You would think that, with the word “colonial” in its name, the new candle retailer on Market and Meeting Streets might have a historical connection to the Holy City.
And you’d be right . . . sort of. Colonial Candle was founded in 1909 by Mabel Baker, a teacher in Cape Cod, Mass., who was inspired by Native American candle-making techniques to craft bayberry candles as Christmas gifts for friends and family. Baker’s tapers grew into an international candle brand overnight, and the quality has remained high.
MVP Group, a large private-label candle manufacturer that has been located in Charleston for over 10 years, purchased Colonial in mid-2011, making Charleston the new home for the brand.
Customer response has inspired the company’s popular Paris and Charleston collections and its Sea Salt & Yuzu scent. This spring, a new fragrance, Tea Olive Bloom, will be introduced. Colonial’s product manager, Amanda Lowe, says the fragrance was inspired by a tea olive tree found in her mother’s front yard. The Charleston Collection, which includes popular scents like Yellow Jasmine and Rainbow Row, has been available at the Colonial Candle store since it opened its doors in October 2012.
Colonial Candles are easy to spot by their trademarked and patented oval-shaped jar and two wicks. “The shape and the wick placement help the candle to burn evenly all the way down,” Lowe explains. “And you can easily reuse our jars for Q-tips, cotton balls or even a plant holder.”
With 45 core fragrances and 28 seasonal scents, customer feedback is essential to Colonial’s continuing popularity.
Charleston is home to the company’s only retail store, which serves as its testing and research facility as well. Any fragrance that Colonial thinks might go well in a line is put in fragrance testing rooms in the downtown store to get customer responses.
—Erin Holaday Ziegler