Erin Felder is the founder and owner of local business, Gracious Candles Co. DAVE KLASSEN PHOTO

The Side Hustle: Erin Felder Makes Wicked Candles

We’re heading steadfast into the snowy season and that means curating that cozy atmosphere in our homes that gets us through the winter months. What’s one of the best ways to do that? Scented candles, of course. Thankfully, you can get gorgeous candles with pure, fresh scents from Erin Felder — the owner of local business Gracious Candles Co., who has perfected the organic, 100% natural candle-making process out of her home in Baden.

“I love to cook and when I use essential oils it reminds me of that because you’re creating something by blending different oils together. [Without fragrance oils] I can’t make a scent like apple pie, but I find with essential oils, you can really create scents that remedy,” Felder said. 

“[It’s] those smells that help you remember things, that bring back memories.”

Felder discovered her knack for natural candle making during her time at Legacy Greens, a local grocery store in downtown Kitchener. Over the four years she worked there, she did a lot of creating and making within the space, which included experimenting with essential oils and making delightfully scented candles for holidays like Valentine’s Day. 

“We did them in mason jars in the back … they became pretty popular and throughout this whole time, I knew in the back of my mind I wanted to do something more with them,” said Felder. 

With support and encouragement from her coworkers and partner, Felder reached a point where she decided to give it her all and invest in turning her side hustle into a full-time business. 

“I started really giving it some thought, taking different courses, and watching other makers to see how they did things. Finally, I just took the plunge … we created a workshop down in our basement and now that’s where I spend all of my days,” Felder said.

Gracious Candles Co. began with their “Small City” product line, which Felder created to pay homage to and celebrate Kitchener’s downtown core where she picked up her entrepreneurial, creative spirit. It was with that product line that Felder collaborated with Kailey Hawthorn, a local artist who designs the lovely labels you’ll find on Gracious’ candles.

“Since then, Kailey and I have worked together throughout the year to create the equinox line for spring, summer, fall and winter. So now we have five product lines as well as our minimalist line which is a great way of sampling our product — sort of a smaller taste of what we carry that’s great for gift giving,” Felder said.

Collaboration has become an important and enjoyable component of Felder’s business..

“That’s the thing that excites me the most … working together with other makers in town. People in our community create such beautiful things, and I love the way when we put them all together, we’re able to create something new and different that we couldn’t have done on our own,” Felder said.

In various capacities, Felder has also collaborated with local businesses like Acre 75, All Things Tea, Gifted Waterloo and Good Company Production’s Concert in a Box. Her products are also promoted proudly by several local shops that carry them including Legacy Greens, Truth and Beauty Co. in uptown Waterloo, Baden Coffee Shop and more.

Felder continues to diversify her product streams and has recently begun creating and selling incense as well, featuring her personal favourite: Gracious, their namesake candle, with palo santo wood, rose and black pepper. 

Gracious Candles Co. is all set for the holidays, with their seasonal line and gift boxes available online now, with plans for future collaborations and new products to come in the new year. 

“My advice for other makers who want to launch their own business would be to invest early on,” Felder said. 

“You may not initially see that return on investment but here I am a year in, and I’m starting to see that those early investments really pay off down the road. Even though it’s been a difficult year for a lot of small businesses, I’m grateful for the way this community has really pulled together. You can feel the support everywhere you look.”

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Jenna is finishing up an English and Business degree at the University of Waterloo while working in KW’s tech industry part-time. She also has a passion for journalism and is a freelance writer. When she’s not working, you can find Jenna singing around town, picking through the poetry section of used book stores or soaking up the sun whenever she has the chance.