Operating an independent business is a journey, and no two paths are the same. We welcome you to meet the folks behind some of our favorite businesses as they share their stories, the fuel behind their craft, and the passion that keeps them making.
This month, we are so excited to introduce you to Katie Oldaker and Oh! Candles!
About Oh! Candles:
Q: Tell us about how Oh! Candles came to be.
A: I don’t know when exactly I became obsessed with candles, but I jokingly tell people that in 2014 after I was laid off from a job, I spent my whole severance pay on candles and that’s only like 25% a lie. At Handmade Arcade 2015, I accosted Amanda of North Ave Candles and asked if she’d ever take on an apprentice and she said yes! We’ve basically been best friends since that moment and she is still my candle mentor and business idea polisher. I basically decided to start making scents that I wanted to smell – the scent of your clothes after a bonfire, the smell of the ocean through fresh greenery – and went from there.
Oh! Candles’ name comes from mine: everyone has called me Katie Oh! for years and it just seemed like a perfect name for something that was going to rely heavily on my personality for its branding! My line has continued to evolve over the past five years and, while I’ve taken mental health breaks here and there, my sales have consistently grown year over year, which still wows me, as a person who has previously had terrible follow-through with projects.
Q: What does a typical day or week look like to you?
A: I work a full-time day job, so I only occasionally get a full weekend day to devote to candles, sadly! I usually start by filling open orders or, if I’m prepping for an event, making a long to-do list of scents to pour. I tend to do a lot of things pretty piecemeal otherwise – maybe one night I’ll write copy for a social media post, or I’ll brainstorm a new scent name, or I’ll plan a new promotion. I tend to get bursts of creativity here and there and I like to focus on just one thing at a time to not get myself too overwhelmed!
Q: Is there any interesting trivia or a fun fact behind your brand you’d like to share?
A: I’m the official candlemaker for Millie’s! I was delighted to be asked to do scents inspired by some of their flavors and it’s one of the coolest projects I’ve had the pleasure of working on so far. A few people have messaged me to say that the London Fog scent is their favorite candle scent, which is surreal and amazing.
Q: Can you divulge your secret to staying energized and inspired?
A: To be honest, this is something I’ve struggled with! I think I get most of my energy from interactions with other makers – I’ll reach out to someone with a seed of an idea and we bounce thoughts back and forth til it blooms and I’m ready to get started.
Q: What’s your advice for overcoming challenges in the independent biz space? Is there any advice you’d give your younger self starting out?
A: Honestly, ask questions of anyone in the maker space who you admire! Most makers are so so kind and open, it never hurts to ask for their tips or what they think of an idea or an event. My advice to my younger self would be to not go overboard right away! I used to make a hundred candles for an event and I’d end up selling maybe thirty or forty. I could have saved myself a lot of time and stress by not demanding so much of myself when I was still a really small upstart!
Q: What do you feel sets you apart in the independent biz/maker space?
A: I think I have one of the most fanciful and whimsical aesthetics in the area! I try to not take myself too seriously and let the silliness in sometimes. I’m still just a goofy girl making puns and doing this mostly for the fun of it!
Q: We love all of your fun scents and their names (especially Breakfast of Champions 🙂 )—what’s the story behind creating them all?
A: I say my line is inspired by the magic in the every day and I think most of them fit into that! With Breakfast of Champions, who amongst us hasn’t had cookies with their morning coffee and thought “yes, this is an excellent life choice” to themself? I have another candle, First Date, that’s cinnamon chai and tobacco, and I had this vision of a really lovely coffee shop date and a shared cigarette outside, that sort of warm promise of meeting someone new. (I’ve had a lot of people tell me their personal First Date candle involves more tequila than that, ha!) I think of myself as trying to capture moments or feelings with scents, so I lean into creating a narrative around them. I am a creative writer by trade and I think that comes through in a lot of my product descriptions and product names!
About Katie – and, go!
Q: What’s your go-to coffee and/or tea order?
A: large iced chai latte, sometimes with the addition of caramel or coconut flavor. I also love seasonal coffee drinks of any kind!
Q: Markets or Online Shop?
A: Online Shop
Q: While working/making: Podcasts, Playlists, or Streaming?
Q: Early Bird or Night Owl?
A: Both, honestly! Which probably does not say anything good about my sleep schedule, but it’s true!
Q: Instagram or TikTok?
A: Instagram, if only because I feel too old to learn how to make TikToks!
Q: Summer Markets or Holiday Markets?
A: Holiday markets
Support Oh! Candles:
Where to follow Oh! Candles:
I’ll be vending at the Queer Craft Market (which I’m also co-organizing with my friend Jeffrey!) on June 27th next, and I usually try to do 1-2 events a month starting in September. I always post these on Instagram and Facebook, so if you follow me there, you’ll be the first to know where I’ll be!
If you’re looking for unique, interesting scents at a really reasonable price, I’m your girl! Also, check out my Instagram for a set of discount codes I’m running for Pride month – as a queer maker, I’m trying to make my candles accessible to everyone!
Are you a maker or small business owner interested in being featured in a future maker story? Contact us!