Built in the Blue Ridge: Beeswax Candle Company

LYNCHBURG (WSLS 10) - Americans have a love affair with candles, spending $3.2 billion each year to light up their homes.

A Lynchburg company makes candles with a unique twist.

Kathy Shaw started her business, Beeswax Candle Company, in the kitchen of her home 13 years ago, moving into a gallery and studio in downtown Lynchburg as demand grew.

“We went from being a one-person operation, now we have a number of employees,” said company president Kathy Shaw.  “I've never hired a stranger. Everyone who works for me I knew as a friend or through my children before I hired them.”

She works with friends to produce candles that burn cleaner than your typical candle, which is made of paraffin wax.

“Beeswax is different because it's a clean-burning wax, so when you burn beeswax, you don't end up with smoke and soot on your walls, and the other nice feature is if you or anyone else in your family have allergies or asthma, burning beeswax candles generally will not cause a reaction because we don’t add any perfume,” Shaw said.

Making the candles is a totally artisan process.  They take big blocks of wax and melt it down.  Then, they hand pour the candles that you can buy in the store.

Those candles are made with wax from the U.S. and Canada, which ensures that it burns cleaner.

“If you import wax from overseas, unfortunately it is often cut with non-beeswax elements and that will not give you a clean-burning candle,” said Shaw.

The company has received publicity in the New York Times, Martha Stewart Living Magazine and on National Public Radio, but its biggest exposure is through the internet.

“The internet has allowed us to reach customers not just all over the country, but all over the world,” said Shaw.  “We have shipped our candles to China, to Scotland, to Japan, to a myriad of other countries, but a lot of our shipping is in the U.S.”

To display your candles, the company's gallery offers candle holders and stands.

The pieces are found by attending shows and talking to artists.

According to the National Candle Association, 35 percent of candle sales in the U.S. will happen between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

The company will soon introduce a luxury line of candles that you can find online or in their store.

They also hope to expand their partnership with more stores and galleries across the country.