Kalamazoo Candle Company's original production equipment
About 3 1/2 years ago, I spent a weekend learning the art of candle making. After a quick Google search and a trip to the local craft store, I came home with a bag of candle making supplies and proceeded to pour my very first batch of candles using a simple crockpot and a ladle (pictured above). In hindsight, this first batch was pretty awful... but, as is the case with anything new, there was a learning curve.
A few batches later, the candles started to get better. I was eager to share the finished product with my friends, who suggested I try my hand at selling the candles.
I decided to give it a shot. I purchased a few sheets of labels from the local office supply store, then went home and designed a few label options before heading downtown to poll random passersby on their favorite design.
"Market research" completed, I went home and labeled some candles using the more popular design. I shoved a couple candles into my coat pockets, walked into Handmade Kalamazoo, and asked if they would consider selling my candles in their shop. Lo and behold, they gave me a chance. I pulled the candles out of my pocket and set them on the counter, sealing the deal on my very first wholesale partnership.
Our very first retail display at Handmade Kalamazoo
A few short years later, Kalamazoo Candle Company is still churning out candles -- but on a much different scale. Everything is still poured by hand, but a few things have changed: the work is now shared by a staff of 5 employees, we've upgraded from a crockpot to a 750-lb-capacity industrial wax melter, and our production area has migrated from an empty corner in a spare bedroom to an 1,800-square-foot shop in the Park Trades Center in downtown Kalamazoo.
Perhaps the most exciting part is that we're now partnered with over 100 retailers around the country. It's amazing to look back at how far we've come since that day in October 2013, when the first retailer agreed to take a chance on a stranger with a pocketful of candles.
I speak for everyone on my team when I say that we're grateful to everyone who's supported our journey so far, but especially thankful for every retailer who has cleared a spot on their shelves for our candles.
There's something to be said for believing in someone who's just getting started. I often wonder where we'd be today if those first few retail partners hadn't agreed to partner with us?
It was that nostalgia that inspired us to curate a package that would not only delight our customers, but highlight other local makers in the process. That's why we dreamed up Illuminate Crate, our new monthly subscription box.
Once a month, Illuminate Crate subscribers will find a fun surprise on their doorstep. Each month's box will include one candle, one box of custom matches, and a surprise gift from a fellow local Kalamazoo maker. As an added bonus, subscribers will receive 10% off any Kalamazoo Candle purchase, whether online or in person at our shop, for the lifetime of their subscription. ** If you subscribe by May 1, we'll increase that discount to 20% off any Kalamazoo Candle purchase!**
We're excited to roll out the first batch of Illuminate Crates in May! Don't miss out -- subscribe now and treat yourself with something lovely each month. (You deserve it!)
As always, my team and I thank you all for your support along our journey. We know we couldn't have done this without you.
~Adam, Owner & Founder