Introducing

DISPATCHES

The new journal series by Farmer's Son Co.

02. DISPATCHES

Posted by Daniel Mitchell on

Hi friend,

I hope September’s treating you well and that you’re finding your groove as we put another summer to sleep and settle in for a new season ahead.

I’m still having trouble believing that we’re already three weeks into the month, but what are you going to do?

This time of year, things start to pickup for us. While folks like to enjoy our candles throughout the year, autumn the coming winter are where we find ourselves the busiest. With come that comes a pile of candles to be poured, planning, projects, coordinating.

Sometimes it kind of feels like we’re putting together a puzzle. Some pieces of the puzzle arrive quickly, others slowly (oh so slowly). Sometimes you didn’t know you needed another puzzle piece or forgot about a piece you had.

And then you start building, doing so without the picture on the puzzle box to guide you. You’ve got an idea of what the end result is going to hopefully look like, some memories from the last time you did a puzzle called “MAKING IT THROUGH THE HOLIDAYS IN ONE PIECE” but you’re kind of just winging in, figuring it out as it comes together.

Sometimes pieces come together easily. Sometimes there’s a bit of jamming, but eventually you get there.

Slowly my team and I have been finding our puzzle pieces and putting them together.

I thought it’d be fun for 02. DISPATCHES to tell you about how this season’s puzzle is coming together.

With each autumn and holiday season, I find myself having to do a bit more coordinating. The planning and puzzle piece hunting starts earlier and earlier in the year. Throw in stuff coming from six countries (Canada, USA, Mexico, China, India and Nepal) and things can get interesting.

Farmer's Son Co. warehouse shelving

We usually stop pouring autumn candles in the middle of October, with the focus shifting to making sure everything’s ready for the holiday season. I think we’re in good shape. Well, kind of. A rush order of fragrance went in yesterday and should be here by Friday. With so many fragrances and different notes used, suddenly you can find yourself walking into the fragrance room and saying, “oh shit. Looks like we’re out of everything we need to do our next round of production. Better get on that.”

I haven’t always gotten it right. Not even close. Growing the past few years from a tiny solopreneur operation to a full-fledged lab & creative studio hasn’t come without its own growing pains, bottlenecks, supply chain issues, pandemic fun and “Dan, you said you were going to order that stuff. Did you?”

pallet of candle glassware

But, in the same breath it’s been fun to grab my imaginary trench coat and magnifying glass, as I look for all the piece that makeup the puzzle that is #candleseason for us.

I’m really excited with where my team and I are at. There’s a pile of new fun on the go and treasures that have just arrived. You know I’m that guy that looks up from his desk anytime a courier truck drives by.

All holiday artwork is on the way. Earlier this year I started working with two new printers who I love. It’s all about the details for me & I wasn’t happy with the quality of the labels that we were using. It’s all about continuous improvement and tweaking around here and the new linen texture paper that we’ve selected just looks and feels like a million bucks. I want everything we make to look as good as it smells.

This holiday season we’ve got seven fragrances in our core winter lineup, including two new ones – Cypress + Mint along with Evergreen. Both launching ahead of November 1st! All seven fragrances will be in our 8oz tumblers, along with 4oz mini jars – another shakeup.

Farmer's Son Co. 4oz candle jars

I decided to phase out the little tins. Sometimes I just get bored. That and they were a pain to label. Half the time my label applicating machine didn’t work with them, so it even last season I found myself sitting in the lab at 3 AM watching Murder She Wrote while hand-applying Forest Frost labels.

That and the jars just look nicer (those tins served their purpose but like, meh). With a bigger surface area on each jar, I was able to design a new label that really lets me tell you the top, middle and base notes of each scent. Something I’ve wanted to do for years.

I’d originally hoped to hunt down some cute reusable tins that I could emboss with fun looking graphics, but it just wasn’t in the cards. We’re a growing studio, but we’re still tiny enough that sometimes folks won’t give you their attention when you approach them about custom fabricating something. There was a lot of sweettalking to get our incense tins, it’s didn’t go so well with this latest idea. Maybe someday.

I think we’ve got most of what we need for fragrance to get us through the holidays in-stock or on the way. If you had to ask me off the top of my head how many notes we’re using, I don’t think I could tell you. Lots. We’ve had some fun exploring and trying new things. Looking at ideas that on surface might not feel really Farmer’s Son Co., but that’s the point. It’s important to shake it up & draw from new inspiration.

