when we practice slowness, often what comes to mind are candle-filled evenings and long bath soaks, taking time to reconnect with yourself, and for Jess Aiello, creating a comfortable nesting space. when I sat down with her, the chandler and founder of Fiddle Fish, she explained that, “scent, although not something you can see and touch, is an essential part to any home and usually the first thing we acknowledge when we enter a space.”
when i met Jess, our personalities immediately meshed, sparking a conversation that lasted hours. we shared each other’s habits, livelihoods, and woes, and have since supported each other’s worlds of sustainable goods. when i decided to embark on the Tête-à-Tête series, which features a collaboration with a maker and highlights their story, Jess was the first to my mind.
together we created a unique product set for our communities, with proceeds being donated to our monthly cause. it features a california-scented candle with hints of lavender and eucalyptus in a gorgeous Betsey Carter clay vessel from Fiddle Fish, and an Une Forme zero-waste scarf, made from our clay and sage dyed remnant linen -- you'll find it below. please join us as Jess shares her story, her loves, and our special collaboration.
what inspired this journey?
i was working full time as nanny in manhattan, feeding two babies three meals a day out of these cute little jars, when i thought, "i can't throw these away!" so, back at my junior one bedroom apartment, I squirreled them away until the collection took over every nook, cranny, drawer and shelf. before ending up on an episode of hoarders, i quickly taught myself how to make candles, and used the jars as my test vessels which became a staple in my collections.
after moving cross country to LA, i discovered that farmer's markets took place all year, so i applied for as many as i could and got the community involved. i offered discounts to people who would donate old jars, and once this caught on, everyone was giving me their old glass containers. i loved that i could create meaningful objects from people's trash. eventually my passion grew into body essentials like goat's milk soap and bath soaks as well. i hope to continue expanding and creating new products.
tell us about your process and how it differs from others?
i use soy wax because it's a cleaner alternative to paraffin wax which is synthetic. i also use a 100% cotton wick which is different from most wicks that use a zinc core in the middle to hold the wick upright. this zinc core combined with paraffin wax is the reason you'll see candles billowing black soot and smoke into the air. i knew creating my line, i wanted a clean burn and non harmful ingredients so that they were safe to have in the home. when you burn my candles, they don't create that black soot and smoke which gets into EVERYTHING including our lungs.
what is the meaning behind the name?
my astrological sign is pisces, which i believe channels my creativity and inspiration. when i graduated college with a degree in fine art, i was confused and dizzy trying to enter the real world. i was doing 100 different jobs — waitressing, nannying, interning at a magazine, and my mom told me, stop fiddling around and get a “real” job, so i dubbed myself a Fiddle Fish. i still have yet to have a real job!
speaking of your mom, tell us about growing up, and how it's influenced you
i grew up in the northeast in a really big extended family, playing and creating with my cousins. we would watercolor, paint rocks, spray paint (yikes!) and create/edit home movies. i was always nurtured and encouraged to be creative. we lived near the ocean, so the beach was my playground. i believe that’s why i became so determined to create a business and products that are healthy, safe and contribute to a better, more sustainable world.
what is your favorite season? sound? smell? and who is on your soundtrack?
it was always summer and fall, but since living in LA, i really love the winter. also the sounds of the ocean or any natural moving water, and the smells of garden tomatoes, jasmine, the earth, LA after a good rain. elvis, ray charles, 90s hip hop, hanson, haim, the roots, a little of everything
do you have any daily rituals? how do you slow down?
coffee, black, but lately I’ve been making my own matcha lattes at home and they’re delish! I use oat or almond milk. I try to formally work out for an hour every other day, with yoga, pilates or barre. i also enjoy walks around the neighborhood with my husband — almost every single day for about a half hour.
when we can travel again, to where?
i’d love to get to the Adriatic coast. my mother’s family is from Puglia, and i want to explore that region. every visit to Italy unlocks new information about my ancestors and awakens a new zest for food and inspires my lifestyle.
for Fiddle Fish products, candles, bath soaps + soaks, shampoo bars, visit www.fiddlefish.co