*Note: Story originally published June 2012.
Lit Wick Gallery owner J.M. Tkalec says creating new fragrances takes "a little bit of science, a bit of good luck, a bit of good timing and a whole lot of insanity." But one thing is for sure: all this candles are made with love.
Tkalec, better known as the Candleman, started the candle company 10 years ago in Stow and recently made the move to Fairlawn's Merchant Square on Ghent Road. He's come a long way since his first scent of mulled cranberry.
Tkalec now offers scents such as roasted jalapeno, Bavarian pretzel, beer, bacon and tomato plant.
"I've always been a candle lover," Tkalec said. "I would find a brand and become loyal and then they would do something that would make me mad and I'd switch. I went through all the major companies and I wasn't happy."
So Tkalec made a list of all the things he wanted in a candle and took it to major candle companies to see if they could fit his needs. No one could, and Lit Wick was born.
"So I went to the library, and I started studying wax at the molecular level," Tkalec smiled. "I wanted a clean burn, a strong scent, long lasting, and I wanted people to be able to use the candle down to the last drop."
Another cool feature of Tkalec's candles is that the glass gets hotter than the wax. So you could pour it on yourself (if you're so inclined) and not get badly burned.
Each one of Tkalec's scents has a special meaning behind it. For example, the scent "Nuzzle," was made to remind him of the love of his life. It's a calming smell that Tkalec said took 10 years to perfect.
Another scent, "Tusk," was made for him for personal reasons, but caused someone else to burst into tears because it reminded her of her grandfather.
"I just love the creative outlet of this," Tkalec said. "Fragrances are so personal and I love watching people's reactions when they smell my candles."
Tkalec's candles can be purchased online, and he said he now ships to 10 countries.
But candles aren't the only things he sells: the Candleman also features local art in his gallery. He even features his own line of spa products, and the proceeds from each purchase benefit the cure for AIDS, breast cancer and a stop to animal cruelty.
"I always wanted to be a gallery owner, but I wanted to own a gallery that was fun," Tkalec said. "Most people when they go in art galleries, they feel looked down on. This isn't like that."
Tkalec features local photography, paintings, metal art, jewelry and more. And he's always looking for new artists to feature.
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