Hernando native Lauren Johnson started her company, DeSoto Candle Co., to save money on one of her favorite products.
Johnson said the idea for her business came to her when her husband asked her to stop shopping at Bath and Body Works so often. Bath and Body Works is a fan favorite for its uniquely scented candles and body products.
“I started DeSoto Candle Co. in January of this year,” Johnson said. “I love candles and my husband thought I was spending too much at Bath and Body Works so we decided to start learning how to make our own.”
Johnson began learning how to make her own candles, but soon realized the process would take longer than she thought.
“Learning how to make candles certainly wasn’t an overnight process,” Johnson said. “It took hours and hours of experimentation and research. There were tons of YouTube videos involved, and it took a while to really feel like I had the perfect formula.
One of the difficulties Johnson encountered while trying to perfect his formula was burning the candles evenly. Tunneling is a common problem with candles and can prevent customers from burning the entire candle.
“You want the wick to burn the entire diameter of the candle,” Johnson said. “Otherwise you end up with this tunnel effect that causes the candle to burn unevenly. So I had to make sure I had the basics right to prevent that from happening.
DeSoto Candle Co. now has more than 40 different scents that Johnson says they have handcrafted. Some of the scents include apple orchard, peach nectar, sleep, and sunflower.
“I handcraft all of the candles and melted wax from our home in Hernando,” Johnson said. “We have over 40 different flavors and melted waxes. Each candle or wax melt is usually a combination of several different scents to make one.
When deciding on recipes for her candles, Johnson said choosing the type of wax to use was also a challenge. She eventually opted for paraffin wax, due to its ability to retain scents.
“Paraffin wax, soy wax, and coconut wax were all options when I was trying to figure out where to start,” Johnson said. “Even though soy wax is the most natural choice, it doesn’t hold the smell very well, so we decided to use paraffin. This way we could make one drop of scented oil rather than having to use a lot for each candle.
Johnson currently colors her candles with liquid and canned dyes to create solid colors, but she wants to experiment with marbling and swirling techniques.
“All the candles are solid colors right now,” Johnson said. “I try to coordinate the scents of the candles with the colors, for example, the apple orchard scent is a merlot color to represent a red apple. I’m doing more research and considering doing marble patterns and swirls for candle color.
Until now, Johnson said she’s still trying to figure out exactly how to market her business.
“It’s been a very slow buildup,” Johnson said. “With any business, I feel like you have to make sure you have the perfect audience and ad strategies, so we’re always trying to figure that all out.”
DeSoto Candle Co. has a booth at most local vendor markets and at the Lander Center flea market, but Johnson said she would like to open a storefront eventually.
“I do local vendor events and the Landers Center Flea Market,” Johnson said. “I really try to get my name out there and let people know how much I love what I do because I really want to open a physical store in the future.”
Johnson is currently working on new products to bring to customers, including sugar scrubs.
“I’m currently working on a line of different sugar scrubs,” Johnson said. “I ship to all 50 states, so a big part of making this new product is making sure it doesn’t leak when I ship it. So far I’ve already done a test run and they sold out, so hopefully I can start selling more soon.