Profile: Lake Candles
Lake Candles is a husband and wife owned-and-operated company that creates soy candles. James and Lainey Lake founded the company in 2015, and it has grown and grown from them pouring them individually in their kitchen to a full-fledged production, where the candles are still lovingly hand-poured, and the development of an additional line, Coast. Lake Candle’s classic scents include Midwest Magnolia, Amber Sunset, Royal Romance, and Lake House, and they’ve crafted scents like Apple Spice and Fairway Fir to fill your home with the warmest aromas of the season as the weather cools off.
How did Lake Candles start?
Lainey: I was looking for a new hobby (tried making pillows and didn’t love it) so I thought making candles could be fun. I made a few for a couple close friends and they really liked them and encouraged me to make more. I didn’t know if they were “store quality” though so I had to find out for myself. I walked into the Fiddly Fig in Brookside with a candle and no clue what I was doing, but I asked if they wanted to sell our candles and to my surprise they said yes! After that we just kept making more candles and calling on more stores and kind of grew from there.
Why soy wax?
Soy wax burns slower than some of the other available waxes and it is also a safer wax for people with allergies or small children because it does not have any artificial ingredients.
How did the two of you meet?
James: We met here in Kansas City back in 2010 just out and about on the Plaza. Really just a chance encounter with Lainey making the first move!
What roles do you each have in the business? What is working with each other like?
Lainey: I handle the marketing and creative aspect and James handles the business side of things. There are ups and downs like you would have in any business, but for the most part it is fun and enjoyable. There were times back when we used to pour the candles ourselves where we would have long days and by the last pour of the day there wasn’t much being said between us!
How has the company grown since you began?
James: We’ve grown from making one candle at a time in a simple pouring pot in our kitchen to making batches of 70 with a commercial grade melter in our basement, to now having them manufactured by a local group here in Kansas City that specializes in candle production. It was a little sad to give up the “hand made by the Lake’s” portion of our brand but we just couldn’t keep up with demand. We are extremely happy we were able to find a local group though, and they still pour each candle by hand so we’ve kept that part of the process intact!
How do you develop scents?
Lainey: It’s really just a lot of trial and error to be honest. No secret sauce or anything fancy. We probably ordered over 200 different trial scents from multiple companies across the country and just mixed and matched until we found scents we liked. Then after you find the “right” scent you still have to mix them with wax and get the ratio correct to produce the best scent. It can be frustrating at times, but also very rewarding!
Fall is the perfect time to cozy up with candles. What are your favorite things about fall? What scents does the season inspire?
Lainey: I love the change to cooler weather and the idea that the holidays are right around the corner. In the fall, nothing is better than relaxing next to a warm fire with your favorite drink in hand. Our apple and pumpkin scents are perfect for the fall because it gives off such a “Thanksgiving” aroma. It’s difficult to put into words but when you smell the candles it will take you right up to the holiday buffet table!
Has there ever been a scent you wanted to make that just didn’t work?
Lainey: Unfortunately many times! We’ve had so many scents that we thought smelled great in the container but then when they combined with the wax we just couldn’t get the same aroma. Even after a few tweaks some scents just don’t work the way you want them to. At a certain point it’s just best to move on and try something new!
Tell me about your “Coast” line.
James: We wanted to develop more scents and we thought it would be fun to develop a new brand within the Lake umbrella. We really like the triangle A that we use in our logo so we wanted to do something with that while still keeping a “water” theme. Coast worked perfectly with the A in the middle and the beach/lake vibe!
What have you found rewarding about Kansas City being home base for your company?
Lainey: It’s been amazing for me being from here because I’ve had so many people contact me that I haven’t heard from in years and say, wow I had no idea those were your candles, I love them! It’s been so fun to reconnect with people through such a random way.
What is your vision for Lake Candles over the next five years?
Lainey: We would just love to see the company continue to grow and branch out to more and more locations across the region and hopefully across the country. It’s so cool when we get a random email from a customer who tells us they love our candles and it puts them in a good mood every time they light one.
What do you do full time?
Lainey: I own an audiology practice with two other partners that is based in Lee’s Summit. We treat anything and everything related to hearing and hearing disorders.
James: I am a CFO for a construction company based in N Kansas City. We do exterior restoration work on commercial buildings throughout the Midwest and down into Oklahoma and Arkansas.
Wow! You all are amazing! What with that and a new baby (congratulations!!), how do you manage your time? Do you have any advice for other entrepreneurs?
James: Thank you! It’s been a crazy three months with him but it’s been a blast! I think the most important thing to do is prioritize what’s important to you in your personal and work life. If it’s important enough you will find time for it. Sometimes that might mean you need to take a personal day to recharge, and other days it might mean you skip a social event to pour candles!
What are some of your favorite places you’ve traveled? Any bucket list destinations?
Lainey: We went to Turks & Caicos for our honeymoon and absolutely LOVED it. It’s by far my favorite vacation spot. The water is beautiful, the beaches are incredible, it’s just the most amazing place on the planet. We would like to travel to Europe, maybe Greece or Croatia, but it’s probably going to be awhile for that with a new baby keeping us busy for now!
If you could indulge in a day without any responsibilities related to work or otherwise, how would you spend it?
Lainey: I would definitely be on a lounge chair at the beach with a tropical drink in my hand. No better way to relax!
James: I think a mountain vacation slightly edges out a beach vacation for me so I think I could go for a pool day and hot tub evening under the stars in the Rockies, sign me up!
Find Lake Candles for sale at all Made in KC locations and online!