Meet the Producer: Pioneer Candle

Not many people realize the amount of toxins we expose ourselves to on a daily basis. It’s almost impossible to completely cleanse yourself of all toxins, but you can most certainly control the amount of toxins within your home.

And that’s exactly what Sara Catlett did.

When Catlett, owner of Pioneer Candle, learned that her 12-month-old daughter was diagnosed with allergies and would have to take medication daily, she set out on a mission to live holistically…right down to the candles she burned at home. Her story was a huge an inspiration to us and we are thrilled to share it with all of you. Like Catlett, we encourage all of you to become educated about not only the foods you eat, but also the skin and home products you use. The more you know the more you can make the right decisions for you and your family.

Catlett’s story is below, as well as information about her candles and what we can expect to see in the future. We hope you enjoy reading her story as much as we did.

Pioneer Candle – 100 percent pure beeswax candles

MeetTheProducer_PioneerCandle_Feb16

How did you get into the candle-making business?

It all started after my one-year-old daughter was diagnosed with allergies and prescribed daily medication. At first, we obediently administered her daily dose, as advised, but inside something didn’t feel right. I questioned whether a healthy one-year-old child should be on medication everyday…I read and studied anything on the subject from blog posts, to articles in health magazines, to scientific studies and what I learned appalled me. The average American home contains an alarming amount of harmful chemicals and toxins. Surprisingly, these toxins were not only found in harsh chemical cleaners, but also in seemingly innocuous products like soap, shampoo, toothpaste, home fragrance sprays, and even in some of our furniture and cookware. What further distressed me, was that despite the extensive research and overwhelming data, proving these ingredients harmed health, corporations weren’t eradicating them from their products, nor was the government banning their use.

One day, my husband came home from work to find every “toxic” cleaner, household item or personal care product littering our counters and kitchen table. He paused for a moment and cautiously asked what was going on. I told him we could no longer use these items because they weren’t safe for us or our kids. I rattled off words like phthalates, sodium laureate sulfate, propylene glycol and the dreaded and mysterious toxic concoction labeled “fragrance.” There was silence and for a moment I thought he was going to balk, especially when he saw his shaving cream and deodorant among the ranks of offenders. To my surprise, he instead asked, “What do we replace this stuff with?” This question is what eventually led us to beeswax candles.

With the changes we made, the majority of our daughter’s symptoms dissipated. However, we still struggled to find healthy replacements for some of our favorite items, including my beloved candles. One day, while shopping on the Oklahoma Food Cooperative, I saw Honey Hill Farm selling large blocks of raw beeswax. Suddenly, I had an epiphany! Beeswax was completely natural and if I used a cotton wick, it would be safe for my family. With sustainability in mind, I decided to order the local beeswax and attempt to make them myself, instead of buying candles from elsewhere. This is where my adventures in candle-making began. Two years later, I decided to become a Producer with the cooperative to share my natural and safe beeswax candles with the rest of Oklahoma. Since then, it has morphed into a family business. My husband, and even our small children, enjoy helping out and being a part of the process in anyway they can. Nothing brings a smile to my face like spending Friday night making candles with my family and teaching my children about entrepreneurism, what it means to run a sustainable business and the value of a strong work ethic.

Which Pioneer Candle product is your personal favorite and why?

My favorite candles are the hand-dipped tapers. Most of my candles are made with a mold, but the hand-dipped tapers are completely created by hand. I especially like the wax drip at the base of the candle, it gives them so much character and charm! I like to hang them in rows in my kitchen and admire them while I’m cooking…sometimes the simplest things in life truly are the best!

What can we expect to see from Pioneer Candle in the future?

After many inquiries, I have decided to write a book on how to make beeswax candles. It seems there are many people interested in learning, but there isn’t much accurate instruction available. After four years of trial and error, I can confirm that much of the information online is imprecise or incorrect. Furthermore, the well-written candle books are geared toward paraffin or soy, not beeswax. Beeswax is a distinct type of wax, and it takes different techniques to produce a successful candle. I feel it is a noble goal to keep this art form alive and to pass it on to others. Therefore, I’m very eager to share and to see people enjoying candle-making as much as I have. I hope to offer the book for sale through the Co-op sometime within the next year. I am also considering the possibility of hosting candle-making classes, if there is enough interest.