The world doesn’t need another candle brand,” people told Abigail Cook Stone, a former art buyer for Ralph Lauren. But Cook Stone disagreed. She was an avid candle consumer, and she’d looked high and low for one that was aesthetically exciting, smelled more like vine-covered pergolas and minty cocktails than motel bathrooms, and was sold at a price that she and her friends could afford. As far as she could tell, no such candle existed.
At the time this revelation came to Cook Stone, she was making her way through Columbia University’s business school while working at the seed-stage fund Founder Collective. After graduating in 2016, she and her now-fiancé, Sayyid Markar, started an online candle brand called Otherland. But that’s when they got a whiff of trouble.