This Local Company Lights Up Homes All Across the Nation
When Kelley Major and CJ Graaf first launched Candelles in 2013, they were pouring candles in their kitchen. Seven years, three office spaces and over a hundred scents later, their home business has grown into a full-scale operation. Candelles’ all-natural soy candles can be found in boutiques and gift shops all over the country, and they’ve even earned a shoutout on Good Morning America.
In terms of success, they’ve come a long way, but when it comes to the physical distance, this Hazleton-based company has always kept it close to home. We headed to their production facility at the CAN BE Innovation Center (which might one of the best smelling places in NEPA) for an inside look.
Small Batches, Big Success
Building the company took a lot of dedication and an entrepreneurial spark.
Candelles originally began on Etsy. Kelley had always dreamed of having her own business, so the online platform seemed like the perfect place to start. She DIY-ed tons of candles—until she realized that the wicks weren’t burning properly. She shut down the online shop, refunded her customers and put away her supplies.
Candelles stayed on the backburner until August 2013, when Kelley’s grandmother was diagnosed with cancer.
“That was a huge thing for my family. It was very hard. She was like the rock in our family,” Kelley explained. “I thought, I have tons of candle supplies left over. I can try to formulate a new candle. I did some testing, and they worked.”
She sold the new and improved candles as a fundraiser to help cover the medical bills. Sadly, her grandmother passed within a month of being diagnosed. Through the grief, Kelley found her outlet in making candles.
Kelley and CJ’s house soon became a candle workshop, beginning in the kitchen and then taking over the living room. Eventually, Candelles would outgrow the home workspace and several offices too. Then, they received a big break when they appeared on Good Morning America’s “Deals and Steals” segment.
“We were standing next to small businesses that were on Shark Tank,” Kelley recalled. “Scrub Daddy was on the GMA special with us. It was really interesting because these were people who, as an aspiring entrepreneur, I watched on the show.”
During the GMA segment, Candelles also received a grant from Vistaprint, which helped them get into trade shows and accelerate their wholesale business. About 350 gift shops and boutiques currently stock their products, ranging from as close as Jim Thorpe to as far away as Japan.
Clean, Simple & Eco-Friendly
Nothing’s mass-produced here— there’s a team of real, dedicated people behind every candle.
Everything’s done by hand, and we really mean everything, from pouring the hot wax to sticking the labels to bubble wrapping the jars for delivery.
Candelles also uses all-natural ingredients. They start with flakes of 100% soy wax, which is a clean alternative to the chemicals and soot of a traditional paraffin wax. The wax is melted into a clear, golden liquid and mixed with alcohol-free, phthalate-free fragrance oils. Then it’s poured into the jar with a lead-free cotton wick and placed on a rack to cure. It takes about a day for the candle to cool and harden into its final form.
So. Many. Scents.
To date, Candelles has made over 100 different fragrances.
The Best Sellers collection features 12 signature scents, each with a sleek and colorful design. Cabin Getaway—a cozy blend of cinnamon bark, bayberries, cranberries and orange zest— is always one of the top choices. This warm and spicy scent used to only be available in the fall, until customers started asking for it year-round.
Other favorites include Pomegranate Cider, the first scent Candelles ever created, and Fig & Sugar, a sweet and earthy candle with a deep purple label.
“The color palette is one of my favorite parts about the redesign,” said Kelley. “You can take any three candles and put them together.”
Candelles releases seasonal collections throughout the year. When we visited, they could barely keep their holiday candles on the shelves with irresistible scents like Blue Spruce and Gingerbread Spice.
They also make a Black Label collection, which features luxurious scents in upscale tumblers, and a Necessity collection with inspirational fragrances and designs.
Shop Local & Spark Some Joy
Strike a match and try them out for yourself.
Visit Candelles’ website to browse through their collections and place your order. Check out our exclusive DiscoverNEPA deal to score free shipping. You can also find their products at Trend & Source Marketplace in Jim Thorpe.
Note: Due to COVID-19, Candelles has experienced delays in replenishing their jars and tumblers. Supplies may be limited through the end of the year. Keep an eye on their website for updates on availability, or pick up a gift card for some future shopping.