Science tells us how evocative the sense of smell is, so much so that some high-end hotels use scent branding to set them apart.
It’s exactly that link between smell and memory that inspired Terry Brown to open Brown House Candle Co., debuting in Midlothian on May 7. The concept is simple: Customers come for a pour-your-own custom soy candle experience in a studio designed to offer an array of scents that can be custom blended.
With 100 fragrant oils displayed on the wall, customers get to play mad scientist, creating a scent unique to them and whatever memory they wish to evoke as part of the process of creating a hand-poured, scented 8-ounce candle. Soy candles, known for holding scent better than other types, burn for about 8-10 hours per ounce.
To explain the custom nature of her studio, Brown points out that two people could come in, both intent on making apple pie-scented candles and both would use the same oils: apple, cinnamon and caramel. But one might be intent on creating a sweeter smelling candle, which would require a bit more caramel oil, while the other, seeking a spicier apple pie scent, would use more cinnamon oil.
“The joy of this is creating a candle specific to your very own preferences, something you don’t get when you buy a candle at the store,” Brown explains. That said, pre-made soy candles are available for sale at Brown House, but they’re all single scented.
In addition to candles, customers can also play scientist at the candle bar and create other scented products such as lotion, hand soap, sugar scrub, bath salt, aromatic spray and reed diffusers, all of which can be scented with a custom fragrance blend. Candle-makers have a choice of vessels to pour their handiwork into and can create custom labels on Brown’s Bluetooth printer with photos from their phones.
The origins of Brown’s interest in candle-making occurred when she went to throw out an old candle and wondered how she might reuse it. From there, she researched until finding a company in Atlanta that offered partnerships that taught the foundations of candle-making as well as mentoring to open a candle-making business. “I work for the state, but that’s not my life,” Brown says. “I wanted to do something on my own. I liked the idea of a partnership because you’re on your own, but you have a group to go to for advice and information.”
Brown House Candle has applied for its ABC license so that, like wine and paint enterprises or make-your-own terrarium businesses, customers can enjoy a glass of wine while candle-making. That kind of activity with benefits makes the candle-making studio attractive to group events such as birthday parties, showers and girls’ night out get-togethers. Because the candles need an hour and a half to set up before they can be taken away, Brown thinks the concept will appeal to many kinds of groups who can rent the space for an evening. A book or Bible-study group could come in, make candles and then have its book discussion while the candles set up, or a moms’ group could follow candle-making with child-free conversation. She’s planning “pour and protect” evenings with candle creation preceding police officers giving safety tips to women. The studio is also available to walk-in clients.
The time is right for candle-making, according to Brown, now that we all spend more time at home. “Candles can take you to places you need to go, even provide a Zen moment,” she says. “To be able to create from scratch a candle that reflects your mood or a special memory is a way to enjoy your home more.”
It isn’t a quick process, though. Deciding what oils to use represents time invested to smell likely options, while the blending process necessitates another 20 to 25 minutes of stirring and sniffing until the ratio of wax to oil tickles your nose and memory’s fancy. Brown strongly suggests that if you find a blend you love that you record the recipe in case you want to re-create it in the future. Otherwise, she says, no two candles will ever be the same.
If it sounds like a lot, staff are always on hand to assist with every stage of the process.
“Most important, we want you to have fun and create something you’ll enjoy,” Brown says. “Then just bask in the fact that you made it.”
The Brown House Candle Studio is at 6131 Harbourside Centre Loop in Midlothian.