The Milk Jar Story
Meet Milk Jar.
Milk Jar Candle Co. first began from the desire to create a clean burning soy candle after Holly, the owner and creator of Milk Jar, learned about the dangers of burning paraffin wax. Paraffin wax, found in most candles that are sold, is a petroleum by-product containing harsh chemicals and carcinogens. When burned it produces soot in the air, making it unsafe for your family and pets to breathe in. Holly sought after soy wax candles but found it challenging to find a locally made and clean burning candle at a good price point.
Three and a half years ago, Holly began experimenting and making candles for herself. She created small batches of 8 candles at a time and often gave them away to friends. There was no thought of starting a candle company until a friend who worked at Kit and Ace, who often received Holly’s candles, reached out in the Spring of 2016. The forest fires had just hit Fort McMurray and Kit and Ace was hosting a pop-up shop for local makers to sell their craft to raise money for the victims affected by the fires. Holly loved the idea of using her candles to raise money for a cause. Although she wasn’t able to be a part of the Kit & Ace relief fundraiser, that was the moment that sparked Holly’s idea of a candle company that gives back… and seven months later Milk Jar Candle Co. was born!
Milk Jar started out with 6 scents in a 9 oz heavy base jar with a wood wick, a fragrance oil blend and soy wax. They are always striving to improve their craft and their products have continued to evolve. In the last two years, Milk Jar has continued to test 10 different soy waxes and over 30 wood wicks to produce the perfect candle with a beautiful consistent burn and scent throw.
Milk Jar has grown to 14 original scents which includes a more natural line, scented with plant-based essential oils. In addition, they have created over 40 custom milk jars for weddings, client gifts and in collaboration with Canadian companies. You can now find your milk jar in a 10 oz glass without the heavy base, which produces a longer burn time (50-60 hours). The wood wick is double ply for extra crackle and burn consistency, and their current soy wax contains one of the highest fragrance loads you can find, which scents any space beautifully.
It’s important for Milk Jar to give back to the community, which was the driving force behind the creation of this local candle company. They do this by donating $1 from each candle to a different local not-for-profit every year that supports youth with special needs. Last year they partnered with CADS, the Canadian Association for Disabled Skiing, and reached their goal of $2,000. This donation went towards helping to pay for new sit-ski equipment and memberships. They have also raised $536 for the Sheldon Kennedy Child Advocacy Centre through the BREATHE IT ALL IN collaboration with Lululemon in December 2017.
This year they have partnered with Between Friends, a foundation that provides social, recreational and developmental programs for individuals of all ages and abilities to feel connected and grow. They are so excited to have already surpassed their goal of raising $6,000 for the year!
It is their passion to continue to share the Milk Jar love and they do this by providing comfort with their candles, highlighting local businesses, and raising money for charitable organizations.
“The perfect career/life path is not about waking up happy every single day, doing what you’re doing... It’s about waking up and finding purpose in what you do, every single day.” -holly
Holly, the creator of Milk Jar Candle Co., is originally from Victoria B.C. but has called Calgary home for the last 10 years. Pursuing a degree at the University of Calgary in Kinesiology is what brought her to this city but it was the up and coming scene of creators, makers, artists and entrepreneurs that kept her here after graduating in 2012. “Calgary today is not the same Calgary it was when I first moved here!” Holly exclaims. “It is the city that has so much more to offer than the ‘oil and gas’ stereotype we are so used to hearing. Calgary has been forced to adapt and have we ever. We are a community of driven, resilient and supportive people that are embracing a diverse culture of small business and entrepreneurship. What I see more in Calgary than in any other city with an established maker world, is that Calgarians are incredibly supportive and place an importance on building up and highlighting one another. Our competitors are our allies and we know that when we support each other, we all do well.”
Upon completion of her degree, Holly worked in several areas with special needs children and youth. Four years after graduation, Holly made the decision to go back to school for Nursing at the U of C with the goal of continuing to work with special needs communities.
Milk Jar Candle Co. was launched just two months before school began, on November 19, 2016. Within the first month of launching Milk Jar, Holly collaborated with her first business, which was Lululemon. The collaboration was a holiday themed candle called “The Air Out There” that was sold at the 4th street Lululemon location in Calgary for the month of December.
A couple months into the new year and into Nursing school, Holly brought Milk Jar to their first official weekend market, Valentine’s Day Market Collective. Milk Jar sold out of 260 candles! That was the first moment Holly thought Milk Jar could be more than just a hobby, it could be a career she’s passionate about.
After completing her first semester of Nursing, Holly requested to have a year off school to focus on Milk Jar full time to see exactly where this little passion project could go.
Today, almost two years after officially launching, Holly is proud to say she did not go back to school but has pushed Milk Jar to be a full-time job and a household name in Calgary. You can find Milk Jar in over 30 stores across Canada, in retailers spreading from Whitehorse all the way to Halifax. Holly has also collaborated with over 20 businesses to create custom Milk Jar candles. It is this constant creativity and connection to the Calgary community that Holly says she enjoys the most about running a candle company.
When she’s not crafting candles you can find her living life to the fullest, which any of her friends can attest to! Just mention a music festival, a camping trip, a weekend in the mountains or a community event… You can bet that Holly will be there!
In a short amount of time Holly has become a strong, caring and driven entrepreneur that many in this city look up to. We can’t wait to see what the future holds for Holly and Milk Jar Candle Co.
Written by Zandra