June 29, 2013
ELIDA — Think of a freshly baked pie cooling on the counter or a mug of cappuccino brightening your day. The candles offered by Living Tree Candles at area shops offer the sights and scents of such goodies.
Like many who come to own a small business, Cindy Kennedy, of Elida, turned a hobby into work. She started at the kitchen table, making Christmas gifts for family and friends. Then the friends and family wanted more candles. The friends of friends wanted them. The first time she earned money for the candles was for a church fundraiser.
“We were always big candle buyers and like them,” Kennedy said. “Money was tight, and we wanted presents for our family and friends. We said, ‘Let’s try to do this.’”
Along the way, Kennedy moved production from the kitchen to a table in the finished basement. Now candle production has its own setting in the basement workshop.
“This past January, my husband was out of town,” Kennedy said. “I just cleared out the room while he was gone.”
That room is now filled with shelves of scents, wine glasses, molds for wax fruit, teddy bears bought at wholesale and a workstation to melt and mold wax and gel.
The product evolved. Kennedy went from making mostly poured candles in jars to more specialized items, such as candles that look like fruit pies, cappuccinos, cupcakes and glasses of wine, beer and champagne. A new line of wax-dipped flameless teddy bear candles are about to hit stores. The new items have been the secret to success.
“We wanted to experiment with different styles and different looks,” Kennedy said. “You can really start making unique items. You need a unique item that no one else really has.”
Living Tree Candles now employs Kennedy’s daughter-in-law, Jessica Kennedy, as a business manager and contracts with Jennifer Marsee as a sales representative.
The candles are popular in town, as Amish Merchants, Barista, Flower Loft, Gifts of Joy, Goin’ Postal, Mara’s, Gourmet Treasures & Gifts, Pears Avenue, Readmore Hallmark, The Meeting Place on Market, Vino Bellissimo and Wine Sellers are carrying the items.
As a candle lover, Kennedy said she wanted to tackle one of the disappointments she would experience when buying a candle.
“You know when you buy candles, and the scent on them says something really yummy, and then you get them, and there’s hardly any scent to them at all? So that was our big thing, make very scented, yummy smelling candles,” Kennedy said. “That was our beginning.”
Marsee suggested the wine and beer candles, which look very real and do smell like wine and beer.
“My whole car smells like merlot,” Marsee said.
Marsee is now marketing the products in Delphos, Findlay and Ada.
“What’s great about this is that small business owners really like the idea of supporting a local wholesaler that’s smaller,” Marsee said. “They’re very much into that. The fact that it’s made in Lima is great. They want to support the local supplier, and that supports other local businesses. It’s not big-box. It’s smaller.”