Adding some local flair to the candles burning in homes throughout the coastal Carolinas was the mission of CaroLuna Candleworks founders Kate Struntz and Brooks Inglese. The two sisters, both mothers, collaborated to create locally made and eco-friendly candles at the beginning of 2014 and just began selling them in November.
Struntz produces the candles from her Wrightsville Beach home while her sister does the same from her Folly Beach home.
“We started at the beginning of the year but for the first few months we were experimenting with the formulas and we just started selling the candles a month ago. I had a baby in the middle of all that,” Struntz said. “My sister and I were trying to think of some kind of business we could do together that would be fun and creative. We love good candles and in my opinion you can never have too many good candles.”
Each CaroLuna candle is made from a blend of soy wax, essential oils and fragrance. Instead of buying the candle vessel, Struntz and Inglese use wine bottles recycled from local restaurants.
“Initially we were just using our own wine bottles and my son and I would actually go to the recycling bin and dig for bottles,” Struntz said. “He thought it was the best thing.”
Now, in addition to using the wine bottles friends and family give them, Struntz and Inglese receive a steady flow of bottles from local restaurants like Taste the Olive Market and Café.
With the twist of using recycled wine bottles, producing the candles is not as easy as simply pouring wax into a container, but Struntz said the extra work is worth it.
“We have to soak it to remove the label, cut the wine bottles with a wet tile saw, sand them, clean them and then we make the wax and decorate them,” she said. “We are getting more efficient as we do it but it certainly would be easier to buy a Mason jar. I just think the idea of repurposing the wine bottles is so cool and it is nice to give them new life.”
The decorations for the candles are also locally sourced in the form of seashells collected from Wrightsville and Folly beaches.
Struntz said CaroLuna now has around 12 fragrances and the demand for their candles has been strong. Most of their business is generated through word of mouth but CaroLuna also has inventory in Sweetwater Surf Shop and will be adding a couple smaller retail outlets around Wrightsville Beach and Wilmington in 2015.
“The response has been so amazing and people want us to ship the candles. We are constantly getting Facebook messages,” Struntz said. “We wanted to produce a high-quality, eco-friendly candle … and my sister and I said the worst case scenario would be we have a lot of nice candles around.”
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