Co-founders Harry Doull and Steve Tracy started Keap in 2015 in an effort to answer one question: “In an always-on world, how can we reconnect with ourselves and restore our balance with nature?” A few years later, they’re busily churning out hand-poured and coconut wax-based candles from their studio in Brooklyn, supplying a sense of peace and comfort to restaurants, stores, and homes across the United States.
A believer in the art of pausing and slowing down, we’ve asked Harry some questions on how he’s been coping and taking care of himself during the trying times of COVID-19. Read his thoughtful and reassuring answers below.
Have you started practicing a new daily ritual that you didn’t have time for or that you didn’t feel the need for previously?
H: I’ve started doing morning yoga (shout out to @yogawithadriene’s Youtube channel), which started off as a replacement for exercise and has become something I really enjoy and will probably keep doing when the lockdown ceases.
Did you start reading or watching anything recently that brings you comfort?
I watch New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s daily address and try to avoid hearing what the White House is saying. It’s been fascinating watching the governor step up as a crisis leader—I feel like I’m learning both about current events and getting a master class on leadership at the same time.
Staying home has meant more time to be in the kitchen for us. Have you been cooking? Have you discovered any nourishing recipes that are your favorite right now?
Yes! Cooking was a nice ritual my wife and I had before, and we now cook even more. She cooked an amazing gluten free apple crumble the other day! Generally speaking, we’ve been cooking a lot of “fusion-y” bibimbaps because it’s so easy. Just sauté lots of veggies with plenty of garlic or ginger, and throw that with some kimchi on hot rice/quinoa, and you are in heaven.
Woodcabin candle by Keap Photographed by JONATHAN HÖKKLO
“I’ve started following a Youtube course on permaculture while I have breakfast. It gets my mind out of my cramped city apartment!”
Any playlists or artists you can share for focusing while working, unwinding in the evening, or releasing pent up energy any time of day?
We’ve been going on a bit of a Japanese City Pop wormhole (and singing and dancing to this song about a man’s love affair with a mermaid) and I re-discovered how much I love Chances with Wolves’ weekly mix.
It can be hard to get exercise when we’re inside most of the day. Have you found fun ways to get physical activity in?
I actually need to do more on this front. The yoga is great but I’m looking for something more that I can enjoy. Our apartment is tiny and has low ceilings which makes a lot of home workouts challenging to do, so if anyone has any tips...
Have you begun any unexpected projects?
I’ve started following a Youtube course on permaculture while I have breakfast. It gets my mind out of my cramped city apartment!
If you’re currently working from home, what helps you balance home life from work life? Do you have any boundaries between the two that keep you productive?
This is always challenging and there was an additional learning curve as self-isolation started. My wife and I try to do a hard stop of work at 6pm, but I haven’t been hitting that most days.
How have you been staying connected to family, friends, and the outside world?
Any tips for boosting our immune systems and staying healthy?
Yes, actually. I’m not sure I would guarantee any clinical medical benefits, but both Steve and I have become somewhat addicted to Immunshein (based near Kingston, NY), and I’ve been popping some of that in a cup of tea before I go to bed. It’s really delicious and feels nicely soothing.
Do you have any general/overall advice for remaining calm during this period? What has felt restorative for you?
Definitely—being mindful about news consumption has dramatically improved my mental health. I used to watch Cuomo (feel kind of better!) and then Trump (oh my god, we’re all going to die) and then see that the New York Times is all doom and gloom, and it would just paralyze me. Cutting that down to basically just Cuomo has made me able to get my act together and work on a professional and personal plan to get through this. Having a plan (even if you then diverge from it) is so empowering! And I’m getting even more time to sit next to a candle, which I always find calms my nerves!
Waves candle by Keap Photographed by JONATHAN HÖKKLO
Woodcabin Candle by Keap
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Images by Jonathan Hökklo and Still House
Interview by Ivy Schneider