Some of the things that matter most to Shabi Monzavi are the hallmarks of her company: simplicity, quality, creativity, giving back — and, of course, food, wine, and the colour black make that list, too.
What started as a “crazy side hustle” has developed into a flourishing business that keeps the Newmarket resident — who also works full time in her family’s steel processing business — happily working around the clock.
“I love doing things, being busy, I always have to have something on the go,” said the owner and chief candle maker at Market Candle Company.
The business that she launched last summer, “well before candle season”, has grown steadily, capitalizing on the burgeoning consumer trend for organic, natural candles with scents — some atypical — that convey meaningful experiences and evoke specific emotions, according to the National Candle Association.
The gem of the idea for Market Candle Company came after she handmade her bridal party favours about two years ago.
“I hacked my way through it,” she said, doing research that included watching a DIY YouTube video. “And people were raving about them.”
Obviously, she had a “thing” for candles even before launching her business.
You’ll find the self-acknowledged “crafty and creative gal” in her basement workshop, which includes a large wax melter, and typically about 40 50-lb bags of soy wax. Though, there are candles and candle-making products throughout the house — “my poor husband is always tripping over something,” she added.
When she’s not at her full-time job or in the workshop, you’ll find her at a craft show booth at one of the many events across the GTA, or out hustling new retailers to carry her candles in their elegant black boxes.
“It’s very therapeutic,” she said, dismissing any suggestion her schedule is extremely busy.
She makes small batches of 10 hand-poured candles, allowing them to “cure” for up to two weeks.
Labels are also handmade, usually at night, and on weekends, she said.
It was important to Monzavi that the candles she creates be good for the mind, body and soul.
Market Candle Company products are free of “the junk and toxins” found in some of the big-brand candles, she said.
She said she uses higher-quality, eco-conscious products, including 100 per cent soy wax, quality fragrance oils, premium cotton wicks, reusable and recyclable containers and no dyes, and throws in a dose of pure love with every candle she makes.
Soy wax is created from soybean, a natural resource, which has lower carbon footprints. It has a high melting point, thus, burning slowly, which means the fragrance is held longer.
With a background in the restaurant industry — she also studied hospital management, and has a psychology major — she has an affinity for food scents, she acknowledged.
Perennially popular are Italian Spritz — her personal favourite, inspired by a cocktail, with its “citrus sage herby” scent — and Frosted Thyme Mint Vanilla, an “earthy cool sweet” fragrance.
There’s Morning Brew, Mimosa, Pinot noir, and Lemonade, too.
The winter collection includes warm spices, fresh pines, and cool mints.
Also popular is Calm, comprised of lavender, eucalyptus and vanilla, and Hygge, a blend of musky coconut, mahogany that appeals in particular to male consumers, or the “mandle community”, as Monzavi calls it.
She’s working on another more masculine scent to capitalize on this growing trend, and will be launching room sprays in the new year.
Her revenue is equally gained through retail sales, online and in-person at shows, she said.
Her candles are stocked in 10 retail outlets, and Monzavi is excited that Vince’s Market will be stocking her candles, and she credits co-owner Giancarlo Trimarchi’s wife as a fan of her candles.
“I'm a simple gal,” her website states. “I love food, wine and although my labels and branding are dark, I promise I have a cheery soul. I love a good belly laugh more than anyone you know. :) But you can bet your life I'm wearin' a black top whenever you see me.”
Because it’s a cause close to her heart, 50 cents from every candle sale goes to the Canadian Mental Health Association.
“I have a lot of family and friends who have suffered from mental health concerns and sadly I've lost a couple to the fight,” she said.
Her marketing is social media and word of mouth — she’s said she’s sincerely grateful for the support, so she often offers a discount code to people who share their enthusiasm for her candles among their social networks.
Making candles isn’t her first business venture, she said. She had an e-commerce gift box business, which she ultimately folded but learned some valuable lessons that have helped to make Market Candle Company successful.
“I love Newmarket,” enthuses Monzavi, who is originally from Hamilton, “and its friendly community.”
She lives close to Main Street and enjoys shopping and dining there.
When she’s dreaming about the future, she envisions a small storefront on Main, with a little nook in the back for her candle-making workshop.