Stop and smell the candles

Christopher Owens, owner of Owosso Candle Company, has candles available at Itsa Deli Thing in downtown Owosso for customers who want to smell or purchase the candles in person rather than online.

OWOSSO — An Owosso man is on his way to establishing a brick-and-mortar presence for his candlemaking business, from which he hopes to benefit the community.

Christopher Owens, founder of Owosso Candle Company, has “always loved candles,” but knows that he doesn’t look the part.

He doesn’t let it ruffle him when people point out his mismatched book/cover situation. He finds it funny.

Sure, Owens can often be found riding his motorcycle, sporting leather from “head-to-toe,” but that doesn’t mean he can’t like things that smell pretty.

The decision to turn his apprecation into something tangible came last winter, after a nasty bout of COVID-19 in November that Owens admits he did not believe he would survive.

While Owens expressed a relative equanimity in the face of death — “I believe that God has a plan for all of us. If it’s my turn, it’s my turn,” he said — after he recovered he felt a desire to make a mark before he went. In particular, he wanted to leave something behind for his six children.

He had already been researching candlemaking best practices after his daughter Aryanna expressed interest in the craft back in August — learning the right ways to melt the wax, mix in scent and how to properly cool to avoid air bubble — so he decided to leverage his expanding knowledge for a new business.

Owosso Candle Company achieved liftoff back on March 1, but securing a premises hasn’t been simple.

“All options are up in the air right now,” Owens said. “Right now I’m going to focus on building a thousand candles so I’m ready to open.”

For now, customers can shop online at owossocandles.com, but Owens says that digital retail, for as much as it has revolutionized commerce, does a poor job of accomodating scented items.

“Nobody really wants to buy them online because you can’t smell them,” he said.

To mitigate this issue, he has a small sales display in Itsa Deli Thing, in downtown Owosso, where he is a silent partner.

Owens’ first order was from Owosso Public Schools for whom he made over 500 candles in under two weeks.

It was a labor-intensive process which ate into a major chunk of his free time — Owens makes his candles at night, since he has other work obligations during the day — but he was able to get it done, much to OPS’s satisfaction.

“Owosso Candle Company exceeded my expectations for the order we placed for staff appreciation week,” Jessica Thompson, the district’s community education director, said in an email. “I always look to do business with local companies and Chris delivered a high quality product before my deadline. I am eager to continue supporting Owosso Candle Company in the future.”

Thompson heard about Owosso Candle Company via a social media post made by Shiawassee Economic Development Partnership President/CEO Justin Horvath.

Horvath said Owens asked him to be a “smell tester” for his candles. In the Facebook post, Horvath had nothing but praise for the “Kentucky Sweets” candle — OCC’s current top seller.

Some of the other scents include “Granny’s House” (which smells like banana-nut bread) and “Monkey Melons” — a fusion of coconut and mango.

One of Owens’ ideas moving forward is to allow people to submit suggestions for candle names based on the scent. Whoever comes up with the winner would receive a large candle of their choosing.

All of Owens’ candles are made of 100% soy wax and are offered in three different sizes. Owens also sells wax melts and offers various services such as refills and custom laser engravings on the larger candle lids, which are made of tin. Glass containers are not eligible for engraving at this time.

Besides wanting to leave something for his children, Owens cited a desire to positively impact Owosso as a reason for starting his candle company.

Owens feels a great debt to the commmunity.

He moved to Owosso in 2016 after a long battle with drug and alcohol addiction which started when his wife passed away in 2008.

He said the welcomed him “with open arms” and that his friends from here played a significant role in helping him get back to who he was before his wife’s death.

“I love this community,” Owens said. “This community saved my life.”

Owens wants a portion of Owosso Candle Company proceeds to be diverted to various local charities.

“Each group of candles is going to be tied to a nonprofit,” Owens said. He has his eye on a couple of organizations, but said any are eligible and can approach him if they are interested.

Another idea he has is for a “candle bar” where customers can sit and learn to make candles for an evening out.

“Don’t get me wrong, I love the bars around here, but we need more stuff to do after five o’clock other than a bar,” Owens said. “I don’t use alcohol like I did in 2008 to 2014. It’s a social thing now, it’s all about control — knowing your limits and sticking with it.”

(1) comment

Mother Hen

Much success on your new adventure!

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