What else can I tell you.

I think we’re doing okay after the great wick shortage of 2021. A key supplier of bulk candlewicks in the industry (like talk about a niche business?) closed for awhile and experienced a pile of supply issues that everyone making candles professionally felt. There were a lot of late nights searching online and making calls to everyone to find enough wicks to get us through the season.

Same goes with glassware. At what felt like the eleventh-hour last year I managed to get three pallets of our tumblers in. Sometimes you just need to trust in the process and hope it works out. On that note, I need to make sure I get another pallet of tumblers on the way. We tear through them – especially when doing big pours of classics like Mulled and Forest Frost.

Homestead candle labels in Dan's hand

We’ve also got our new recycled blown glassware from Mexico to play with! It arrived earlier this month and has been flying out the door. I figured I’d launch it first as barware (so many folks kept asking) and then let the collection of fragrances follow.

Let me tell yah. It’s going to be good.

mouth blown Mexican glass tumbler being held by Dan.

When I started thinking about the look and feel of the glass, I knew I wanted to shift gears a bit. Make that a lot. Which is the brief I gave my team. The vibe is dirty / sexy / mood / late nights / whisper tones / long drawn-out conversations / heavy / a half empty wine bottle / incense / the crackling sound of a record player. You know where I’m going.

It’s coming together. I’m hoping for November. I should probably make sure I order the right size boxes this time.

Bags, boxes and ribbon are looking good. Talked to the bro-in-law about getting another couple of workstations built (I never thought we’d run out of counterspace).

Display of Farmer's Son Co. candles being packaged to ship. Ribbon, scissors, a folded kitchen candle towel.

I’m also anxiously awaiting the departure of our 2022 holiday range from our partner in Nepal. I’m going to introduce you to our workshop and the range soon, but, dang, if this range isn’t just the cutest. We weren’t even through last holiday season when I started working on it, knowing we’d set the bar high with those goofy bells. Man I love those bells. We were able to get our paws on a few more for this season (sadly no 4pc hanging set)…but still some good stuff.

And then there’s our new brassware that’s being enjoyed and the new coffee range I just ordered.

Forged brass spoons and coffee scoop

Last but not least, it’s time to figure out the flow and layout of our physical space outside the lab. Our studio couch went into storage and fixturing is starting to roll in. I’m not opening a store. I said I’d never open a store…an experience though…I do love a good experience.

I'll share what I'm thinking soon enough.

With that, I’ve just realized I need to do a rush order for more candle bags. I should probably go figure that out...

More DISPATCHES to come.

Cheers,
Dan

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01. Dispatches

Posted by Daniel Mitchell on

Hey there,

I hope that you enjoyed your Labour Day weekend.

Like many of us, I used this weekend as an excuse to get out of the city and head back out to my family’s farm. It was exactly what I needed – a bit of downtime ahead of what’s shaping up to be a busy fall season filled with holiday production, markets, and pop-up dates. It’s always good to just sneak away and turn your brain off for a few minutes.

I love where I grew-up in Manitoba's Parkland region (north of Roblin if you're curious). It’s some of the prettiest countryside that I know of, so I’ve always got my camera at the ready and will look for any reason to pullover and capture something new. It’s only fair that I pepper my first dispatch to you with some of my favourite photos from the weekend.

Rural backroad on the prairies.

As you’re reading this (and as I’m writing this), we’re both probably asking ourselves “what is Dispatches?”

I’m not totally sure – which I’m okay with. I think I’m still figuring it out. Maybe we’ll figure this out together. This might be my best idea ever, or it might be like the time I bought a tanjine and convinced myself that I was going to make Moroccan chicken weekly. Five years later it’s still in its box on the top shelf of my pantry.

I think I want to use Dispatches to share and connect. Probably even babble a bit. How this looks, we’ll figure out as we go.

This autumn marks six years of building Farmer’s Son Co. and a lot’s has changed in that time – including how we connect and catch-up with each other. In those early days I signed up for every market and pop-up I could. I just wanted to meet folks and share my art. We talked, shared and got to know each other. Anytime an order would arrive on the website I’d get a sore wrist from writing those notes to you.

