BUSINESS BUZZ: Melting away the pandemic blues

Reed City woman discovers passion for candle-making during idle time

This article is part of Business Buzz, a series designed to feature small businesses that make a big impact on the community. Participants featured will include all the locally-owned businesses that make up the fabric of Osceola County and the surrounding area.

REED CITY — For more than two years, the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the lives of virtually every American.

Since the onset of the pandemic, countless stories have been written about the many hardships it has brought on, seemingly across the board.

Unexpected idle time can be a curse, just as much as it can be a blessing, but Karie Juengel’s story represents the latter in this situation.

Juengel used this idle time to figure out what, exactly, would spark her interest, so when everything was put on hold in March of ‘19, she felt it was the perfect time to see what the world of wax was all about.

“I wanted to find a hobby to fill the extra time I had working from home,” Juengel said. “I started doing research on different hobbies, and found that I really enjoyed making homemade candles. I just found it to be such a relaxing hobby.”

Juengel eventually became proficient in the art of candle-making after watching a series of how-to videos on YouTube.

She said she is thankful for the platform, and that she has since followed other candlemakers on their various social media pages.

“I’m grateful for their knowledge, and I think it’s cool to pick up on what other companies are doing and kind of make it your own,” Juengel said. “I love using antiques, instead of always pouring them into jars.”

Juengel started handing out examples of her work to her friends and family, which is where she soon got the idea to open up an online shop where she could begin selling her handmade candles.

“I was giving them away to practically anyone that wanted a candle, so it was just the encouragement of friends, family and co-workers that made me go ahead and open an online store,” Juengel said. “It wasn’t my intention to open a store, but I am so grateful that it’s happened; it’s a lot of fun.”

In late November, with the help of her daughter, the online store for Southern at Heart Candle Company was officially launched.

Juengel detailed the process required to properly create a candle that is ready to be sold.

“I melt the wax — you have to take it to a specific temperature, then you have to wait for it to cool down before you can add your fragrance and pour it into a specific antique,” Juegel said. “All in all, it takes about three hours to make a batch of candles, and you can make as big of a batch as you’d like.”  

Although her online store is still in its infancy, Juegnel expressed her desire to one day open her own storefront, where customers can pick out their own wax and fragrances to create their very own candles.

In addition to this, Juengel also said she’s had locals reach out to her in the hopes that she will, one day, start teaching candle-making classes to those interested, which she said she is open to down the road. 

The name, Southern at Heart, is a reference to Juengel’s upbringing in the state of Kentucky, and she claims to be a diehard University of Kentucky basketball fan.

Southern at Heart’s online store can be found at www.southernatheartcandleco.com