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Updated: Feb 1, 2021

In February 2018, I launched my Etsy shop (Saint La Croix), where I sell candles made with recycled seltzer cans.

I came up with the idea for Saint La Croix after a friend gave me a can of maple syrup from Canada—apparently the most authentic form of maple syrup—and I thought that I could use the can to make a maple syrup scented candle. I reflected on other things made out of metal that I could upcycle into candles, and as an avid seltzer fan, I realized that making candles out of La Croix cans would give me a good excuse to drink La Croix.

To my surprise, demand for the candles quickly became quite high as they were a unique product in a sea of other La Croix trinkets on Etsy. I had a growing candle empire at the expense of my neglected SodaStream. My home office was (and still is) filled with an apocalyptic-size stockpile of La Croix cases, and if you visit my apartment, you would undoubtedly be offered nearly any La Croix flavor your heart desires. The appeal of this became clear when I threw a birthday party for my dog (which involved mostly people and minimal pets), and I was left with much of the alcohol I had purchased for the occasion. I had inadvertently created a luxurious La Croix haven.

So in honor of this side hustle, I created some fun graphs in R using ggplot and a couple of packages I had been wanting to try, but would have no reason to use on a daily basis: Magick and LaCroixColoR. Since obviously I was curious if anyone had used both packages, I googled, and I was delighted to come across these graphs by Laura Ellis that visualize stock prices of National Beverage Corp (FIZZ), which owns La Croix. Thanks for the inspiration Laura!

As a first goal, I wanted to create a map that showed where I send the most candles. The top five states I send the most candles (in descending order): 1. California 2. Illinois 3. Texas 4. New York 5. Ohio. California, Texas, and New York are among the top five most populated states in America, so the probability that I would send a candle to those states is high. But what about Illinois and Ohio? Fun Fact about La Croix: it's from Wisconsin. Before being the beverage of millennial dreams, La Croix was very much a Midwest beverage. I am from Illinois and associate La Croix with soccer moms.

I used ggplot and ggmap to create the map, and magick to add the super chill La Croix pamplemousse can. Confession: I actually wanted to add a gif of La Croix Boi to this map, but the gif appeared glitchy and pixelated. I tried really hard to make this vision a reality, but it didn't work out. Out of respect to La Croix Boi I used an official La Croix company gif instead. During my plight, I noticed that I always had trouble adding gifs that were a full panel (rather than a moving image over a transparent background); the gifs would reliably show up glitchy and pixelated. If someone could explain to me how to overcome this, I would greatly appreciate it!

What candle scent is the most popular? I created three 100% stacked bar charts comparing the distribution of different scents purchased in U.S., California, and Illinois. I used the LaCroixColoR package for this graph (pamplemousse color palette). Unsurprisingly, grapefruit is the most popular. Here's a bold statement: I suspect pamplemousse is the most popular La Croix flavor. It's so non-offensive. It also makes a great candle scent. Passion fruit is the second most popular candle I sell, followed by Coconut. In my experience, coconut is like the cilantro of La Croix flavors. Do you like Coconut La Croix?

Finally, I was curious about candle sales during November and December. This was my first holiday season as an Etsy seller, and I was terrified. I started ramping up candle production in early Fall, and by December, I was spending all my spare time making and packing candles. Towards the end of October/early November, my market monopoly dwindled as other individuals began selling La Croix candles, which was probably good for my own candle-making sanity. Candle sales increased right after U.S. Thanksgiving up until December 18 - my shipping cutoff date. When December 18 hit, I put my Etsy shop in vacation mode and experienced an Oprah's-favorite-things euphoria.

In case you were wondering, I have sold exactly one candle outside of the U.S. to Canada, but I didn't include it in the analysis. Sorry Canada.

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