There is nothing quite so comforting, healing, and inviting as the smells of happy memories, of holidays past and present, and of the anticipation of a change of season. They say you can never go home again, but the vintage-inspired candles of Antique Candle Works come close, as with its top-selling Christmas Day candle, which Antique Candle Works founder and owner, Brittany Whitenack, raves, “is exactly what Christmas smells like.”
Christmas Day, along with its sweet-smelling mason jar counterparts such as Autumn Leaves and Back Roads, has its roots in what began as a hobby for Whitenack, who graduated from Purdue in 2012 with a degree in management. After a year as a manager for Target, which she credits for teaching her the value of branding and perception, she realized the job wasn’t a great fit for her and that it didn’t leave her with much personal time. In search of a fulfilling hobby, she decided to start making candles. “I started out by making a few batches and tweaking how I made them, experimenting with fragrances in figuring out how to make them smell better,” she recalls. Whitenack gave her homemade candles to family and friends as Christmas gifts but saw potential beyond hobby fulfillment in a market for candles that had a farmhouse and vintage appeal.
Antique Candle Works was launched in January 2014, and today its candles are sold in more than 60 retail stores throughout the U.S. and Canada, at select artisan pop-up markets such as Hunt and Gather and Fetching Market, as well as in a few online stores including its own website. In a market saturated with mass-produced candles, Whitenack says the appeal of Antique Candle Works lies in the simplicity, purity, and quality of its mason jar and antique candles. “Our candles are made from 100 percent soy wax in raw form, which is melted down and hand-poured by a small team including myself," she says. "We use fine fragrance oils that are phthalate-free, the candle wicks have a cotton core and are completely metal-free, and our candles contain no colors, dyes, or additives.”
She also credits Antique Candle Works’ success to the farmhouse look of its mason-jar and antique candles—“It goes with the popular, Fixer Upper style, yet also appeals to many because of the old-timey, vintage, timeless feel”—and to prioritizing and maintaining an intimate interaction with her loyal customer base through social media. “Big corporations are out of touch with customers with their automated responses,” she says. “We value personal care and concern. We’re genuinely interested in what our customers have to say and in addressing their concerns.”
Loyal customers who follow Antique Candle Works on Facebook and Instagram, and those who subscribe to receive emails, are granted advance notice of sales of its coveted line of antique candles. Whitenack says, “Because the vintage vessels that the wax is poured into are indeed antiques, there are a limited number,” typically 30 to 40 antique candles sold per month, the sale of which are available only on its website, antiquecandleworks.com.
Whitenack, who recently relocated from Chesterton to Lafayette with her husband, Daniel, and their pug, Waylan, is proud of her product and of the joy it brings to her customers—each candle comes with a card signed by the person who poured it.