Madison Renuart’s Scents of Love candle company is making a difference one candle at a time
“I keep telling my mom that if she’s going to burn my candles she’s going to have to start paying for them,” Maddy said. After all, Scents of Love is not a hobby, but a business with a serious mission.
Madison Renuart is a unique young lady. It is unusual to find a combination of compassion, industry, and love of her community in one so young.
But Maddy is all of those things. At 13 years old, she has built her business, Scents of Love Candle Company, in the last year. Selling her homemade soy candles at local craft fairs and online, Maddy donates ten percent of the sale of each candle to local nonprofits in our community. Right now, she has one line of candles, Scents of Compassion, whose profits go to Washington Area Animal Adoption Group (WAAAG), and another line, Scents of Giving, whose profits go to the Haymarket Regional Food Pantry. Why two separate lines, and separate donations? “I really liked WAAAG, the way they took care of the dogs. And Miss Jenny from WAAAG was really helpful. But I liked what the Food Pantry was doing for the community too. I couldn’t decide. So I just did both,” Maddy said.
As a young girl who suffers from anxiety and ADHD, Maddy always found that burning scented candles helped her calm down and soothed her. When a friend invited her to the Young Entrepreneurs Business Fair last year, she was excited to go. But she didn’t have a business yet. Going with her love of candles, she looked into starting a business by making all natural scented soy candles.
Maddy knew from the start that she wanted her candles to be all natural. “Other candles, they have all these different ingredients that you can’t name, and I always think, ‘if you can’t pronounce it, it’s probably not good for you.’ I wanted to make something 100 percent natural and good for the environment that people can enjoy.”
After quite a lot of online research, instruction videos, and a lot of plain, old practice, she was on her way. There was a lot of trial and error, her mother Carrie said. “We learned a lot of ways not to make candles.”
She made a big splash at the Young Entrepreneurs Business Fair with her first line, Scents of Compassion. This line is all named in a pet theme, after their dog Brody. The candles are named things like Bubba’s Biscuits, Catnip, and Paw Prints. Not surprisingly, the donations from this line go to WAAAG.
The candles are all made in the Renuart’s kitchen, where Maddy takes over when she has a big event coming up. “Usually I’ll have music playing in the background and I’ll have my pajamas on, and I’ll have all four burners on the stove going,” she said.
The process is not hard, but it is exacting. After measuring and melting the soy wax to a certain temperature, the oil scent is added and stirred. The jar is prepared by inserting the wick, and the candle is poured. It’s a repetitive process, but Maddy doesn’t mind. “From start to finish, it takes about one hour per batch. Then they have to cool for 24 hours. It’s a little stressful, but at the end of the day it’s all worth it because I know I’m doing something good. I enjoy doing it.” The worst part? “Cleaning all this up is excruciating. Spilled oil or wax are both really hard to get off the countertop. If I don’t get all the spilled oil off, the house smells for days.”
But it’s not all about making the candles. “The whole point of this is for her to learn the business,” Carrie said. Scents of Love is not just a hobby for Maddy. Right now, her mom, Carrie, acts as CFO and her dad acts as Operations Manager while Maddy makes the candles. Carrie’s already teaching Maddy how the business side works, and how to manage the money that comes in. They analyze the cost of the materials, and Maddy’s time and measure it against sales to determine profits and donation amounts. Although her parents fronted the money to start the business, Carrie said, “She’s paid us back everything, all the expenses.”
Carrie said, “Another part of what I love about this project was getting Maddy to speak more, to be more outgoing. She gets nervous sometimes, and getting out there and selling the candles and talking to customers has really helped her self confidence. She gave the presentation of the check to the board of the Haymarket Food Pantry by herself, and when she gave the check presentation to WAAAG she did a Facebook Live. It is so good for her, talking to people about what she likes to do.”
Maddy’s recent donations were $500 to WAAAG and $400 to the Haymarket Regional Food Pantry. At the retail price of $12 per candle, that’s a lot of candles! Carrie estimated that Maddy’s sold about 800 candles since starting in June of last year.
The company being well in the black, Maddy has also made some money for herself. She saves some and spends some, for instance on her iPhone 11.
When she’s not making candles, the Auburn Middle School student can oftentimes be found on stage or performing. She’s active in School of Rock, where she plays electric guitar. She likes to sing and dance and loves musical theatre. Then there’s the Girl Scouts. “But mostly in my free time, I play with my dogs,” she said.
She intends to continue to grow Scents of Love, but at her own pace. Carrie said, “I told her that she started this because candles relax her, so if it gets too big and starts to stress her out, it’s not worth it.”
Maddy said, ”I love this, I want to keep doing it. First of all, I know that I love it, and second, I’m making a difference in my community, and that’s one of the biggest things I want to do. That’s my goal in life. I’m taking it one step at a time.”
Her mother continues to point out to her, “Even what you’ve done so far is an accomplishment. People think that they can’t make a difference in their communities. This was your idea, you raised $900 by yourself. You’re already making a difference.’”