Back in the day when we had never heard about Hygge, my sister came home with the idea of making our own candles. The process involved using an empty milk carton in which a wick was steadied as we poured melted paraffin with chunks of our favourite broken wax crayons. For variety, you might put ice in the bottom first to create those awesome designs on the outside of the candle. Once the wax was set, you cut away the milk carton and your candle was ready to be gifted to your mom as the perfect addition to her “groovy” 60s décor!
Fast forward to this century, we find candles used as decor in a more subtle way. Sure, the colour and the container are important elements, but it’s the more subtle scent that creates the ambiance required in today’s home.
I recently caught up with Kelly Lietzmann, owner and creator of Just Candles Co in Langley.
For 9 years, Kelly was a personal trainer who ran an outdoor boot camp in North Vancouver. When her good friend and neighbour moved to Walnut Grove, she decided to relocate her family to this area. On one of their home furnishing shopping days, Kelly and Sarah came up with the idea to make candles that contained natural ingredients rather than the mass marketed scented candles that contained such toxic substances as paraffin (a petroleum product) and artificial scents. Their vision was to produce only one product – clean burning candles. That was 4 years ago.
Why are soy candles better than the candles I can buy at any large store?
Unlike products made in large quantities, candles and melts made by Just Candles Co are all natural, contain vitamin E and burn cleaner. As a matter of fact, you could use the melted soy wax as a massage oil if you like. They burn at a cooler temperature and for twice as long as commercially made candles.
JCC candles are sold in many venues including local craft markets. The line includes seasonal and signature collections. Sangria, one of their signature scents, is probably the most successful. This season’s bestseller has been Rum & Eggnog. Another innovation for holiday shopping has been a “mandle”, a candle with a manly scent. The mandle comes in a scent reminiscent of a Man’s Study – cognac, tobacco and leather being its most distinctive elements.
Just Candles Co tries to balance sweet, soft and floral scents in the seasonal line. Vanilla scent is very popular right now. Their vanilla is mixed with other scents, so as to not be too sweet. You can find it in many combinations such as Vanilla and Oak or Cotton Candy, Vanilla and Caramel.
“Scents are much like music. They trigger memories.”
There have been some failures in choosing the candle scent. Coffee, always in demand for its invigorating properties, did not do very well in their line of seasonal scents. It was removed in favor of more popular scents.
Another important element is the candle colour and packaging. The colours are coordinated to the trending colours so they can be used as decor pieces. As for the packaging, Kelly uses small mason jars for most of her line. She feels they lend themselves well to most home styles (that farmhouse look is so popular these days) and fit in well when displayed in local markets and shops. She has considered a recycling program for the jars, but it just became too time consuming to clean and reuse the jars. However, the jars can certainly be re-used by the customer for other purposes.
Just Candles Co produces a few other products such as car fresheners and a concrete outdoor candle called “Bug-B-Gone”. Find these in their online shop.
So how does Kelly balance family life with entrepreneurship?
She loves that she can be home with her family. The products are made in her kitchen, which is the hub of her home. This allows her to be involved in family activities and even get them to help out (you might find the odd Instagram pictures of her pouring candles with a Christmas movie on in the background). She’s considered moving some of the production facility into a separate structure on their property, but she would miss the family contact. A mother of three, Kelly tries to vary her activities during the day like supervising lunch at a local school and teaching boot camp.
She also mentioned how other makers in her network are very supportive. For instance, one might volunteer to help supervise her stand if she needs to step away, or perhaps pick up some supplies from a mutual supplier.
So what’s next for Just Candles Co?
Now that her former business partner has returned to work full time, Kelly is trying to focus on improving her online presence as the sole owner of the business. We might see the products in more retail outlets but that will be a delicate balancing act based on demand and her ability to supply her candles and melts keeping the high standards she has built her business on.
If you’re looking for Just Candles Co candles and melts, you can find them at:
- Crafts markets all over the Fraser Valley this season
- Some Spring Markets
- Retail outlets – The Mason Jar (White Rock), Simply Delish (Fort Langley), Everything Wine (North Vancouver), Arts Nursery (Surrey) and Vanilla Clothing (Walnut Grove).
- Of course their online shop is always conveniently open and accessible.
Images graciously provided by Just Candles Co.
Instagram – @JustCandlesCo