How it started

In 2015 a 17 year-old film student in Central Pennsylvania, so full of curiosity and the desire to create, taught himself how to pour candles by watching videos on Youtube. Experimenting with different fragrances, Alexander turned his mom’s kitchen into a candle lab, coming up with signature blends that would eventually become part of the Classic Collection. A bit more self-teaching led him to create the business plan for Moonrise Candle Co; simple aesthetic, natural fragrance combinations, Wes Anderson inspired brand name.

Alexander brought the plan to his father Paul for help, who immediately got on board and loved getting involved with creating new blends and candle production. In 2016, the father and son duo was able to officially incorporate the business. What was once just making candles for family and friends would lead to the first Moonrise pop-up at HBG Flea that October.

Working at a distance

Alexander moved to NYC for college in 2017, while Paul held down the fort back home in PA, tackling candle production for orders and selling at markets on his own. Between being a full time student in a new city, Alexander juggled the website, online orders, and other business operations out of his dorm room.

Running a small business on top of a primary job and college was a challenge for the duo, but it did not slow the Moonrise train down. By 2018, business had scaled up and candle production moved into a studio space at the Millworks in Harrisburg, PA. Thanks to the increased workload, Paul was able to leave his job and pursue Moonrise full time.

A bunch of half-way meetups in New Jersey, long nights juggling homework, and a global pandemic later, Alexander felt so much gratitude for his dad’s dedication and he imagined bringing Moonrise Candles to NYC markets.

Astral Origin

2021 was a year of new beginnings. After many long talks about their careers and brainstorming sessions about a new line of candles, Alexander brought on his boyfriend Gabriel. An actor and self-assigned candle connoisseur, Gabriel made a great fit joining the family business.

The couple found a small Brooklyn studio for candle production in February, Alexander finished school in April, and Moonrise Candle Co. sold at its first NYC market that May. A lot can happen in a New York minute, or year, and by the end of November the Astral Collection was introduced to the world. 

Thanks to support from both Central PA and NYC, 2022 was another great year. Through all the frustration of operating business across two states, gratitude was the driving force behind the team and their dedication. This hard work was shared through new fragrances and sizes, a Refill System for the Astral collection, and the first candle making class hosted at the Greats of Craft.

An Expansive Future

NYC rent became astronomically high and by November of 2022, Moonrise had completely moved production out of the city. Through the wonderful stores that carry Moonrise, and by continuing to plan trips to the city for candle classes, Moonrise maintains a presence in NYC even though Alexander and Gabriel had to return to PA. 

The upcoming year seemed full of uncertainty, but instead the team chose to view it as full of possibilities. Alexander and Gabriel now had more room to bring their passions into the business, such as creating a stop motion holiday short film and working on more media projects for the company. And Paul had two extra pairs of hands to handle growing wholesale orders and sales from the Millworks studio. 

This year we continued to grow and even found the time to work on an official Moonrise font, new website and overall brand refresh. While the year went on to be full of many other accomplishments, this brand refresh was born from the same creative energy that propelled Alexander to dream-up Moonrise in the first place–an energy that will continue to lead us forward.

Team Moonrise

Alexander Zemaitis

Paul Zemaitis

Gabriel Guevara