Living Well in Litchfield County, Connecticut

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Awakening the Senses

Awakening the Senses

By Clementina Verge 

Backroads: noun, “a little-used secondary road, especially one through a rural or sparsely populated area.” “Back Roads”: proper noun, a deep woodsy-fragranced candle inspired by where the Housatonic River and Appalachian Trail intersect in Cornwall Bridge, and where Plaid Rooster Co. recently celebrated the opening of its gift shop and manufacturing facility.

“There is something truly therapeutic about watching a warm flame with natural elements like rocks and wood,” owner Andrea Appelbaum notes about the candles poured into hand-carved dough bowls. 

Rustic touches are a trademark of her all-vegan friendly, soy-based candles, which are “a cleaner, natural, healthier burn compared to paraffin-based ones that burn only half as long.”

Whether the senses crave wintery spruce and pine, rejuvenating cactus flower and jade, or a customized candle like lavender white tea, 22 available fragrances are essential oil-based and free of toxins, artificial dyes, or additives. Unscented is also an option.

The candles, some decorated with locally-grown pressed flowers while others are poured into glass jars featuring a signature plaid bow, make great gifts and celebratory tokens for any occasion. The Baby Reveal Candle, which turns pink or blue within 30 minutes as baby powder scent fills the room, is a favorite.

Quality and uniqueness have kept customers coming to Appelbaum’s other shop, Queen Street Gifts in Newtown, for the past five years, leading to the establishment of Plaid Rooster in 2020.

“I wanted to carry a local candle that wasn’t already sold in neighboring stores,” she explains. “Since there wasn’t any option, I decided to make them myself.”

Naming the line was easy: “Since the Newtown mascot is a rooster, it made sense to name the Newtown-born brand after the rooster. I also love its symbolism and role in awakening people, and I wanted the brand to have a country farmhouse look.”

Once launched, the brand “grew enormously successful very quickly” and meeting demand required an expansion. 

Appelbaum, who grew up in Stamford, has longstanding ties to Litchfield County, where the family kept a boat on Bantam Lake, enjoying hiking and the area’s wineries. Eventually, they purchased waterfront property on Woodridge Lake in Goshen. When 22 Kent Road S became available, it was the perfect location.

Today, “a team of 13 fabulous, hard-working women” hand-pour and fulfill online orders, shipping nationwide to private homes and retailers. 

“We don’t hold inventory that loses its aroma over time sitting on shelves,” Appelbaum assures. “While other companies cheap out on how much fragrance they use, sometimes cheating and only scenting the top layer, we infuse throughout the candle.”

Instead of discarding the wood vessels, customers can return for refills.

Acknowledging “tremendous love and customer support,” Appelbaum anticipates continued growth while also giving back. Following a successful fundraiser with the Ukraine charity candle, she will work with local charities to help CT children in need always have a cake with candles to blow out and make a wish on their birthdays. “Sip and pour” candle-making parties will cater for adults interested in fun community get-togethers. —

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