If you follow Lucy and I on Instagram, then you know how much we have been loving Wilderess candles and lip balms… I am so happy I have gotten to know the lovely owner of this amazing company, Kristina Kochan, through email and social media! Wilderess is located here in Long Beach, CA and all of her products are handmade with all natural ingredients. For example, she makes her candles out of soy wax made in the USA rather than using paraffin wax which is bad for the environment. She also sells lovely vintage jewelry and loves vintage because it reduces the waste in the world (us too!). Trust us, you must go to her online store immediately and buy something, try a Sweet Almond Lip Balm for only $3.00, you will fall in love and go back for more…
OHEMV: What do you love about owning a small business?
Kristina: Everything! Aside from being my own boss, I have my hands in every piece of the business, which is something I really love. Well, maybe the bookkeeping side isn’t so fun, but I’ve learned so much already and I’m learning more everyday. That’s something that really keeps me going. I love the challenge and I love the natural way it brings out my creativity.
OHEMV: Tell us about your products.
Kristina: Wilderess offers a variety of products. I started with lip balms, then added candles and home decor, and have recently expanded to including vintage jewelry. When curating and developing my line, my focus is really on informed consumerism. I have an “about” section on my website devoted to breaking down the ingredients in my lip balms and candles to explain to the customer what the purpose is of each ingredient and what exactly it is or does. I did hours of research by reading scientific articles, medical journals, and encyclopedia pages to put it into plain and simple terms.
OHEMV: Who is your biggest fashion inspiration?
Kristina: I can honestly say that I don’t have any one fashion inspiration. I’m inspired by everything. That may be why sometimes I get overwhelmed and don’t know where to start! I pick and choose a little of everything. I’m equal parts tomboy and feminine. My love for fashion and obsession with red lipstick started, however, with vintage photos of my grandmother. She was crazy gorgeous and I wanted to be just like her. I keep a photo of her in my workspace. She’s in a beautiful 1940’s dress and in the arms of my grandfather. It’s probably the most romantic photo I’ve ever seen. My late Ukrainian grandmother that I, unfortunately, never met also inspires me. My dad recently gave me a photo of her and it was like looking in a mirror. I keep that one nearby, too, to keep me grounded and remember where I come from.
OHEMV: When and how did you discover your love for vintage?
Kristina: I really discovered my love of vintage through film. I was about 16 years old when I saw a film with ruby red lipstick, finger waves, romantic blouses and high waisted pencil skirts that just called to me. While I graduated with a degree in Fashion Merchandising, I actually did my first two years of school as a film major. I’ve always been a cinephile and I get a lot of my inspiration from films.
OHEMV: Long Beach is such an awesome place to live! What do you love most about Long Beach?
Kristina: What’s not to love about this city? Seriously! I love to travel and I’m lucky enough to have traveled to some really beautiful places, but I always come back. I love the culture in Long Beach. We’re so diverse. The diversity in Long Beach creates the most fascinating melting pot of fashion styles. I love it! We also have the best restaurants in the world. No, seriously. So good.
OHEMV: Where is your favorite place to go for inspiration?
Kristina: I’ll often visit the Long Beach Nature Center at Eldorado Park for a quick breath of nature. I’m inspired by the wildflowers, overgrown grounds, and little wild animals. The Long Beach Antique Market also offers a lot of inspiration. Whether it’s the vintage furniture, old books, or colorful fabrics; it just gets the wheels turning!
OHEMV: Any advice for someone thinking about starting their own business?
Kristina: I would say that it’s important to research what you want to do and have a good understanding of it before you invest your time and money. See what other people are doing with similar products. How will you differentiate yourself? Having a clear branding created and at least some sort of plan will do some good. Also, it’s important to understand the risks. Orders won’t come everyday, you’ll still have bills to pay, and you have to deal with every single aspect of the business…including the problems and accounting.
Be sure to follow Kristina on Instagram: @thewilderess and shop her site: Wilderess!
All photos are courtesy of Preston Esposito Wingrove.