I tend to wear things I don’t mind getting messy. In the summer I wear simple cotton dresses and Vans sneakers. In the winter, I’m all about jeans (including AEO jeggings!) and a simple tee shirt. I usually always wear little stacking rings and copper or bronze skinny cuff bracelets. But my favorite thing to wear, hands down, is a poncho. I can’t wear them at work,just not practical enough, but on a camping trip I usually don’t change out of one. I have this awesome one my dad gave to me when I was a kid; it’s from Argentina. It’s one of those things I didn’t appreciate until I was older.

Tell us something surprising about you that no one would guess!
I may be a candle maker, but I actually studied to become an actor. I did 4 years of rigorous training at NYU’s Tisch School, and right before graduating, I realized it wasn’t the right choice as a career for me. I got involved in the DIY community, and haven’t looked back since. In school, they constantly told us that you have to make your own work – sometimes there wouldn’t be somebody who would want to give it to you or take a chance on you. It was a really important lesson to learn – and one I clearly applied when starting PF.

Anything else you would like to share?
We’re so happy to be able to partner with AEO for their Wear America initiative! It’s awesome to us that the candles that are handmade in our studio by our crew of six can be enjoyed by a wider audience, and that handmade on a larger scale is possible!

What is your favorite scent from PF Candle Co?  Tell us in the comments below!

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AEO Associate Interview: Kai G.

At AEO, we have some pretty talented and amazing associates working behind the scenes to deliver the best  product to date. Senior Fabric Development Manager, Kai Gomes-Brown is no exception to this rule. Get to learn all about Kai and her daily responsibilities at AEO.

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Meet Kai, Senior Fabric Development Manager for AEO and aerie Knits.

Name:  Kai Gomes-Brown

Occupation:  Senior Fabric Development Manager – for AEO and aerie Knits

AEO:  Where are you from?
Kai: 
I’m originally from Fairfield, CT but I consider Queens my home!  I’ve lived in NYC for 20 years!

AEO:  Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do….
Kai:
  Growing up I always loved fashion!   My love for fashion began in the late 80’s when I started watching Style with Elsa Klensch, (a television show about fashion and design from around the world that aired from 1980 to 2001) with my parents on Saturday mornings.  I would watch the show to see designer runway shows presented during New York, London, Milan and Paris fashion weeks.  I learned a lot about high fashion and the designers that created the collections.  In high school my favorite elective course was Home Economics where I learned to sew and then I attended F.I.T. (Fashion Institute of Technology) where I studied Merchandising.  I’ve worked in fashion since graduation for some of the most recognizable names in the industry. As a Fabric Developer it’s very important to stay in tune with the latest and upcoming trends in fabrics and silhouette so I am able to work with designers and fabric suppliers to interpret those trends into fabrics that are in line with the American Eagle Outfitter’s and aerie aesthetics and price structure.  Unfortunately, Style with Elsa Klensch is no longer on television but there are a number of resources like blogs and magazines that I use and are available to everyone to research the latest and upcoming fashion trends!

AEO:  What kind of projects do you find yourself working on from day to day?
Kai:  As I mentioned one of the most significant aspects of being a Fabric Developer is to research in order to stay in tune with the latest and upcoming trends. I work on weekly trend recap reports and competitive analysis reports to share with our designers and fabric suppliers.  Another important function of my day to day responsibilities is to maintain the fabric library that houses numerous types of knit fabrics including: jerseys, ribs, laces, waffles, jacquards and many more.  When a designer is in need of a fabric they can search the library to find a fabric that suits their needs.

AEO:  What do you love most about working with clothing?
Kai:  I love that what you wear is an expression of who you are. It’s really important to me that I develop fabrics that are great quality and on-trend so our customer feels confident when they wear our clothes.

AEO:  We’ve been hearing a lot about plush fabric. Tell us more!
Kai: I’m really excited about Plush!  This fabric is the softest fabric ever!  It’s super cozy and luxe but completely versatile to wear for both day and night!

