Embrace the scent of the holidays
The holiday season is officially here. Once the joy and feasting of Thanksgiving finishes tomorrow, the Oregon Garden in Silverton will kick off Nov. 24 with its holiday market and event "Christmas in the Garden."
The event features ice skating, snowless tubing, photos with Santa, more than 600,000 christmas lights, fire pits and live music each night. This year will include a new Biergarten for guests ages 21 and over. But the pinnacle of Christmas in the Garden is the holiday market with 25 artisan vendors, including Wilsonville's Haute Candles.
Haute Candles — the name inspired by haute couture, meaning "high fashion" in French — was a side business for Wilsonville resident Kari Kramer until 2015 when her candles were included in the swag bag for one of the U.S. film industry's biggest events: The Academy Awards, also known as the Oscars.
"That's kind of what launched my business from a little mom and pop thing making candles at home," Kramer said.
Like the name suggests, Kramer's candles are high-end, luxury items. Made with organic premium, non-GMO soybean oil grown in the U.S. and essential oils and fragrances, the candles are hand-poured in small batches to ensure freshness. Since the candles are scented without harmful additives, preservatives or phthalates, the candles are "clean-burning candles" safe for those with asthma or allergies.
"What started my company was the endless pursuit of trying to find a healthy candle to burn at home that, No. 1, did not bother my son's asthma and, No. 2, didn't give me migraines," Kramer said. "I'm really, really sensitive to fragrance — I have to hold my breath when I go through the perfume department and I have to hold my breath in the laundry aisle. But I found out that it's more about the additives and preservatives than it is the actual fragrance oil."
Kramer's candles are colored with plant-based dyes, including beet and turmeric. Even without the additives and preservatives, Haute Candles have a three-year shelf life.
But with quality comes cost. With the average price hovering in the $20-plus range, Kramer says that they can seem pricey. But compared to comparable candles sold at Nordstrom for w$80-plus, Kramer says that they're a terrific deal.
"Soy burns anywhere between 30-60 percent longer than regular candles," she said. "So my little, baby candles that I sell for $25 burn longer than the big, huge Yankee Candles."
Kramer does a market or show every weekend, but she said that the Christmas in the Garden crowd is within her niche market.
"In the endless pursuit of finding the right holiday shows, someone recommended Oregon Holiday Garden to me and I've done a couple of other events with them, like the Brewfest," she said. "But they've always had another candle vendor that's been with them since the beginning (of Christmas in the Garden)."
Two years ago, that all changed and Kramer said that she works between 90 and 100 hours per week to keep up with the orders during the holiday rush. But she said that it's all worth it being able to make clean-burning and safe candles for the whole family to enjoy.