Sometime during March of 2017, my younger brother offered to help take control of my finances. I say “control” because my grip on them is somewhere between loose and nonexistent; I am utterly terrible with money. Almost infamously so, and despite working in the highest-paying role of my career at the time, an unnecessary amount of credit card debt was piling up, while my savings account remained firmly at zero. It was time, my brother said, for me to adopt a budget (shudder).
He works in finance professionally, doing consulting and investing for other clients with far more resources than me, so I agreed to the audit. As he went through my monthly budget, one line item immediately stood out to him in my recent spending: It was a $100 entry, billed somewhere in Brooklyn. Why was I spending $100 in my old neighborhood?
The fairly frequent entry was at a little shop called Good Candle. In my defense, buying in bulk qualified me for free shipping! “You’re literally burning money,” he deadpanned, and the anecdote became another hilarious entry into the family’s personal mythology of my money management skills. I can laugh along with them, but the truth is, I still think the expense is worth it.
Good Candle was one of the products that inspired me to start this magazine, and even helped shape the way I set it up. The “Thing” column is directly correlated to several different things that had become part of my own care practices, things that I was constantly telling friends and family about, buying as gifts, and otherwise getting compliments on.
Good Candle’s 1lb Mason Jar candles retail at $39 for a single unit, but the price goes down significantly when you buy in bulk, or factor in sales. If you buy four candles, it’s around $100 (my standard spend), and it gets even cheaper if you’re going upwards of eight, or if it’s around Christmas or another major holiday when sales abound. Besides, a 1lb candle burns for up to 50 hours, so even if you pay full price, you’re still paying less than a dollar an hour for comforting light, a beautiful smell, and a little ambience.
I first discovered Good Candles one very hungover morning in Brooklyn, when my penchant for overpriced brunches and wandering Williamsburg alone led me to a cozy little faux-French spot called Cafe Collette. Barely slurping down a Bloody Mary and trying to stomach a Chicory & Fried Chicken salad, I headed to the bathroom at one point, unsure if I was going to be sick or not.
Once I was safely inside that chic little nook (love a NYC bathroom), sitting on the floor before the toilet, I noticed a flickering flame releasing an unexpectedly delicious smell that seemed to help calm my stomach. I checked the tag, saw it was a Good Candle in the scent “mimosa,” paid my check, and headed home to purchase one for myself. Hair of the dog didn’t work, but this bright, citrusy candle lit up my room the rest of that month and beyond.
Probably just a happy coincidence, my first experience with these candles was so fortuitous that I’ve maintained a loyalty them ever since. When I’m feeling particularly sad, depressed, rejected, shameful, or terribly hungover, I light one and let the candle’s placebo medicinal effect begin. Because of my emotional connection, it took me a bit longer to do any research about the company itself, but their story is also a cool one.
Founded in Brooklyn in 2012 by Johnathan Kroeger, who began making the candles on his stovetop, his landlord none the wiser, the company now operates in a proper studio, delivering candles locally by bike, and collaborating with a non-profit once a month on specific editions, and regularly donating sales of their scratched and dented products. They’re hand-poured in Crown Heights with American soy wax, and the wicks are made of braided cotton.
Aside from mimosa — which remains my favorite scent — they offer everything from the usual suspects like sandalwood and cedar to more unusual options like americano, campfire, and rose. None of them are cloying or overwrought, but all of them actually smell, something plenty of scented candles I’ve bought in the past fail to do. My sister swears by the clean, soapy washboard scent, (which I bought for her birthday), and my brother, the bartender, got a whiskey-scented 1lb jar this past Christmas.
Given my current status as a contributing writer, freelancer, and unpaid entrepreneur, I probably shouldn’t be re-upping my candle order when the most recent last batch burns out over the summer — but I already know at some point this year, I still will. And for those looking for gifts, an easy pick-me-up, or something to brighten your home, these 1lb jars remain my favorite candles. No matter how far away I am from Brooklyn, I’ll continue shipping Good Candles to my Echo Park home or whenever else in the world I might be. Because a candle that can cure a hangover is truly something good.
Shop the candles for yourself here.