It was late June of 2013 that founder Kristina Kochan decided she needed to do something about the chemical-ridden lip balm she was still using daily. She tried many of the all natural options at her local supermarket, but couldn't find one that fit all of her preferences: smooth application, all natural ingredients, and stylish packaging. Feeling a little like Goldie Locks (too weird of a flavor, too waxy, not easy to apply, etc.), Kristina began experimenting with her own recipe. In a whirlwind of chemistry and attention to detail (that's almost redundant), she came up with what was, in her mind, the perfect recipe.
She tested them on her friends and family. The positive feedback was too exciting to ignore. Within weeks, she added more flavors to her line-up and decided to launch an Etsy shop under the brand name, "Homegrown."
In September 2013, Kristina realized that her brand was going in a direction she wasn't passionate about. A few random-word-generators, dictionary and thesaurus reads, and conversations to herself, she settled on the made-up word, "wilderess." Wilderess is, notably, wilderness without the "n." More importantly, it's a brand that represents those that love nature as it is meant to be loved- in a natural state. Her mother always told her, "Try to eat food as close to its natural state as possible." This was advice that translated into other parts of her life.
Soon after re-branding in September 2013, Kristina was working on lip balms and made an unfortunate bad batch. Hating to waste all the ingredients, she brainstormed what she might do to recycle what was ruined. She successfully made her first candle. It was soon after that that she decided to add candles to her line up. She began researching ingredients used to make candles and sought to create clean-burning, simple recipe, "healthy" candles. She read many scientific articles about the dangers of burning zinc-core wicks and paraffin wax. She outlines her research in the "About Candles" section of the website. Her first candle scent was "Oak & Amber." The response was wonderful and she has since expanded her scent offering.
In March of 2022, Kristina and her husband, Preston, welcomed their first child Mia. Mia's birth dawns a new time in the business of Wilderess as Kristina balances motherhood and business. We appreciate our customers compassion for this life change and patience as a new rhythm is found.
Kristina graduated from California State University, Long Beach in 2013 with a B.A. in Fashion Merchandising and a minor degree in Italian. She is a lover of travel, cooking, fashion, and film and takes inspiration from each.