But it’s through meeting face to face, those notes to and from each other (I’ve saved your cards and emails), plus all we’ve experienced together on Instagram that we’ve gotten to know each other, which is something that I wouldn’t change for the world. We’ve shared stories and life experiences. The good, the not so good and everything in-between.

Prairie hills, with fence line. Road and pasture visible in the distance.

While I might not be able to write half page notes with each order like I used to, I enjoy what we’ve created. It’s a unique little community that I love. I feel a kinship to you.

So that’s what I want Dispatches to be. A continuation of what we’ve created. A way to connect and share that doesn’t rely on Algorithms or necessarily even on the candles that I’ve build my little brand on. We like a good story. We appreciate experiences. We like nice things. We want to talk about places we know and love so well. We want to share those common experiences and memories. Recommendations and things we love.

So that’s what we’re going to do.

Along the way, I want to use Dispatches as a place to explore new ideas with you while reconnecting with some of my favourite things and hobbies. To share parts of myself and my team that I haven’t. A lot of my loves in life took a bit of a backseat when I dove headfirst into the world of entrepreneurship all those years ago. Sometimes you just run out of hours in a day, week or even year.

Suddenly you find yourself saying “remember when you used to bake? Remember when you used to just take photos for fun? Remember when you used to just write for the fun of it? Remember the things that used to just make you, you?”

Obviously, I’m going to share about candles and the lab and the new goods I’m creating, but this is about having some fun. In many ways, this is a way for me to reconnect with all the things I love and want to talk about.

So, while I’m not a great baker I might show you my half-assed (or failed) attempts. I love to garden and it's always fun to talk about what's happening during any given season. Give you a glimpse of the goods I’m designing and my thought process. How I think about product and what inspires me. I love travel – be it near or far and it’s always fun to share those favourite spots and finds. I want to talk about the places I’ve been and how they’ve inspired me.

photo of Dan standing in barn loft.

I’m excited to have you along on this journey. Sometimes I don’t feel like I know where I’m necessarily going. I mean who’d of thought six years ago that I’d be creating neat things in an old warehouse space that's been transformed into a unique spot complete with buffalo check wallpaper and a team of trained fragrance designers?! All this while I sourcing artisan blown glassware, boxing up and shipping candles to folks across Canada and beyond (while also trying to track down the shipping status for 900 strands of pom-poms...(more on those later). It’s all kind of been goofy and doesn’t necessarily make sense sometimes – but that’s kind of the fun part.

I’m not one of those people who can follow a schedule. I struggle with them. I blame the relentlessness of my past corporate life where every 15 minutes of my working day was scheduled. There’s not going to be a formal process to Dispatches. I’m just going to share as I’m feeling inspired. As I can. When I’ve got a soapbox to stand on. When I have things to tell you about. Dispatches are just going to arrive when the time is right.

So with that, I can't wait for what's ahead and am looking forward to sharing everything with you.

I'm going to leave you with a glimpse of what's just arrived in the online shop and for sale at Candle Canteen counter in the front end-end of our lab + creative space.

mouth-blown glassware on a shelf

My beautiful new barware designs have arrived from our friend Jaime in Mexico! His team of artisans creative beautiful mouth-blown glassware exclusively from recycled materials (think old beer and juice bottles collected from resorts and garbage dumps). Jaime and his team know their stuff - their creations are enjoyed in some of Mexico City's leading restaurants and independent boutiques. As well, their work has caught the attention of leading design focused brand Soho House who Jaime has consulted with to create pieces for their exclusive clubs.

I wanted to create a collection of pieces that are classic in design (a Collins glass, a stemless wine glass and a lowball tumbler) in a moody hue suitable for the months ahead. I really look at these pieces and think of them as modern classics that you'll enjoy for years to come.

Dan holding a lowball tumbler

Each piece is skillfully blown by a talented glassblower, so no two are alike. 

After three years of offering candles poured in our blown Mexican glassware with folks slowly collecting pieces a glass at a time, I wanted to create a glass family that was available immediately as barware / drinkware first, with a collection to follow.

Barware being unpacked in the Farmer's Son Co. creative space.

We're still conceptualizing the fragrance collection - but we're going dark and moody. A little bit sexier and dirtier if you will. A new direction, but one that I'm excited to tell you about when the time's right.

But until then, I hope the days ahead are good to you!

Cheers,
Dan

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