the only (queer) candles you need for a cozy, quiet winter
homemade candles with homegrown herbs. NYC based.
Even though we’re a little more than a month away from the chilly winds of winter, candles can, thankfully, be enjoyed in any season and in any space. whether you have a sprawling home or a teeny, tiny apartment in Brooklyn, an enticing scent transforms seemingly routine moments.
Ab and Al, the creators of the soy-candle-making Queer Candle Co, design their scents and candles from the herb pot, up. From Cinnamon Holly to Lemon and Lavender, their creations are as cozy as they are quirky.
We recently asked Ab and Al about their craft, how they show up in the world, and how they’re weaving together business and purpose in a meaningful way.
1. You're both around candles quite a lot and know them inside and out. What are candles - introverts, ambiverts, or extroverts? Candle-loving minds want to know!
ab: It depends on the scent, every candle is different after all. Sweet Grapefruit & Mint is for suuure an extrovert. Lavender is an ambivert. Basil & Amber is an introvert.
al: Ambiverts - candles give me quiet and thoughtful vibes, but they really exude through any room they’re in! Much like a lot of ambiverts, they might seem a little reserved at first, but as they burn and spread through the space, they make people feel comfortable and calm.
2. Where do you land along the introvert-extrovert spectrum? And as you've gone from candle hobbyists to business owners, how has this process had an impact on you?
ab: I think I’m an ambivert. I really need time at the end of the day to chill or I’ll go crazy - luckily Al is the best roommate and we’re good about having downtime. Starting our business brought out my extroverted side, though. I am comfortable meeting with and talking to people when it has to do with candles because I‘m confident and passionate about our business and our products.
al: I’m naturally very introverted, so it can be a little challenging for me to push myself to get outside of my comfort zone as we interact with a whole set of people I’m not familiar with. However, it’s definitely good for me to work on pushing my limits in the interest of growing QCC, so I’d say the impact has been largely positive! The biggest help to me is being able to build the business side by side with Ab, so we’re never facing things alone.
3. The combination of scents really make your candles unique - whiskey & wood or cucumber & sage. Tell us about what inspires the scents for your candles. What does this creative process typically look like?
ab + al: We love to try new things, so a big part of growing our scent list has been an attempt to branch out from more typical candle smells. Beyond that, as we try to grow or locally source our herbs and other candle toppings, it is important to us to choose scents that smell more natural and that have a fresh element to them. For example, we make an Apple Tree candle, that really smells like you’re outside in the orchard, rather than an apple pie candle, that would smell more food-y rather than fresh and woody.
4. What's that one step of the candle-making process that you absolutely love? Which step do you mind most challenging?
ab: I love decorating the candle tops - adding an apple slice and leaf to the Apple Tree candles or sprinkling needles on the Winter Spruce. My least favorite thing is measuring our scent oils. I get so in my head about the math! Al is much better about going with the flow and seasoning the candles to taste rather than sticking with a specific recipe.
al: I really enjoy melting down the wax and pouring it into containers - it’s so much fun to take these plain wax chips and make them into something that looks and smells so appealing. I don’t particularly love putting labels on the containers - that’s something we try to be very precise about, and I like to work really quickly, so it can be challenging to slow myself down and make sure that each one is the best it can be.
5. Ten percent of your monthly profits are donated to the Sylvia Rivera Law Project. What led you to choose this organization and what sort of impact do they make in the world?
ab + al: When we were deciding where to direct our QCC donations, SRLP stood out not only because it’s a grassroots organization working directly in our community, but also specifically because of their focus on amplifying the voices of TGNC people of color. As very privileged folks, we want to make sure that we are using Queer Candle Co. to support (both with our voices and with our funds) an organization that is promoting visibility and protection for those who are systematically and cyclically oppressed/erased.