It may seem like another lifetime already but do you remember the early days of Covid when we were all getting creative with our quarantine projects? There was a lot of banana bread making, tie-dying, and Tik-Tok video creation. Three Essex County middle school students leaned into this creativity in Spring of 2020 when the pandemic forced the world to follow stay-at-home orders. Jada Bednar, Ellie Ghingo (seventh graders at H.B.Whitehorne Middle School), and Ava Tsettos (a West Caldwell seventh-grader at Grover Cleveland Middle School) have turned a passion project into a business, launching JAÉ Candles & Co., a collection of hand-poured, all-natural soy wax candles. Read on to learn more about these young entrepreneurs behind a new candle company based in Essex County.
From Project to Profit
In quarantine, curiosity and boredom led to the trio experimenting with different fragrances and learning how to make candles. Although they had no prior experience with candle-making, the friends discovered how much they enjoyed crafting together, and began selling their candles door-to-door, through word of mouth and social media. After gaining the support from their community, they started to sell on Etsy and Facebook and by early October 2020, the girls had sold more than 1,000 candles.
They realized that their newfound hobby had the potential to become a full-time business. Now, a year later, the trio has an e-commerce site and recently debuted their latest collection of delicious smelling candles for Summer 2021. “We started this idea when we were home during Covid quarantine last year,” says Jada Bednar.
“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. Every candle is hand-designed and poured by us in small batches out of our homes. With the launch of our website and new line, we look forward to seeing where this takes us.”
So how do these young entrepreneurs decide which scents they want to create? “During the season before, we collect many samples of scents that appeal to us. 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” says Ellie Ghingo. “We agree on mostly everything but sometimes we get extra creative and mix multiple scents to create our secret formulas” adds Ava Tsettos.
Each candle is hand-poured and made with all-natural soy wax and cotton wicks to ensure low smoke and a smooth clean burn. In addition to their classic scents like Vanilla Cake, Jasmine Garden Tea, and Noir available year-round, the Summer 2021 collection offers seasonal aromas ranging from Mint Mocktail, Strawberry Guava, Lilac Lux, and Lemon Peel.
More Than Makers
But the girls aren’t just passionate about candle-making; they are committed to giving back to their community. The brand’s motto, ‘spreading love and light one candle at a time, takes on new meaning upon learning of the girls’ commitment to giving back. The trio has partnered with Team Zoey, a New Jersey-based organization dedicated to raising money for the Progeria Research Foundation. The Foundation’s goal is to find a cure and develop treatments for all the kids suffering from this disease, which is a rare progressive, genetic disorder. A portion of the proceeds from their Spring 2021 collection benefits the organization.
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“We try to partner with organizations like Team Zoey because it is important to do good deeds with your success. We are also trying to show other kids our age that you can give back to your community while having fun. 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” says Ellie Ghingo.
The brand recently announced a partnership with Greens Do Good, the first social enterprise vertical farm in New Jersey where all the profits support individuals with Autism. JAÉ Candles and Co. created an exclusive scent for the partnership and all proceeds will benefit this organization.
So, what’s up next for these entrepreneurs? “Once we master our different recipes and candle production, we would love to take the next step to expand our business. We would like to expand our line with more products” says Ellie.
In addition to the e-commerce site, JAÉ Candles. are currently available at Pink Bungalow in Upper Montclair, Fairchild’s in Roseland, Greens Do Good in Montclair, and, beginning in September, Jaipure Yoga in Montclair. To stay in the know, follow the brand on Instagram and visit the website to shop.