Focus On: Kalamazoo Candle Company

WRITER | CANDIE CONAT
PHOTOS l KALAMAZOO CANDLE COMPANY

When Adam McFarlin landed in Kalamazoo to earn his master’s degree in music performance, creating an amazing candle company was the last thing on his mind! As he tells it, the creation of Kalamazoo Candle Company was a “happy accident” when he found himself with some free time around the holidays. McFarlin decided to search online for things he could make and sell for extra cash. He literally Googled, “things I can make,” and a list of 50 things popped up. As he browsed the list, candles caught his attention. McFarlin spent that entire weekend researching candle making. He read about techniques, the many different ingredient combinations, and the wide variety of candles that were on the market.

Soon, McFarlin found himself with a table full of candle making supplies and, he says, “Some really bad candles.” Those bad candles motivated him to keep working and perfecting his craft, so it wasn’t long before he was giving them away to friends who loved them, and Kalamazoo Candle Company was born on October 6, 2013.

McFarlin decided early on that his candles would be 100% soy wax. Many candles on the market claim to be “soy candles” but can have as little as 10% actual soy in them. Also, his candles have a paper wick, a unique feature that McFarlin says offers a better “throw” or flicker of the flame. The candles are created with no dyes and are made with natural ingredients to the extent possible. McFarlin works directly with his fragrance manufacturer to ensure that certain chemicals are not going into the scents he uses.

That very first holiday season in 2013, Kalamazoo Candle Company products were sold in five stores. By the next season the count grew to 18 stores, and, by 2016, they were being sold in 76 stores across five states. McFarlin now sells to 150 stores and began exporting to South Korea in 2017. He attributes the company’s great success to his drive for perfection and a superior product, but also to his good fortune in hiring all the right people along the way to do the things he knew nothing about.

In 2018, Kalamazoo Candle Company will have 30 scents in its product line-up. The five original scents were Pumpkin Patch, Baked Cinnamon, Apple Candy, Fresh Laundry, and Vanilla. Of those, all but Vanilla are still being made. McFarlin loves crafting unique scents with catchy names, aromas like I’ve Got a Gal, a very light and citrusy floral scent; Tobacco Cedar; and Fresh Cut Grass, that, he says, “really does smell just like fresh-cut grass.” One of the newest aromas that has been a big hit is Hearth and Home, a rich, buttery scent with hints of maple and bourbon.

As of this writing, the spring 2018 scents had not yet been named, so be sure to visit the website to see what fun names spring up. I can assure you, however, that the new fresh scents will include some cucumber and pineapple along with a new take on rose. McFarlin says this is not your Mama’s rose-scented candle — it will be rich and spicy.

The company receives many requests for specific scents, to which McFarlin takes the “Henry Ford approach.” Because he wishes to introduce people to new and different fragrances, McFarlin’s team sorts through the requests and brainstorm ways to create a new twist that hasn’t been seen (or smelled) before.

2018 holds many exciting milestones for the Kalamazoo Candle Company. They plan a big push to expand from a regional Midwest base and take the products nationally and will move to a new and larger facility with a better retail space to accommodate the growing demand for these amazing candles.

Kalamazoo Candle Company Parks Trade Center – 326 West Kalamazoo Avenue, Suite 209M, Kalamazoo MI 49007 l (269) 532-9816 l KalamazooCandle.com