Teen candle business expands beyond the basement
When Gibbons Company agreed to sell Chloe Burns’s candles, the teenager was both excited and stunned.
“It feels a bit weird that people are willing to buy things that I made, literally in my dad’s basement,” the 15-year-old said.
For the past two years she has been running candle making enterprise, Crystal Wicks, selling home-made candles that have scent, herbs and crystals embedded in them. The candles have names like Calm, Transformation and Protection. She also has a holiday candle that is selling well, right now.
Chloe started selling candles and jewellery two years ago through a website but since May her products have also been available at Gibbons Home Store, Gibbons’ craft department and Ani’s Beauty Lounge on Victoria Street.
To get her products into the major local retailer, Chloe first had to go through an interview process with Gibbons chief executive Tony Thompson, and also a buyer.
“They asked me about all the different types of candles I make,” she said. “They asked me my wholesale price and retail price.”
Since then, Gibbons has placed two orders with her.
The Saltus Grammar student has become more efficient since starting out. Previously, she had to wait two hours for the wax to melt before she could begin production. Now, she has invested in equipment that drastically reduces that time.
She has also learnt to do a lot of testing to make sure everything works correctly.
“Persistence is key,” Chloe said. “I have learnt to keep going even when I hit a roadblock, even if it means going back a few steps.”
The teenager is also more focused on sustainability.
“After you are done with the candle, if you clean the jar out and bring it to me I will refill it at a lower price,” she said. “You can pick the colour, scent and crystals. I'm also starting to integrate plastic-free stickers.”
Her product line has grown to include make-your-own candle kits. She has also just added a new candle called Focus; something she needs to balance entrepreneurship and high school.
“I’ve got an exam coming up next week that I have to study for but I also have an event on this weekend selling candles,” she said.
Her dream is to become a wildlife veterinarian, so she is also a student volunteer at the Bermuda Aquarium, Museum and Zoo and a junior apprentice at Dolphin Quest.
“I am now at the point where the business has become profitable,” Chloe said. “A lot of it goes back into the business. But I am also saving for a bike and then I’m saving for a gap year. I would like to travel before I go to university.”
Chloe wanted the general public to know that each candle she makes is hand-made and unique.
“A lot of people don't know that I do this,” she said.
It can be a time-consuming process.
“It takes about 15 minutes to melt the wax,” she said. “While the wax is melting, I'll prep the jars by putting in the wicks and fragrance oil. The candles take about two and a half hours to set.”
Decorating the candles also makes the minutes tick by. She admitted that smashing geodes to get to the crystals inside was a fun part of the work.
Her holiday candle takes her the longest to produce.
“That has garnet, quartz and gold leaf in it,” she said. “I have to peel off the gold leaf and put it in the candle and the gold leaf doesn't always come off properly. That can be frustrating, but it is worth it. My holiday candles are really pretty.”
• Crystal Wicks candles will be on sale on Saturday at the Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute’s Harbourside