February 24, 2024

Madison Carey with one of her rose-scented candles. (Kate Barcellos)
Carey’s display inside Flowers by Debbie in Swanton. (Kate Barcellos)
One of Carey’s lavender candles. (Kate Barcellos)
Madison Carey and her mother, Jenny Bessette. (Kate Barcellos)
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Madison Carey with one of her rose-scented candles. (Kate Barcellos)
SWANTON — Rather than wax poetic about the romantic nature of her budding business, 16-year old entrepreneur Madison Carey likes to talk business.
Candle business.
“If I’m going to sell something, I’m going to make sure I’m okay with the quality [of my product],” Carey said. “And I’ve always wanted something of my own, something to be proud of.”
Her mother, Jenny Bessette, owns Jenny’s Barn and Flowers by Debbie, and she passed the entrepreneurial itch down to her daughter. The two were brainstorming together during a softball tournament this fall when Carey said the idea came to her.
“We were trying to figure out another business we could add,” Carey said. “And it just popped into my head. Why not try candles?”
An aspiring aesthetician, Carey’s experience with face waxing products naturally lent itself to the melting of organic soy wax granules with oils into molds. Since launching its first seasonal lines, Madison Candles has been met with tremendous success due to social media, and the experimental production now has a growing list of satisfied customers.
Carey’s display inside Flowers by Debbie in Swanton. (Kate Barcellos)
“We were both really surprised,” Carey said. “My mom would take pictures of the ones that sold and bring them home everyday, and we kept having to make more.”
A digital native, Carey began her business by scouring the internet for inspiration to create in-demand and fashionable candles.
She used Pinterest, Instagram and Google images for popular looks and home decor, and found a series of “dough bowls” whose wooden exterior was stressed to resemble country barn wood. The material proved to be far more forgiving when filled with hot wax than glass was, so Carey designed her candles to be larger statement pieces with multiple wicks for a subtle over-the-top look.
While balancing her studies at Bellows Free Academy-St. Albans, Carey can be found in the evenings after school melting, pouring, mixing, ordering and designing new inventory. Her family helps, but she is largely a one-woman show, often working into the twilight hours to complete orders.
Her creations are almost fairy-like. Shaped in hearts and small, rustic boxes, the candles are feathery white with lavender branches hovering at the pearly surface, or with curled, dried rose petals sprinkled like leaves on a pond. The rustic charm evokes images of country weddings or secret gardens, and each has a formidable yet pleasant smell.
Carey said the range of scents that she uses tend to be ones that she enjoys, and wildberry is her best seller overall.
One of Carey’s lavender candles. (Kate Barcellos)
“I change the offerings with the seasons,” Carey said. “Around the holidays I use scents like pine.”
Carey had a dream of owning her own car once she got her license and is now paying off her white Jeep Wrangler, which is often seen parked outside of Flowers by Debbie. She bought it when she was 15.
The money from her candle business, combined with what she’s earned working events for her family’s business, The Abbey, is both helping with her financial management skills and teaching her responsible business practices.
An aspiring medical aesthetician with an eye for beauty and deep ambition, Carey dreams of one day becoming the Chief Executive Officer of her own company and said she wants to “be big.”
“A lot of people I know own businesses, my family owns businesses, and I’ve always wanted my own business,” Carey said. “And I’m not talking just one little store … maybe multiple businesses.”
Madison Carey and her mother, Jenny Bessette. (Kate Barcellos)
Based on her designs alone, she’s off to a great start: Carey started posting photographs of her creations available through the Flowers by Debbie Facebook page. In the store, Carey has her own display case with several shelves of candles, along with a picture and short bio of her as the maker.
What began as a test product quickly became a highly sought-after item, and since launching her brand this winter, Carey has sold hundreds of candles. Suddenly, commenters began requesting orders through the comments and direct messages, and the business began to blow up.
During Valentine’s Day week, she made $1,300 on candles alone through the shop. Her candles range from around $20 to $30, depending on the size and shape. She’s set her price point based on the quality of the materials she uses and the quality of service performed for her customers.
She works hard and sacrifices sleep sometimes, but the customer always comes first.
“She’s taken over our kitchen,” Bessette said. “The business has just gone crazy.”
Written By
Kate Barcellos is a staff reporter for the Saint Albans Messenger. Contact her at kbarcellos@orourkemediagroup.com
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