Honey Candles – Pure Beeswax Candles from Kootenay Lake, BC
We love Canadian small businesses, and we think everyone should learn the story of the entrepreneurs behind them. So with that in mind, we looked for those who sell Canadian-made products that are unique, all-natural or generally interesting. In our search, we found Honey Candles, an all-natural candle company based in Interior B.C.
I ask Leah Honkanen, who owns the company with her husband Roy, how and when she got into the candle business. “We’ve been at it for fourteen years.” She tells me, “The company existed already and they were looking for someone to take on a bit of the production side of things. One of the fellows who was involved then knew my husband quite well – my husband had been injured in an accident – and he came to us and said I have a new job for you guys.
“At first we thought that’s a different direction but it was an idea that we loved – a natural product that we could make and still stay in small town B.C. “
Leah happened upon the candle business, but she certainly made it her own. She and Roy sought out the best quality product, and aimed to keep things Canadian. “Northern beeswax is better because, for one thing, the cold weather [means] fewer pests and herbicides used in farming. Also, in the Northern climate — be it Northern Alberta, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Northern BC and actually Ontario is like this too — you get a shorter summer but longer days.
“And so, the bees have to work rather quickly and the wax is a brighter, nicer colour [as a result]. That’s because they’re not playing around with the wax, not dirtying it up.”
We talk about the demand for local products in the last few years, and Leah thinks it has a lot to do with the economic hardship of 2007-2008. She says that, since that time, Honey Candles has experienced huge growth in Canada, while US sales have petered out as Americans also move toward supporting local producers.
“People want to know that they’re getting a Canadian product. And we also source our packaging and labelling and everything in Canada.”
On her unexpected life change toward entrepreneurship, Leah has a positive outlook. “I was an office manager at a medical clinic [before this]. It’s been super interesting, all we’ve learned doing this, and running your own business. It’s just amazing.”
Some of the things she and Roy have learned? All about wax production, for starters. “The bees actually extrude the wax through their abdomens. And when it comes out it’s fairly clear or white – they chew it and mix it in with propolis and honey. Then, they make their honeycomb out of it and then collect the honey to put into the comb. The honeycomb is the wax.” And in order to create the finished product, “They spin the honey off the comb using a centrifuge. Then they melt the comb down into wax.”
The best part, is that Leah and Roy get to stay in a beautiful area of Canada, the place they call home. Kaslo, British Columbia has been called the Switzerland of Canada, or so Leah tells me. She’s surrounded by the Kootenay Lake and mountains.
“It’s very, very beautiful here with the lake and the mountains. Lots of back-country, outdoor recreation, hiking and skiing.”
Leah and Roy took a chance on a business they knew little about and the gamble paid off. Living in gorgeous Interior British Columbia, the Honkanen’s make a natural product that’s all-Canadian. Now that’s a business we can get behind.
Honey Candles produces 100%-pure beeswax candles and accessories. You can find their amazing products at retailers all over Canada.