Writer/ Christy Heitger-Ewing
Photographer / Brian Brosmer
Jennifer Sturgill, Owner of Unplug Soy Candles, has always adored interior design and décor. She has also loved candles.
“I think there’s something special when you go into someone’s home and they have candles burning,” Sturgill says. “It creates such a warm, cozy environment.”
In 2015, Jennifer began making soy candles in her home. After perfecting the candle making process, she started selling her hand-poured 100% pure soy wax candles at the Noblesville Farmers Market, which enabled her to gauge customer likes and dislikes. If she found there was a fragrance that flopped, she discontinued it. At the same time, if people repeatedly requested a scent, as they did with Hazelnut Coffee, Sturgill responded accordingly.
Sturgill also started selling her products via Etsy and at local boutiques. Before long, her business really started booming, prompting her husband Joe to come on board full-time.
“It went from making candles in our kitchen, down to the basement bar, then up to the guest bedroom, our 3-car garage, all our spare bedrooms. After a year and a half, candles took over our entire house,” Sturgill says. “That’s when we decided it was time to open up our own shop and manufacturing facility in Fortville.”
Though they remained in that location for three years, they quickly outgrew the space. When a location became available in Fishers earlier this year, the husband and wife duo felt fate intervening as a lot of their customers live in Fishers, Carmel, Westfield and Zionsville. Being centrally located was a huge plus, not to mention the extra square footage. The new location has three times the manufacturing capacity and twice the retail space as the previous shop.
They made the big move to Fishers this July, smack dab in the middle of the pandemic. When COVID-19 hit, Jennifer and Joe did what every other business owner around the country did — they pivoted.
Long-time customer Dianna Kennedy has always been impressed with the owners’ passion and commitment to their products and customers.
“Jennifer and Joe are so friendly that when you walk in the door as a first-timer, you walk out feeling like an old friend,” Kennedy says.
Unplug Soy Candles are made of the most environmentally-friendly wax possible, hand-poured in small batches, and use only premium natural fragrance oils with lead-free cotton wicks.
“Pure soy wax candles burn about 60% longer than a candle with paraffin in it so you get a nice long burn,” Sturgill adds. “The lead-free cotton wicks mean you’re not burning lead into the air. Plus, we highly fragrance our candles so they smell great when they are not lit but even stronger when you light them.”
They sell a total of 19 scents, including holiday fragrances like Balsam & Cedar, which is available year-round due to its popularity. Hazelnut Coffee is hugely popular, as is Sugared Citrus. Sturgill introduces one or two new fragrances a year and will occasionally retire a fragrance to keep things fresh.
They now sell in more than 400 stores nationwide, as well as Canada. Though wholesale is their bread-and-butter, the retail, candle workshops, and the online side of the business have substantially grown these last two years. They offer open candle pouring hours and workshops throughout the week, as well as private parties. As the holiday season nears, exclusive workshops grow in popularity so Jennifer and Joe will likely offer additional workshop opportunities.
Plus, Unplug Soy Candles has a number of collaborative opportunities in the works with other local small businesses.
The weekday open pouring hours require no reservation. Exclusive workshops require a reservation, however. If someone schedules a private party — say, for a holiday celebration or team building event — everybody makes two candles. Prices vary depending on choice of size and vessel.
Because they are considered an art instruction facility, during private parties (which can accommodate up to 20 people,) customers can bring in their own food, wine and beer.
As for shopping the store, customers can buy pre-made candles or make their own. People can also build their own gift basket for just $10.
“They can come in, pick their items, and we’ll make it up for them into a pretty display with fun crinkle paper, a ribbon and a tag,” Sturgill says.
They also sell other fun accessories like match cloches, wick trimmers, candle snuffers, drinkware, bath soaking salt vials, exfoliating sugar cubes, bubbling bath fizz and more.
“We can be your one-stop-shop for a gift basket,” says Sturgill, who feels lucky to be able to meld her love of interior design with decorating and mingling with people.
“This business allows me to bring everything I love together. I get to share that love with everyone in the community,” says Sturgill, noting the company’s tagline, “Where incredible fragrances & home décor meet.”
Customers are thrilled about the company’s move to Fishers.
“The new store is top-notch,” Kennedy says. “I feel like a kid in a candy store, pursuing the huge wall of vessels for pouring my own candles.”
Sturgill feels very grateful to be where she is today.
“If you had told me six or seven years ago that I was going to start and own a successful candle company in five years, I would have laughed,” Sturgill says. “But if you work hard, have a great product and treat people with kindness, that’s how a small business grows.”
Open Monday through Saturday, Unplug Soy Candles is located at 12550 Promise Creek Lane, Suite 108 in Fishers. For more information, call 317-505-9000 or visit them online at unplugsoycandles.com.