Manhattan-based designer Alaina Young created Bijou to fit the lifestyle of the busy modern woman. As the first luxury scented refillable candle of its kind, Bijou promotes the "affordable luxe" lifestyle and beauty of upcycling. Though no stranger to startup life (Alaina is also the co-founder of a growing luxury tabletop company, Q Squared NYC), the creative director started Bijou from the ground up — from its curation of unique scents to its hand-drawn whimsical illustrations to the design of the French-inspired bases.
We picked Alaina’s brain to find out how she came up with Bijou, what motivates her as well as a few of her favorite things.
Name: Alaina Young Drew
Education: BA in Art History
How did you come up with Bijou Candles?
I secretly always wanted to start a luxury candle line that didn’t have those luxury prices — that allowed anyone to achieve their own version of luxury and feel pampered every day. As I was running the Q Squared NYC company, my ‘aha’ moment came when I thought we should create candles from a similar type of unbreakable resin material. Inspired by my European travels, I started sketching out bases that resembled vintage milk glass vases from France. I formed relationships with fragrance houses in New York and everything just snowballed from there. I can’t tell you how amazing it is to hear people tell me how much they love Bijou and good it makes them feel.
What motivates you?
Money, power, respect is the key to life. Haha jk. What motivates me is building a dream life for my family and myself. Also, constantly striving to be a better version of myself. I wake up each day and ask myself when I can improve and how.
Who has been your biggest influence?
I have two answers for this. My older brother has been a big influence in that he is probably the hardest working person I’ve ever met. He also instilled in me the quality of introspection and self evaluation. I’m always assessing myself and finding ways to improve, professionally and emotionally.
The second person is my wife, Jocelyn. Meeting her really changed my life. She really has helped me embrace who I am, she challenges me intellectually and emotionally, and she’s just so funny, it’s painful. My life is just so much better with her in it.
What is your typical work day like at Bijou?
I actually work from home most of the time because I take up A TON of space and have some quirky work habits when I’m trying to get creative. But I’m in constant communication with the team. So I usually get up, put on some tailored sweatpants so I feel like a person and make the long journey to my home office. I go between making marketing collateral and website updates and product development almost every day. I either binge watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer on an extra monitor (I’ve seen it several times, so it’s mindless watching) or blast some music on Spotify. I take occasional breaks to play with my dogs.
What advice would you give to other aspiring female entrepreneurs?
Work smart and don’t get too overwhelmed by all the things on your plate — you can do it. Be true to yourself and your needs. Don’t take things too seriously.
Hanging out and watching TV/movies, going out to eat and trying new restaurants, karaoke, road trips and skiing, although I don’t get to go as much as I’d like.
Coffee or tea:
Coffee in the morning, tea in the afternoon, pizza at suppertime.
Favorite place in the world:
Honestly, the first thing that came to mind was my bed. But in terms of places, I love the New England coast, places like Portsmouth, New Hampshire and Kennebunkport, Maine. But the list could go on forever. Really though, I probably haven’t even been to my favorite place yet.
One thing you can't live without:
“If you don’t love yourself, how the hell are you gonna love somebody else.” -RuPaul
Favorite Bijou scent:
Pink Bellini and Ambre Tubereuse
Read more about Alaina Young and her design philosophy here.