By Lindsay Schluntz
Photos by Kathryn Bell
When Lori Newell started making candles, she wanted the faces of those who burned them to light up, and she wanted them to ask for more of their fragrance. And so came their name, Crave Candle Company. Today you can find them all over the world, but their lives start right here in Helena.
As a graduate of Auburn University with a major in Small Business Management, Lori describes herself as an entrepreneur at heart. She now has over 30 years of business development behind her. “I’ve created, driven and marketed brands that no one knew anything about,” she says. “I’ve done it so many times for other people, and I finally decided, ‘Why not do it for myself?’”
So five years ago, Crave Candle Company began at Lori’s kitchen sink. “I wanted to create a product and brand and get it across the country. As I looked at the market, I knew there was room for another luxury brand soy candle,” she continues. “I’ve always loved candles in my own home. It’s so warm and inviting having a great smelling candle. Candles have been sold for hundreds of years of course, but I felt like I could improve upon them.”
Her goal was to marry a luxury candle experience with beautiful home décor quality containers. To do so, she spent nine months researching and designing just the right candle. “You can have a pretty container, but if the scent isn’t good, no one is going to buy it,” she says. “Once I got my proprietary candle formula right with the right blends of fragrances, waxes and essential oils, I knew it would take off!”
What exactly makes a candle brand luxury? Lori says it is the fragrance load percentages and the quality of the essential oils in the candle. “It makes it very organic and it smells amazing—people love that!”
Once Lori got the candle blend right, she moved on to creating beautiful containers that would double as home décor in any room using mason jars, mini dough bowls and black matte designs. “We ended up with a great candle that burns amazing and smells really nice in a container that enhances the room and just looks beautiful.”
The candles come in a wide variety of scents, but the most popular is Midnight Blue Citrus. “People call and ask for it and all my stores have to carry it to meet the demand,” Lori says. “That was the effect we really wanted—that people would love our fragrances so much they would hunt it down (and) they’d truly crave it!”
When the pandemic began to touch businesses and homes in 2020, the company started making hand sanitizer as well. The product features the same essential oil and fragrance blends as the candles, plus alcohol to sanitize and glycerol to soften. This combination ensures that not only are the users’ hands free from germs, but also that they smell fragrant.
Going into 2021, you’ll be able to find their hand sanitizer product in every Cracker Barrel in the country. Keep your eye out for all three sanitizer fragrances—Lavender Eucalyptus, Tobacco Spice and of course Midnight Blue Citrus—in the stores, plus the unscented version of the product available locally.
Also speaking to pandemic times is a fragrance mist that can be used as a mask spray. Lori says day spas specifically requested this product, and she designed the one-ounce bottle with four essential oils. Peppermint acts as a cooling agent, and eucalyptus opens up your airway so you don’t feel like you’re getting all stuffy. “You can actually almost enjoy wearing your mask!” Lori says of its function.
The brand can now found in stores throughout Alabama and in 900 locations nationwide: luxury day spas, ladies’ boutiques, gift stores, florists and a number of other mom and pop shops. Still, Lori has bigger dreams to take them international, a goal she reached in November when she landed a contract with Saks Fifth Avenue. Private labeled Crave Candles will be available in 90 Saks stores nationwide, in 18 stores in Canada and on their website. “Although they’re private label candles, the warning label still says it’s made by Crave Candle Company in Helena, Alabama!” Lori boasts.
Not only that, but Crave Candles were delivered to a high-end décor store in the Cayman Islands in December too. They found the candles on Instagram and joined as a wholesale account on the Crave Candles Company website so they could offer these products to their customers.
And Lori takes particular pride in the reality that candle fans from a Caribbean climate up to Canadian cold this winter will be craving more of a product that is made in Helena, Alabama.
Where to Find Crave Candles
Find Crave Candles online at cravecandlesco.com or shop locally at Shelby County retailers that carry the brand, including the ones listed below.
- Blue Moon Petal Florist, Greystone
- White House Interiors, Highway 280,
- Inline Lighting, Pelham
- LJ’s Retail Therapy, Alabaster