If you were able to make it to the debut Franklin Flea Market this winter season, you may have caught yourself wafting the delicious scents of Olliver candles. With smells like Gin & Tonic and Grenadine Cider, these pots of soy wax are not your mother's Yankee candle.
Originally based out of Columbus, Ohio, Scotty and Josh Niemet moved to Philadelphia in pursuit of their next life chapter. "The thing about Columbus is that it's really easy to survive there without really trying. The cost of living is a little less and it's super laid back, and we just wanted a challenge," says Josh.
The pair first met in 2010 on an online dating site and shared similar interests, like hardcore music, tattoo culture, and a vegan lifestyle. Josh lived in upstate New York, so shortly after they spent months traveling here and there to see each other, they moved in together. During their time together, they were booking various live music events at a local warehouse space. In 2012 they tied the knot at a wedding ceremony at the same location, but took the liberty of decorating and planning on their own. "When we decided we wanted to get married, we wanted a scent that would fill the entire space." They also wanted to give their guests a neat takeaway gift that would always remind them of the big day. They created their own custom scent, poured it, and everyone left with a candle. After that, they were getting calls from friends and family asking for more.
Josh studied graphic design, but Scotty came up with the brand's logo. They both have various part-time jobs around the city, but their ultimate goal is make Olliver their full-time gig. In fact, the name "Olliver" is a literal representation for their future goals. It's the name they hope to one day give their first son. "We want to build this life for ourselves and be able to facilitate raising a family."
When we walked into Scotty and Josh's South Philadelphia home, the place smelled incredible. On the stove they were cooking up a batch for their spring season line of candles that incorporates orange, cocoa, and black pepper. "One of the biggest issues we run into is that we like woodsy, deep smoky scents – but every candle can't be that way, so it's a lot of trial and error." Many surfaces in their house are currently covered with empty glasses waiting to be poured. They are busy readying their spring collection for launch this weekend, which they promise will stay true to their musky, masculine-smelling roots, while still incorporating subtle smells of spring: citrus, sweetgrass, chardonnay, lavender, and chamomile just to name a few. All of their products operate along the guidelines of being vegan and cruelty free, so you can feel better about what you're burning.
For now, their main export is their signature soy candles, but for this next release they want to dive more into a lifestyle brand that includes vegan body care items (bodywash, beard oil) and house care products. Scotty and Josh are also all about collaborating, too. They are working with local antique/vintage store Jinxed-Philly to create a custom scent that will be poured into a number of their unsold glassware. They are also teaming up with local doggy lover Jackie Starker, who runs the brand Amelie's Bark Shop, for a line of smell-good, enviro-friendly pet products like room sprays and reed diffusers.
Olliver Lifestyle products will be sold at this weekend's Franklin Flea, located on the ground floor of the old Strawbridge's at 8th and Market Streets, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.