Lilly Crown Wilder is the poster child of Cottagecore. The self-proclaimed “funky granny” is the creator of Relume Co, an upcycled and vintage home goods label that proves personal style extends far beyond the clothes we adorn ourselves with.
The online store specializes in soy wax candles, reworked textiles and jewelry created from vintage and restored materials. Think earrings fashioned with the found objects of everyday life, bold quilted jackets and her popular “terrarium” candles. The brand also hosts regular candle-making and upcycling workshops.
When Crown Wilder chatted with District Fray, she’s sitting in her back garden, clouds passing overhead with the occasional dose of sunlight. This seems only appropriate when the designer explains Relume Co’s name is a nod to reillumination.
At its core, the label symbolizes “breathing new life into things, reimagining and adding value to people’s lives while also being eco-friendly and sustainably sourced,” she said.
Spending her formative years three hours south of Washington in a small town in Virginia, the creative comes from a long line of homemakers.
This environment largely influenced her desire to keep up with multiple forms of artistic expression, whether it be knitting or quilting.
What’s so attractive about Crown Wilder’s approach to design is that her process is an effortless extension of her personality. Growing up, when no one was making bold fashion choices, Crown Wilder proudly wore hand-me-downs from her aunt (a badass screen printer who lived in New York in the 70s). When thrifted Doc Martens and pattern-on-pattern layering weren’t mainstream, she continued to style fits anyways.
Crown Wilder embeds this ethos into Relume Co. Personal style — whether through fashion of home decoration — develops out of an honest expression of oneself. When the pandemic struck, Crown Wilder saw an opportunity to reinvigorate her expression, and began experimenting with repurposed materials (such as denim and old farmhouse windows) used to create handmade craftwork.
The early stages of the business evolved into restoring antique quilts to create patchwork jackets, and compiling second hand tea cups to make candles.
This trial and error process soon led Crown Wilder to experiment with silicone molds to make wax flowers and succulent plants for the “terrariums.” The brand also recently launched “blind date with a book,” a curated selection of pre-loved novels with a surprise title.
Of all of the core-aesthetics, Crown Wilder’s creations are undeniably cottage chic. But what takes the designer’s décor to a level beyond aesthetics is her definitive eye toward sustainability.
While there are many ways people can practice sustainability on a day to day basis, Crown Wilder remarked an appreciation for how her patrons also repurpose Relume Co’s unique pieces. “You know, people will tell me — ‘Oh, after I finished using your candle, I turned it into hair accessories,’ a little catch all,” she said.
“I like that kind of the products are helping people think about small actions that they can take in their daily lives,” she said. “It’s inspiring people to think about other objects in new ways.”
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