Manufacturing / Startups

This duo left Google to make … candles?

Even candles are entering the Warby Parker Age. Meet Keap.

Harry Doull (left) and Stephen Tracy (right) are pretty pumped about candles. (Photo by Tyler Woods)

So how do you get two Google guys to walk away from plush jobs to start a candle-making business?
For one, they have to love candles. ✔
“People who were at Google and were like, ‘You’re at the No. 1 ranked company and free food and like what are you doing leaving for candles?’ and I’m like, ‘Well, it would be a whole conversation to explain the philosophy to you,'” explained Stephen Tracy, cofounder of candle startup Keap, over brunch in Williamsburg this weekend.

Keap, in one diagram.

Keap, in one diagram. (Courtesy image)

Tracy and his cofounder, Harry Doull, are doing what several other recently successful companies have been doing: cutting out a retail middleman, manufacturing their product themselves and selling their single product online with a clean, simple website.
Tracy and Doull say they can make a candle that would retail for $70 or $80 at a price point of $28.

“One of the things that led us to where we are now is that we would look at brands that were succeeding online,” Tracy explained. “We were looking at Everlane and Warby Parker and Casper as brands that were really doing amazingly. We were looking for other successful Kickstarter profiles and saw your article on Misen. What I think is really cool about Misen is that even seeing that happen it’s hard to believe there was really that much demand for a really simple beautiful knife.”

The duo has sourced and tested all the ingredients for the candles themselves. They’re using coconut wax from California, fragrance from a perfumery in the Bronx and glasses that can be easily washed out and reused as whiskey tumblers instead of being thrown away. They were looking for a space where they could make candles at scale and said they were lucky to have found Industry City.

We spent a long time looking for a space where we could work on a laptop but also spill wax,” Doull said. “It’s really hard to find in any modern city.”

And, truthfully, they said, Brooklyn is the only place they’d be able to embark on this journey.

The two met in Europe, at an inauguration session for Google employees and hit it off immediately. Tracy is from London, and Doull is American, but grew up in Paris. After about a year they were transferred to New York, and took an apartment together in Williamsburg, on, you guessed it, Keap Street.

Stephen Tracey and Harry Doull stand beneath the namesake of their company and also their first apartment in the city.

Stephen Tracy and Harry Doull stand beneath the namesake of their company and also their first apartment in the city. (Photo by Tyler Woods)

“Williamsburg is great,” Doull said. “I think the last few years have been super exciting here and having the contrast of European cities, the creative energy here is sort of unmatched. That you can have friends that work in banks but then are also filmmakers. Brooklyn also has a heart to it. It’s sort of the nicer side of New York in a way.”

“There’s no way I’d be doing this if I were in London,” Tracy added. “There’s sort of the belief that you can do something crazy here.”

So the pair is giving it a go on Kickstarter. Over brunch this weekend they were deciding whether to make the Kickstarter goal $25,000 or $30,000.

Kickstarter makes you totally bipolar,” Tracy said. “Some days we’re like, ‘Oh we’re totally gonna get it,’ some days we’re like, ‘Oh my god I’m totally scared.'”

The duo went with $25K, and as of press time Keap has reaped in $21,814 from 255 backers.

Support by Nov. 22

“We’ve been blown away by the response!” Tracy emailed yesterday. “Feeling utterly humbled.”

Series: Brooklyn

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