AEO:  What differentiates plush fabric from other fabrics used in graphic t-shirts and tanks?
Kai:  The biggest difference is that Plush is a rib that is specially treated to get the cozy, plush surface whereas most (but not all) of the fabrics used for graphics, tanks and tees are jerseys with smooth surfaces.

AEO:  What are a few different ways that you can wear this plush fabric?
Kai:  Plush can pretty much be styled with anything!  A pair of AE distressed Hi-Rise Jeggings with AEO Buckle Strap Booties, a Sky High Suspender Skirt with AEO High Top sneakers or a pair of aerie printed Leggings with Riding Boots.  The styling combinations are endless!

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Introducing, Plush Fabric.

Shop the look:
Vintage Plush Heart Graphic T-Shirt
Ruffle Hem Skort
Shimmery Slip On Sneaker

AEO:  What are your top three items for this upcoming season?
Kai:  I can’t name just three!  My top four “most favorite, I can’t wait for fall” items are:  the AEO Sky-Hi Jegging and Vegan Leather Moto Jacket, aerie’s Skinny Jogger and of course, the Plush Long Sleeve T-Shirt!

AEO:  What’s your personal style like?
Kai:  I would describe my personal style as being relaxed, chic and edgy.  I get a lot of inspiration from runway shows and high end designers. I try to interpret that aesthetic into my look but within my budget through-my hair styles, clothing and accessories.  Some of my favorite places to shop are AEO, asos, Saks Fifth Avenue, H&M, Barney’s and Alchemist in Miami.

AEO:  Where do you draw your daily inspiration from?
Kai:  Blogs, magazines, fashion trend services and people watching!  Some of my daily blog reads include:   Stylesnooperdan, MajaWyh, TheyAllHateUs, WhoWhatWear and YahooStyle.  My favorite magazines are V, Elle, Harper’s Bazaar, Jalouse and Elle Decor.

AEO:  What is your favorite city that you’ve either traveled to or what to travel to?
Kai
:  My most favorite city that I’ve traveled to so far is Barcelona and I hope to visit Paris in the very near future.

Have you worn our new plush fabric yet? If so, tell us your thoughts in the comments below.

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#AEOSTYLE Bloggers and Editors Love.

From Cosmopolitan to Refinery 29, we’ve seen #AEOSTYLE featured in some of our favorite magazines and websites. Check out where we’ve been spotted in this week’s Bloggers Editors Love.

Gone Girl’s Emily Ratajkowski was spotted wearing our Skinny Jeans. Also spotted in Cosmopolitan Magazine was our Knit Colorblock Crew Sweater in Fun, Fearless Finds under $50. Us Weekly showcased our Vegan Leather Moto Jacket spotted on Supermodel Lily Aldridge.

20141007_PR_LR Shop the look:
Skinny Jean
Vegan Leather Moto Jacket
Colorblock Crew Sweater

Refinery 29 featured our Quilted Moto Booties, a must- have for Fall.

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Shop the look:
Quilted Moto Booties

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#AEOSTYLE Roundup: Fall Edition

Fall is finally here! With the leaves changing and the temperature dropping, we’re getting super inspired by your autumn #AEOSTYLE. Check out our favorite fall looks submitted by you on Instagram and Twitter below in this week’s roundup.

Shop the look:
Tom Girl Jean
Heathered Raglan Crew Sweater (shop similar)

 

Shop the look:
Jegging Sweater

Shop the look:
Iconic V-Neck Sweater
Skinny Jean
Striped Button Down Shirt
Wingtip Shoe (shop similar)

Shop the look:
Slip On Sneaker (shop similar)
Jegging
Chambray Shirt

Shop the look:
Vegan Leather Moto Jacket
Jegging


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10 questions with Jon Contino: The graphic designer behind our new Live Your Life Fragrances

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Describe yourself to us in five words?
Passionate. Loyal. Determined. Respectful. Intense.

