By Jack Chavez, Staff Writer
With an entryway only a few inches wider than its door, you might miss Honeywater Candles, the new
business on the block at 16 Main Street in Berlin.
Still, you might find your way to its entrance, up the stairs and into the store if you allow the alluring fragrances wafting from dozens of handcrafted candles to sweep you off your feet like a cartoon character mesmerized by the scent of an aromatic pie resting on a windowsill.
Worcester native Natalie Blanton owns and operates Honeywater Candles, which opened its brick-and-mortar location in April.
For the last few years, Blanton has been selling her homemade, soy-based candles online and at the Berlin Farmers Market. She said opening a physical storefront fulfilled a dream she’s had since her days at Berlin Intermediate School.
“My mom worked in Berlin and I would walk home from Berlin Intermediate to where she worked and kind of walk around the streets and dream of one day maybe having a little shop,” said Blanton, seated at a small table near a window overlooking Main Street in her second-floor store.
The store’s offerings include some creative takes, such as the dandelion candles, which feature dandelions that she and her 4- and 7-year-old children picked themselves and dried, or her mosaic candles which feature leftover, colorful bits of glass embedded in the wax donated by local glassblower Jeffrey Auxer.
“I moved away in 2007 a couple of years after I graduated high school,” she continued. “Went to Colorado, met my husband. We traveled a whole bunch and through the journey, while I was (still based in) Colorado I studied massage and ended up studying aroma therapy, then got really into perfumery and the olfactive technique of creative scent and the connection that it creates between memory and how flavors are increased by your scent receptors.”
She added that she wanted to make something more approachable for a broader audience.
Blanton has a specific process for crafting her candles and describes her setup between where she makes them and where she sells them as a “tricky situation.”
“I can’t make them here, but I can’t sell them there,” she said, referring to the wooden shack she uses a few miles away to make her candles.
Blanton underscores that her candles are crafted with much more care than a candle that one may find at Walmart. The ingredients are also much healthier, both for the customer and the environment, she said.
“It’s a 100-percent soy wax that’s farmed in the U.S.,” Blanton said. “There’s no paraffin, the scent of the candle is made up of a combination of phthalate-free fragrance oil and essential oils. There are no hormone disruptors or known carcinogens. A lot of commercial candles will use paraffin wax and less safe fragrances. And the wick is just cotton.”
Paraffin wax is derived from petroleum, coal or oil shale comprised of a mixture of hydrocarbon molecules. Phthalate is an industrial chemical toxin that has been linked to a host of health issues.
To make her candles, Blanton starts with wax she receives in flake form “so it’s already been processed from soybeans into wax by the time I get it,” she said.
Using a “huge vat” that melts the wax 60 pounds at a time, she raises the mixture to a temperature that’s appropriate for adding fragrance, measures some out and pours it into the wax pitcher. She then stirs for a few minutes before letting it cool so it can be poured into pre-wicked jars.
“That has to get solid. Usually, I let it sit overnight before I move the candles. And then they cure for two weeks before they’re sold. The fragrance really develops in those two weeks,” Blanton said. “It’s a process.”
She added that the candles can be used before that two-week benchmark, but they aren’t going to throw any scent unless someone is right on top of it.
When it comes to going up against commercial candlemakers and retailers, Blanton said what sets her apart is the local and domestic aspects.
There are those partnerships with locals like Auxer, but there’s also the fact that she regularly donates to environmentally-minded organizations.
This year, a portion of the dandelion candle profits will go to a pollination-focused organization that encourages pollinator colonies, she said.
Though she describes herself, ultimately, as a “one-woman show,” Blanton’s family helps out, too.
If she can’t be in the store, her husband will man the register. Their 4- and 7-year-old children enjoy putting warning labels and lids on candles and organizing and reorganizing the store.
“A part of the whole process has been wanting to include them and making them feel like they’re a part of it too,” Blanton said.
Blanton said she’s also finding support as a member of the tight-knit Berlin business community.
“It’s a great community to be a business in. The chamber has been awesome. I’ve had nothing but great support,” Blanton said.
As of June 20, Honeywater Candles is open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday and Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, but Blanton said those hours are sure to change in the weeks and months ahead.
This story appears in the print version of the Bayside Gazette on June 23, 2022.