By Melissa Lin
November 21, 2016
Ever held on to a ratty, old sweater that you should have tossed ages ago, but didn’t because it’s your favorite? Or maybe your desk is lined with trinkets from who-knows-when that are useless save for their sentimental value. Luckily for us nostalgic people, there is Stay Lit by Guchi, a new small business that perfectly combines sentiment, function, and design to turn old glassware into beautiful home décor.
For around $20 depending on the product, Stay Lit owner Sarah Moriguchi takes used glassware such as old champagne bottles and cuts them into planters, natural soy wax candles, vases, drinking glasses, and more. Customers can send in their own glassware to be cut or pick from an inventory. Moriguchi even picks up bottles from customers personally, or, if the customer lives far away, she pays for shipping costs needed to send the bottle to her.
The creative upcycling business began recently—just June of this year. While it started out as just a hobby that catered to Moriguchi’s friends and family, it has grown into a small side business with a following that continues to expand. As there is no physical location for the products to be purchased, Moriguchi communicates with her customers through Facebook and Instagram.
We had the opportunity to talk with this innovative small business owner about her products.
Tell me a bit about the history of Stay Lit. What led you to create the business?
I’m a hoarder and I collect a lot of things that are sentimental. I keep all the champagne bottles and stuff like that. I’ve just collected them and then I had no use for them. When my boyfriend moved in—you know, we’re trying to get rid of things—I didn’t want to get rid of all the bottles that were pretty or had sentimental value. So my friend had suggested something where you can cut the bottles and then utilize them as candles or larger vases so I decided to do that. It went from there.
Tell me what it takes to turn a bottle into a candle.
I do this in my kitchen at my house. So I bought a bottle cutter, which pretty much scores the bottle. Wherever you want to cut the bottle you’ll kind of create a scratch along the bottle and then you heat it over a candle. So you heat the part that you scratched and then you put it in ice cold water and it should just break apart. But it does take some practice.
I went through about 10 bottles to start getting it to a smooth cut and then I learned a couple tricks along the way. I use a rotary tool first to grind it down on the edges and then I hand sand each bottle to make it a smoother top.
So just June of this year I started cutting all the bottles and then friends encouraged me. Friends would buy them and give them as gifts for wedding presents.
It started out as something I wanted to do as a hobby but also grew from that just because everyone does the same thing I do—they keep their bottles for sentimental reasons, you know? Weddings, anniversaries, and stuff like that. It kind of just grew. Right now it’s definitely family and friends who are helping me out, but I do hope to enter markets to grow it.
I’m the same way, by the way. I hoard bottles that I think are pretty and then they sit in my room and I don’t do anything with them.
Right? No, exactly! And then you try to use them as vases and then you can only fit two or three flowers. So I love it that you can open it up and use it as an actual vase.
Did you always know that you would have a career that combined business with aspects of environmental consciousness or was that an unintentional outcome?
It wasn’t the main goal but it was definitely something that has always interested me. I always wanted to do something to give back or just be environmentally conscious, so it was the perfect mixture of the two. In college I majored in apparel design so with that you really think more environmentally and sustainably so it was always an interest. With this it was just a good coincidence.
What are your favorite scents and bottle designs?
I love lavender. It’s pretty much a good staple; it’s really calming and I just love the scent. It’s also supposed to be really good for helping you sleep. In terms of bottles I love Veuve Clicquot bottles, they have a pretty classy look to them and they’re easy to cut which makes me happy.
What are the most popular products so far?
Definitely anniversary bottles or [when] people have their own [bottles]. It depends on the bottle size but for $25 I cut your anniversary bottle and then I can create a candle from it or a vase. That’s been pretty popular.
Have there been any especially odd, unique, or challenging product requests?
My friend did ask me to cut one of the skull [Crystal Head] vodka bottles which is extremely hard. That was definitely the most challenging cut of bottle I had to do.
Do you think one day you’ll want to have a physical location or is this the most ideal model for what you’re doing?
I think I would like to have a workspace area just because working through my kitchen with shards of glass is a little bit scary. I don’t really see a storefront but I definitely would love to maybe get into a couple stores like Watson Kennedy or something with home furnishings. I think that would be nice but that’s definitely down the road.
What is in store for the future? New scents? Expanding the business? New ideas?
It’s still kind of all an experimental. Right now I’m just kind of focusing on building an inventory of candles.
Stay Lit will be at Ethnic Seattle’s Shop Small, Shop Ethnic Holiday Campaign on November 26.