Where are you from and what led you to where you are today?
I grew up in Long Island just a few miles from New York City in a creative, supportive family. I spent my teens and early twenties playing drums in various hardcore and metal bands, and that’s actually where I got my start doing professional design work. I was constantly working on band merchandise, flyers, record layouts and stuff like that. It wasn’t long before I started working with local businesses as well. In 2005 I opened a design studio called Onetwentysix and eventually that led to starting my first menswear brand, CXXVI, with my longtime friend Matt Gorton. Once CXXVI was rolling, I went back to freelancing and eventually transformed that business into what Jon Contino Studio is today.

You designed our packaging for our new Men’s and Women’s Live Your Life fragrances. What inspired your designs?
The inspiration came from the American culture that most people don’t think about. Stuff that we might take for granted. I felt that American Eagle Outfitters needed some nods to its heritage, but in a unique way. I wanted to focus on the time we spend as kids getting into trouble: running around the neighborhood with friends, getting lost in the woods, making fires on the beach. Whatever we used to occupy our time with in between the world of carelessness and responsibility. I wanted to capture the raw energy of growing up in a culture that’s relatively new in the history of the world. It’s unique to America, and it represents a lot of what American Eagle Outfitters is about.

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Can you share some sketches with us?

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Where is your studio and what are three things we will always find in your workspace?
My studio was in Brooklyn for years until very recently. My wife and I moved about an hour north of Manhattan to the Hudson Valley, where I now run my studio full time. It’s great because in between projects, phone calls, emails and all that stuff, I can take some time and go outside with my daughter and play with her without having to worry about busy streets or whatever else comes with living in a busy city. Actually, my daughter is a good example of something you’ll always find in my studio. Anyone that’s ever gotten on a phone call with me can tell you they hear her in the background most of the time. In terms of working material, you’ll always find pencils, pens and paper. I always design everything by hand, on paper. It’s how I feel most comfortable working. If you want to get into atmospheric stuff, there’s always some kind of Apple technology around me, antique signs and books and lots of family heirlooms.

What is your favorite project you have worked on to date?
That’s such a tough question. Working with different industries means that I have a favorite in each field and can’t truly compare one as better than the other. If I had to call out a project that turned my life upside down though, I think I could pick one. Growing up in the world of New York Hardcore, my favorite band was always a band from Brooklyn called Indecision. To this day, those albums are still my favorite of all time. A couple years ago they were doing a reunion show and asked me to design a shirt for them. It was amazing to have my favorite band reach out to me and tell me they were fans of my work. Still sits with me as one of the coolest moments of my career.

If you could have dinner with anyone dead or alive, who would it be and what would you cook for them?
Well, I’m not much of a cook… anyone in my family could tell you that. If I had to pick someone though, I think it might be Benjamin Franklin for a lot of reasons. Instead of cooking, though, I’d take him to one of my favorite bagel shops in the Bronx and tell him to get a toasted egg bagel with vegetable cream cheese with a slice of tomato and an Arizona iced tea. It’s a tradition my wife and I have been doing for years and it’s probably the meal I look most forward to eating.

Number one on your bucket list?
The fact that I can design for a living, and do cool stuff on top of that, is pretty much my one and only selfish goal for my life. I’m a family guy at heart, so everything else would be things like having more kids, seeing them grow up… stuff like that.

It’s Friday night in NYC, where can we find you?
Having a 19-month-old daughter usually means I’m in bed by 10pm on Friday nights, but if I actually had the chance to be out and not be exhausted, then I’d probably want to spend it sitting on a stoop somewhere with friends laughing and joking about random nonsense. Life gets so busy, it’s nice just to goof around once in a while.

Go to ae.com and style a head to toe outfit for yourself.

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Shop #AEOStyle Jon’s style: Quilted Bomber Jacket, Plaid Button Down Shirt, Slim Straight Khaki, Speckled Sock, Clarks Originals Desert Boot

Check out the super cool designs of the men’s and women’s fragrance bottles for these amazing new scents on ae.com and tell us what you think in the comments below.

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Do a distressed denim DIY

Denim is a garment that’s all about individuality. Every day that we wear them, they change: telling the story about what we do in them and who we are. It’s why people are so fiercely committed to their favorite pair, wearing them until they practically disintegrate on their bodies.  For people who want a truly unique look but don’t want to wait years and years, denim distressing is something you can do at home with just a few simple tools and tricks.

