A Duluth business owner believes her products, which are now available in a new storefront, can bring some peace to people during challenging times.
Kyia Plummer's business, Naturalight Candles and Crafts, held its soft opening Thursday at its new West Duluth storefront. Located at 517 N. Central Ave., Naturalight specializes in all-natural candles. Scents range from eucalyptus mint, to blackberry vanilla, to teakwood and fern.
Plummer saw her online candle sales skyrocket when the pandemic began.
She attributes this to people spending more time in their homes and needing to bring comfort and relaxation into these spaces.
"I'm hopeful that people will be excited to come out and smell candles, and … bring those into their homes," she said. "If they can bring a little bit of relaxation or happiness or joy, then I think I've done my job well."
Navigating the storefront's opening has been a challenge, especially during a pandemic. It has required copious amounts of planning and coordination. However, she said, "to be honest, a lot of it is kind of winging it, too. … (I'm) navigating it slowly, one day at a time, to see what 2020 throws my way."
Her main challenge is the loss of in-person interaction with her products. To ensure people can smell her candles safely, she researched and implemented a number of safety precautions.
"I provide … a product that solely relies on using your nose to smell it and test it," she said.
And she's wary of the economy's future. People may choose to spend money on bills, food and family necessities before opting to buy a candle.
Plummer has been in the candle business for six years, selling her products at art shows across the state. But the coronavirus put an end to these shows and her source of income.
"I decided to kind of branch out and do something I've wanted to do for a while," she said.
She hopes the storefront houses more than just her candles. She aims to display her friends' art, such as hand-crafted jewelry, paintings and body care products.
The space also caters to her candle-making process. She will make the candles in the basement, instead of a downtown studio that houses several other artists. Eventually, she will bring some of the candle-making process to the sales floor — and will someday offer classes in the space.
Plummer's passion for natural candle-making arose after she learned many store-bought candles release "harsh" chemicals when burned. She wanted to make candles free of these chemicals and founded Naturalight.
The company's candles are made of soybeans from Southern Minnesota. The oils that cause the candles' scent are made of vegetable and essential oils.
Plummer does a high amount of scent testing and tries to offer a variety of scents. But she admitted that earthy ones like teakwood, pine and cedar are her favorite.
Candles in these scents and more can be found in her West Duluth storefront, on the corner of Central Avenue and Grand Avenue, which she found after hearing a friend's recommendation. She said the neighborhood has "a lot of potential."
Naturalight is open 10a.m.-5p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays, and 10a.m.-4p.m. on Saturdays.