As you enter a cozy, brightly-lit room, a bell attached to a doorknob jingles and a blend of familiar aromas of flowers, foods and memories whirl through the air. A warm smile greets you from behind the counter and invites you to take a seat.
This place is none other than the hidden gem of Santa Clarita — Candle Corner — located on 23300 Cinema Drive, Santa Clarita. The recently-opened local business offers a unique experience where guests can personalize their own candle scent and style.
Inspired by The Candle Loft, a candle-making store in Clarksville, Tennessee, husband and wife Paul and Jen Soltero opened Candle Corner in late 2020.
“As soon as my wife came back [from The Candle Loft], she showed me all these pictures about how much fun she and her sister had and we went back to that place together,” explained owner Paul Soltero. “We looked around, asked some questions and were inspired that we could do it.”
The Solteros wanted to bring the comfort and fun they experienced at The Candle Loft to Santa Clarita during the tough and isolating times of the pandemic. Though Candle Corner is their second business, it is their first brick and mortar business. With those factors in mind, including opening during the pandemic, there were some challenges and difficulties.
“The hard part, of course, was when we opened. Most people were still wary of going out [and] not a lot of people were walking by,” said Soltero. “All of our stuff was word-of-mouth. We had our family and friends at first and then a couple people saw us on Facebook and Instagram. I guess the hard part would be advertising, getting our name out there and just learning to stay open when there were no customers.”
Although business was slow when they first opened, Candle Corner is continuing to grow as COVID restrictions lessen and cases drop. Soltero told the Paw Print that most people come in groups, explaining that “30-35 people can comfortably space out [in the store]” and 12 people can be served at a time.
No matter what age, anyone can participate in making these candles, but those who are five or younger need to have a parent or guardian to supervise them. Candle Corner offers safety goggles to prevent oils from getting into young children’s eyes.
In addition to allowing customers personalize their own candles, Candle Corner sells bath bombs, candle wick trimmers and candle snuffers, which are used to put out the flame.
They also have pre-made candles on the shelf that customers can purchase. However, Soltero encourages people to make a candle from scratch so they can have that personalized experience.
The special process for making these candles is surprising to many because of its use of mystery.
First, the client is given a clipboard and pen to explore shelves of assorted scented candles and are instructed to write down their favorites. Candle Corner offers a variety of fragrances, ranging from seasonal smells such as balsam fir, pumpkin and sweater weather, to popular staples such as vanilla wood, lavender and eucalyptus. Other less mainstream options include banana, yuzu and columbian coffee.
The establishment carries over 60 scents that are housed on layers of shelves. The store places dozens of jars of coffee beans to waft in order to neutralize the customer’s nose after smelling dozens of strong aromas.
To proceed, clients choose a glass container of their choice. Jars come in several sizes, colors and designs, ranging from $15 to $30.
When each person has chosen their scents and containers, they are invited to the counter and are given bottles filled with the scents they wrote down with the labels facing away. The client is then asked to smell each scent again, this time, without seeing the names of each one.
Soltero explained why he doesn’t allow customers to see the names of the scents during this process. “So that my customers don’t trick themselves into picking a scent based on the name. I want their nose to be their guide,” he said.
Customers repeat the process of eliminating unwanted scents and experimenting by smelling different combinations of scents, until they narrow them down to their top two or three.
After the final scents are selected, the customer is given a blank sticker and colorful markers to design a label for their jar.
The last step of the process is to squeeze the scented liquids into melted wax and to stir the solution. All candle wax products are 100% soy-based, clean burning and environmentally friendly. Then, clients carefully pour the hot mixture into the glass container of their choice.
And there it is! A perfectly-made candle.
Although this is the end of the process for the customer, the candle will continue to be tended by the employees.
Paul Soltero describes his aftercare process once customers make their candles: “Before you guys pick it up, I have to reheat the surface to make sure the sinkholes are eliminated and all the wax is smooth and settled. That’s the only part I do after you guys have done all the other leg work. Really easy.”
After four hours, it is available for pickup and comes with a full set of candle care directions for once the customer leaves the store.
Additionally, for returning customers, Candle Corner recycles their old candle containers made in store. Bringing these back gives customers a discount on their next candle.
Candle Corner has quickly made its name within the city of Santa Clarita as a small local business opened during the pandemic. Being the first candle-making store in the area, Paul Soltero expressed why people find such enjoyment in making candles, especially with others.
“There’s no pressure. There’s no rush. You get to take home something that you made and just kind of remember that experience when you get home and you’re burning it. I think people like candles in general just because flame is life. It’s movement, its warmth, it’s making your room smell good.”
As their second successful business, the Solteros hope to expand and grow Candle Corner to reach more people. Cats, be sure to drop by Candle Corner this winter season for a personalized gift for you or a loved one and to show your support for local businesses this year. To partake in this personalized candle crafting experience, walk in or make a reservation through their website.