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On October 21, 2013, I went to my local craft store to see what I could find to keep me occupied in my free time. I have always been an artistic/creative person. I enjoyed drawing, painting and sculpting but I knew there had to be something more. I browsed the store isles until I came to the do it yourself section. I saw a "Do It Yourself Candle Kit" sitting on the shelf. A light bulb went off in my head "this is it" I thought to myself! I bought the kit and took it home. I watched candle making videos on YouTube, one thing I learned is that I could color candles with crayons... As I gathered old crayons and rummaged through my Dad's canning cupboard, I pulled out a few of his canning jars and the adventure began!
Here were my very first candles ever produced! (I look at it now and I have to laugh a little bit, what was I thinking). Colored with red and pink crayons and scented with cinnamon. It took me FOREVER to come up with the name "Love Lights" which I would end up changing two more times before The Homestead Farm was established. I hand wrote my tags which said "100% soy wax candle. Handmade and Hand poured with Love" and I tied all my little bows and stuck them to my candles with glue dots.
So, my name "Love Lights" didn't last long. I changed it within a few months to "Country Love Candles". I got signed up for my first bazaar at my mom’s church in December of 2013. I was so excited to start selling my candles! My mind went crazy and I started coming up with ideas to be more "professional". I designed and printed a label for my candles, found wholesale companies to order from (instead of going to the local craft store) and upgraded my jars! I also stopped using crayons to color the candles! Bad idea!
At the bazaar, I had a whole table set up. I had my candles for sale, wax melts that I had packaged in individual bags, apples and gift baskets. Since my grandfather is an apple grower in our area, my mom had the idea to sell apples and it worked out well. I was so surprised at how great I did for it being my first event and I felt super accomplished!I signed up for a few more holiday bazaars in 2013, one at a local fire hall and another at a Ruritan club.
The following year 2014, I had decided I was going to go to college to get a degree in Agribusiness Marketing and Management. I knew that I wanted to be a part of the family business but wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to do with this degree. I was always passionate about agriculture. My dream was to open a farm market. At this point, I had no idea how my life would unfold. The same year my aunt contacted me and asked if I would sell my candles in her Farm Market! I was absolutely thrilled! So, I got busy.
Here is my aunt’s first batch of candles with her custom made label. I look at them now and think "oh my". I still can't believe that I tied the twig heart AND the heart charm around them. I did my best at the time. (I got rid of the twig heart but I still use these metal heart charms today that say "handmade with love")
I graduated college in the fall of 2015 with an associate degree and continued working for my family renovating rental houses and working a part time summer job at a farm market. I continued making candles, doing holiday bazaars and selling online. I expanded my “business” in 2015 by making handmade soaps, body salve and beard oil. I had renamed my “business” once again to “Whitesell Candler”. My last name was Whitesell and my middle name Candler. Candler is a family name, the maiden name of my dear Grandma, Mary. The definition of candler is: A person who makes candles. That is me! At the time of changing my name again, it dawned on me that I was destined to be a candle maker all along.
I got the news that the farm market where I worked was going to be shut down by the beginning of 2016 because the business owners were moving back to their hometown. My grandfather owned the property where the farm market was located. I had an idea! I talked to my mom about opening our own farm market at the location. She agreed that she would help me if that is what I really wanted to do. As soon as January came around, we started cleaning up and renovating the land and the market building. We worked SO hard all through spring and summer. Not only were we doing the renovations but also planting and maintaining the fields. On August 13, 2016 we had our grand opening of The Homestead Farm at Fruit Hill Orchard.
I was so happy, and I finally had a storefront for my candles. The Homestead Farm candles were born in early 2016 and my name will never change again.
Back in 2013 when I went to that craft store, I did not know where the “adventure” would lead me. I cannot help but feel like my candles, soaps and body products were part of my motivation for wanting to open The Homestead Farm. It almost brings tears to my eyes because of how far we have come and what I have been through to be here today. I don't know where I would be without the support of my family members and friends. Words cannot express my gratitude towards everyone who has helped me become the small business owner I am today.
I hope that by reading my story, some of you may be inspired to do what makes you happy. If you would like to read more about my journey, subscribe (on the home page) to receive email updates. Stand by, more stories to come!
My handmade candles are available on this website, in our market store, on Etsy and in various places in Winchester.