With the nation facing weeks of lockdown in 2020, millions wondered, “What should I do today?” Some learned new skills; others took the time to relax. For three Essex County middle school students, they found a passion that would later turn into a business. Jada Bednar, Ellie Ghingo and Ava Tsettos launched the hand-poured, soy-based candle company, JAÉ Candles + Co., and they’re giving back to the local NJ community with every sale.
Between sessions of virtual learning, the trio started making candles. Though a new experience, they quickly realized how much they loved spending time with each other and creating wax batches.
The girls came up with some fragrances, shared their company via social media and by word of mouth, and started selling door-to-door. The Essex County community gave them plenty of support. By October 2020, they had moved to Etsy and Facebook and sold over 1,000 candles.
Over a year later, their once between-virtual-school hobby has turned into a full-fledged business. The trio has sold over 2,000 products on their e-commerce site.
“We never thought it would take off like this, but it’s exciting to see how much love and support we received from our family, friends and community,” Bednar said. “Every candle is hand-designed and poured by us in small batches out of our homes.”
The cotton wicks and all-natural soy wax ensure low smoke and a smooth, clean burn. Some of the classic scents include Vanilla Cake, Jasmine Garden Tea and Noir. Most recently, they released a summer collection, offering scents such as Mint Mocktail, Strawberry Guava, Lilac Lux and Lemon Peel. This collection is nearly sold out, but the trio is actively working on their upcoming fall collection.
Before each season, the trio creates new scents. “We collect many samples of scents that appeal to us,” Ghingo said. “Then, we all smell them and take votes on which ones we will pick for the season. We have to be open-minded when picking scents because although we may not like the smell of something, our customers may.”
“We agree on mostly everything but sometimes we get extra creative and mix multiple scents to create our secret formulas,” Tsettos said.
JAÉ Candles + Co.’s motto is “spreading love and light one candle at a time,” and they mean it. These girls aren’t just in it for the business–they want to give back to their community. Recently, the trio donated a portion of their spring 2021 collection to Team Zoey, a New Jersey-based organization dedicated to raising money for the Progeria Research Foundation. Their goal is to find a cure and develop treatments for children with the disorder.
“We try to partner with organizations like Team Zoey because it is important to do good deeds with your success,” Ghingo said.
The trio wants to show other kids that they, too, can give back to the community while having fun. Ghingo said, “Through this process, we have made connections with people we would have never before met and we hope we can make a positive impact and put a smile on someone’s face.”
This summer, JAÉ Candles + Co. announced a partnership with Greens Do Good, the first social enterprise vertical farm in New Jersey where all the profits are in support of individuals with autism.
This partnership will feature an exclusive scent called Citrus Basil. It has notes of orange peel, mint chamomile, agave, and tomato leaf. The 8 oz. Mason Jar candles will only be available on Greens Do Good website and all proceeds will benefit the organization.
You can expect more scents and collections within the next year. “Once we master our different recipes and candle production, we would love to take the next step to expanding our business,” Ghingo said. “We would like to expand our line with more products.”
You can purchase the candles on their e-commerce site, jaecandles.com.
Main image by JAÉ Candles + Co.