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Know Your Starting Material:
The type of denim you start with will ultimately affect how it wears over time. Denim can be anywhere from 6 ounces (per square yard) in weight up to 20+ ounces. The heavier the denim, the more resilient it will be to wear and tear. It’s important to know where your denim falls in the spectrum, since the weight and amount of distressing you do will greatly affect how long your pair of jeans will last.

Tools of the Trade:
Because how denim wears is such a part of our love affair with blue jeans, brands purposely fade and age their denim to give it a vintage, worn look. For your distressing project, all you need are some items found around the house.

Sandpaper (preferably 220 grit or higher): For light distressing and breaking down the denim fabric.
Single-edge razor blade: For ‘scraping’ away surface threads and cutting seams.
Scissors: For full-on hole making.
Block of wood or deck of cards: As a backing to ensure an even surface and that you only distress one layer at a time.
Bleach: Only for the bold. Make sure to place cardboard under the affected surface to avoid bleeding.

Know Your Natural Wear:
When distressing denim, it’s important to work horizontally across the fabric, since that will break down the ‘warp’ threads and leave the ‘weft’ (vertical threads) intact. Distress the appropriate areas for a look that’s authentic for you.

The Knees: Work horizontally with light sandpaper to preserve the weft fibers if you don’t want a full-on hole. Or go at it with scissors for a blown-out rock ‘n roll look.
Back Pockets: To imitate ‘wallet wear’, take a deck of cards or block of wood and place it in the pocket before sanding.
Upper Thighs and Backs of Knees: This is where ‘whiskering’ occurs because of how the denim folds and creases. To re-create this look, you’ll have to lightly sand the jeans while wearing them to ensure the right look.
Side Seams: This is an area where ‘less is more’, because they’re a key structural component of jeans. Lightly sandpaper side seam from the knee up for an authentic look, but be careful not to go too far or your jeans will fall apart on you.

Washing:
Though many people may not think about it, how you wash your denim can affect how it looks in a big way. Ultimately, a rule of thumb for increasing the life of your jeans is to wash them once a month or less.
To lock in the color of your denim, add one cup of white vinegar and a quarter cup of salt to the wash and follow the wash label instructions.

Drying Your Denim:
Since it’s made from cotton, how you dry your denim can greatly affect how it will fit you over multiple washes.

Outdoor Drying: This is a general no-no, since exposure to the sun will weaken the denim fibers and also ‘bleach’ your jeans over time.
Air-Drying: When air-drying, lay the jeans flat. Since denim gets quite heavy when wet, hanging the jeans will result in stretching, ruining the fit.
On-Body Drying: Purist swear by wearing your denim wet and letting it dry on your body, claiming that it’s the only way to get truly form-fitting jeans.
Machine Drying: While this is okay for pre-shrunk denim, higher-end raw denim should never see the inside of a dryer, since it’s prone to shrinking up to 10%.

Avoiding the Wash:
If you’re going to go hardcore and avoid washing your jeans for months on end, it’s important to give them a break every now and then. Though the concept of a ‘freezer’ wash – putting your jeans in the freezer to kill odor-causing bacteria – is popular, scientists have proven that it doesn’t work. The best option? For every few days you wear them, let them hang in a well-ventilated closet for a day to allow odor-causing elements to disperse.

No Matter What, It’s Going to Take Time:
With all denim distressing, the old adage ‘less is more’ is worth noting. Even though you may want blown-out holes or intense shredding on your jeans, those things will occur through natural wear; all you want to do is get the process started. Go too far with your distressing and the denim won’t last. The best elements that go into making a pair of jeans uniquely ‘you’ come with time and patience.

Source URLs:

http://dfw.cbslocal.com/top-lists/ask-a-dfw-expert-how-to-distress-your-jeans/

http://jeans.about.com/od/Jeans101/tp/The-Ultimate-Guide-To-How-To-Wash-Your-Jeans.htm

http://www.cnn.com/2014/05/22/opinion/robbins-you-should-wash-your-jeans/

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