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Orange Blossom Special

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Jacque James and her mother

BURNING PASSION: Jacque James and her mother started candle-making as a hobby.

Jacque James and her mother used to make candles as a craft. It was just a fun hobby … until James asked, “Why are we spending so much on this?” Good question. The answer ended up being Orange Blossom Candle Co.

James started the company in 2017, making custom candles out of premium ingredients. It brings a bit of Florida aroma to the craft candle industry. The sweet scent of the namesake candle recalls the orange elds for which the Sunshine State is known. Other scents range from the beachy Sanibel candle to the Bee Kind, with a hint of jasmine and wild honey. She’s branched out into soaps recently, too, made with a real sea sponge from Tarpon Springs. “I wanted it to be an iconic Florida brand,” James says.

The actual candle-making process includes a lot of trial and error. The perfect candle will smell good unlit and smell even better lit—and that’s a tricky combination to come by. James uses pure soy wax (no paraffin) and natural fragrance oils. The wicks are cotton, free from zinc or lead. Simply put, “Our goal was to make a better candle,” she says.

LIGHTING THE WAY: The candle-making process includes a lot of trial and error to create candles that smell good lit and unlit.

It caught on quickly. Orange Blossom Candles could be found in airport gift shops across the state, and boutique shops started carrying the brand. Then the pandemic hit. Airport shops were the first to shut down, then many of their small-store customers went out of business. They’ve had to build once again from the ground up over the last few months, but they’ve grown their online shop and are reestablishing their inventory in airports. A new location featuring a small shop in front opened recently in Bonita Springs. James plans on beginning candle-making classes and other events to bring in the public soon. “We’ve had to rebuild our sales,” she says, “but we’re coming back strong.”

Photo Credit: Kevin Bires

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