How Otherland Is Making Staying at Home an Experience
When we think back on this year, many terms will come to mind: unprecedented, tragic, crisis, pivot, social distancing, new normal. But there is one term, a happier term, that Otherland cofounder and CEO Abigail Cook Stone (pictured below) has coined and hopes will catch on: “interiential”—an amalgamation of “interior” and “experiential,” representing a new vision of home brought on by the pandemic.
“Now that we’re spending more time at home [than] ever before, I came up with this idea, a phrase to represent this new vision of home now that our homes have become our everything, so we call it interiential,” Cook Stone said during a recent session of The Next Normal. “Our homes have become our everything now—our gym, our bar, our sanctuary—and it’s really important to have home be a space that empowers us and doesn’t make us feel confined, so it’s all about creating these meaningful experiences at home.”
This term really embodies a mantra passed down to her by her mother: “the extra verve of the added touch.”
“The extra verve of the added touch is really about this little bit of extra effort you might put into something that takes it from good to great and elevates the everyday,” she said. “So, the example that I would often use when explaining this would be when you get clementines, and they come in the mesh bag or that crate, you put the clementines in a bowl. And it’s not too fussy, it’s not Martha Stewart, but it just creates this little moment of beauty, and verve, as I call it, is really all about this practice every day of creating these little moments of joy for yourself. And it’s part of the art of living well, and that’s just something that’s been really important to me, and so it’s been my mission to share that with the world through Otherland.”
A former art buyer for Ralph Lauren, Cook Stone started her candle company Otherland two years ago.
“I’ve been mildly obsessed with candles for my whole life,” Cook Stone told Worth over the phone. “I realized that there was a gap in the market. So, on one hand, I really love these fresh, sophisticated, kind of nuanced scents from the really expensive brands, but those candles are so expensive that, if you can even afford to buy one, you’re like afraid to burn it. And, you know, on the other end of the spectrum were the more affordable brands, but a lot of them really had these super sweet, artificial, cloying scents that just have lackluster design, and the ultra-sweet fragrances just weren’t my style. And so, I felt like there was this white space here where we could create a brand that was much more accessibly priced, really kind of in the middle, so our price point is $36 for one, and it’s $89 for three…so it would be $89, it comes out to, I think, around $28 a candle and that includes shipping and a matchbox. And we could work with those same master perfumers that do all the expensive brands, but offer it at a much more accessible price and then bring in my art background.”
Otherland has not only succeeded in making accessibly priced candles that look and smell high-end, but it is evident from the design and branding around their products that they have begun creating a whole world for their brand to exist in, something the company’s name alludes to.
“The idea is very much about, and this ties in I think with interiential, is all of the experiences that burning a candle and incorporating scent in your home can create, and whether that’s cozy land or dinner party land, or what have you, it’s really all about creating that place, that experience at home and all of the different things that we can do with it,” she said.
Candle sales in the U.S. alone pull in more than $3 billion annually, according to the National Candle Association. And in a year such as this, Cook Stone remarks that joy-driven purchasing has emerged as a way to bring a little happiness into the everyday.
“I think even more now than ever, people are critical of the products and services they’re spending money on right now, and [they’re] looking for brands that represent those values and add meaning every day, and we’re seeing a lot of joy-driven purchasing and people looking to add, whether it’s from the unboxing experience or the actual scents, but just looking to elevate their everyday, to bring happiness. It’s all about, what do your products do that makes something feel special?”
Cook Stone asserts that these purchases and the changes surrounding home living are built for the long haul and could ultimately result in helping people lead more fulfilling lives.
“Right now, people are craving socialization, and I think we’re going to see that really happening in the home, and people hosting parties and having people over, etc.,” she said. “But if you look even before COVID, trends like these outdoor living rooms and man caves and so forth, people creating gyms and wellness rooms in the home—that was happening before COVID. So, I think we’ll continue to see that, and as people create their own sanctuaries at home…it is very fulfilling, and it’s part of living well and seeing how people can create that for themselves.”