Fairhope Ala. 1990-2008 - I was raised on Liberty St. about 4 blocks from Mobile Bay. My mother raised me and my brother, Josh, to value integrity, education, and athletics. Our dad; to value the arts, family, and hard work. In a place like Fairhope, it was easy to value each of these things. We had first hand experience in creating art, catching fish, and we developed enough knowledge to know to sit back on a curve ball and push it to the opposite side of the field.
Auburn Ala. 2008-2014 - College was college and it was rare that Josh were not together. We played in bands and on teams, always together. When we went to college, we lived together and worked at the same restaurant. I graduated from Auburn University in 2013. Well, technically I failed out after failing statistics for the second semester in a row, but since it was my graduating semester, I walked. My mom has photos. Entering the next season of life begged of itself new questions. Questions like;
Do I care about anything enough to pursue for a lifetime?
Does it have to be a lifetime?
Do I want to finish my degree?
Is it time to grow up and punch the clock?
Is there a way to make a good living and not lose my soul or my excitement?
I spent the next 3 months working at JH Ranch, an adventure camp in California, and in August returned to Auburn and made few changes but had developed vision for a candle company. I was managing a restaurant at the time but after several months, was fired. Presented with a change in plans I began to ask myself the same questions but this time, there lingering, was an idea of a candle company. An idea I began running with.
Josh was finishing his degree in graphic design when we began talking seriously about the idea to pour candles inspired by our fondest memories. Since we had a lifetime of shared memories we began to brainstorm the ones that impacted us the most. We had, sitting in a journal on the coffee table, the humble beginnings of Great Bear Wax Co. in the form of a list of fragrances we hoped to create. We became obsessed with the idea that we could create fragrances that could define memories both old and new for others. We spent the next several months prepping to launch Great Bear Wax Co. and on December 1st of 2013, we launched. The first order to come through the system was from Caroline Taylor, and after her, many many others. We never looked back.
Birmingham Ala. 2014 to present - I spent another summer in California, where I led wilderness backpacking trips, spent too much time at the coffee bar, and poured candles on my off days. August rolled around and our summer jobs were all coming to an end but instead of making my way back to Auburn, I left with a few pals on a road trip through the pacific northwest for a few weeks. This trip brought the hike that was the birth of our Forest candle, my decision to finish college, and was the span of road where I decided it would be best to move to Birmingham when I left California. For the first time in 24 years me and my brother would not live together, or even in the same city. I moved on October 1, 2014, enrolled in an online statistics class, found a place to make candles and almost 3 years later this place is feeling more and more like home. Don't get me wrong, I yearn to be back on the water, I yearn to be in the same city as my brother, but I know I am where I need to be.
Currently, I am sitting in our shop. Im looking at last years numbers and I could not be more proud. We have come a long way in such a short amount of time and again I could not be more proud. Im grateful for this team, for the support, for the folks who love these fragrances, and am ultimately grateful for the opportunity to take a risk. None of this was guaranteed, hell, three years under our belt doesn't guarantee us another three. We are getting ready to launch into what I will call v2 of Great Bear Wax Co. This summer we will launch a story telling element and I already feel the same fear and vulnerability that I felt when before we launched three years ago. I have learned so much in the midst of this adventure but if I had to communicate it all in one point it would be this: I chose to pursue something and with that came the decision to jump or not to jump. You get to a point where you are risking more by staying put then you are by taking the plunge and its at that point you find out what you're made of.
Heres to the journey. You have made this one a sweet one and I hope we are adding to yours - Jake
Founder - Jake Carnley
Wholesale Manager - Josh Cox
Shop Pup - Piper Pup
- appointment only -
17 55th Place South - Birmingham, Alabama 35212