Scentsational Soy Candles from June + Rose Candle Co.

Headwaters native Melissa Lester is the heart and the hands behind June + Rose Candle Co.

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There is nothing like a scented candle to warm your home and the cockles of your heart—especially now that we’re coming up to the holidays. If you want the best for your home, your health, and your loved ones, you can expect it with a hand-crafted soy candle from June + Rose Candle Co. in Caledon. With up to 25 retail locations in the Headwaters region and beyond (to as far as British Columbia even!), as well as a robust online shopping platform, these clean-burning, chemical-free candles will be a favourite feature of domestic bliss in your home no matter what the season.

Candle with Food

Headwaters native Melissa Lester is the heart and the hands behind June + Rose Candle Co. “When I was young, my mom always burned candles,” she explains. “I grew up with that kind of ambience.” Originally, she graduated from the International Academy of Design with a degree in fashion marketing, and in 2012, she opened her own retail store in Caledon East called Bloom Fashion Boutique. Naturally, one of the items she began buying to sell in her store was candles. But when she began looking into the ingredients that are in many mass-manufactured candles, she became concerned about the adverse health impacts that burning these synthetic ingredients may cause. As an alternative, she took it upon herself to begin making her own candles to sell at the store.

June + Rose Candle Co.

“They really took off,” she states enthusiastically. “I mean, a lot of people are doing candles now, but back in 2012, it was hard to find a clean-burning candle. When I started offering them, people were telling me that this was exactly what they were looking for.” She took this wildly popular venture on the road and began attending local markets with her candles. Her side business was eventually so successful that, in 2018, she decided to close her retail shop and go full-time with June +  Rose Candle Co.

Today, June + Rose operates as an online store, and Melissa has a home studio which, in pre-covid times, people were able to visit and shop. “Hopefully I can open it back up again in post-covid times,” she says. “I also used to hold candle making parties for groups, and I’m hoping to start that up again, too.”

Sweet Fig

Soy, if you didn’t know, is considered the cleanest-burning wax product available commercially.

Candles at June + Rose are 100% soy wax. They contain no paraffin, and also no parabens or phthalates, which are often associated with the headaches some people experience when they’re confronted by strongly-scented synthetic candles. “All the ingredients in my candles are chemical free,” Melissa states proudly.

Now, at this point you’re probably thinking: “But I see soy candles all over the place at the mall. Why is June + Rose any different?” As Melissa Lester explains, the issue with many mass-marketed soy candles is that they’re frequently of a type that’s known as a soy blend. “That probably means they’re mixed with paraffin and other synthetic ingredients which may cause a whole host of health problems,” she says. “And what a lot of people don’t know is that many candles contain lead wicks.” June + Rose’s wicks, in contrast, are 100% cotton. It means you will need to trim the wick each time you light it, but the trade-off for this small extra step is that you are not burning lead which might then be breathed in.

June and Rose Candle

Furthermore, the fragrance oils Melissa uses in her candles are fine fragrance, perfume-grade oils. This, she explains, is different from essential oils which, if used in too-great quantities, may also be unsafe. “An ounce of essential oil can cost around $30,” she says. “Well, there’s almost an ounce of oil in each one of my eight-ounce candles. So, when you see all these big companies saying that they use essential oils, they’re probably only dropping one or two drops into a chemical-filled candle to be able to legally write ‘Essential Oil’ on the label.”

Melissa is proud of the scents that she creates—all of them unique and original. “You’re not going to get a vanilla or a lavender or anything like that,” she says. Take, for example, one of her most popular scents: Sunday Morning. This scent is a blend of grapefruit, dill, black raspberry, vanilla and clove, and was named so because it reminded Melissa of shopping at a farmer’s market on a Sunday morning. This was the first scent she ever went into production with and is today her top seller. June + Rose’s fall scents are available online now, and five new winter scents will be released soon.

When she started June + Rose, Melissa Lester did not expect it to become as big as it has, nor did she expect it to continue to grow, even during these times of COVID-19. “I love it,” she states. “When I closed my retail store, I had two young boys. They were two and three at the time. I wanted to spend more time with my family and do something at home where I could be there to get them to and from school. The ties to the retail were not really what I was looking for, so I was extremely happy when this took off the way it did.”

And like a true maker, Melissa finds a fulfilling sense of joy in the happiness she is able to bring to others through her work. She has many stories of her candles evoking a fond memory in her customers. “There was one scent that I had done in the summertime,” she recalls. “It was very gardenia heavy, and one of my customers found that it brought her right back to the smell of her late grandmother. So, for Christmas, she’s buying all her cousins, brothers and sisters this candle for that reason.”

“Doing things like that makes me happy,” she adds. “Scents just take you back to some wonderful memories. I love to invoke that in people—especially when it’s cold and rainy. There’s nothing better than lighting a candle when the weather is miserable and being comforted by the soft light and the soft scent.”

As a final tribute to warmth and sentimentality, you’re going to love the story of how the name June + Rose was chosen. “My parents, my husband and I, we were both married on June 11—different years obviously,” Melissa says. “Our first son Colby was born on June 11, and we found out about our second son, Connor, on June 11 a few years later. And then Rose was the name of my late grandmother. It all ties back to something that matters for me, a connection that means something.”

June and Rose Bag

Melissa Lester invites you to find that connection within yourself with her hand-crafted, natural soy candles at June + Rose Candle Co. Visit her online at www.juneandrosecandleco.com to shop, or to find a retail location near you.

YDH Locations:

  • The Noodle Gallery
  • SG Flowers
  • Flawless Studio
  • Wicked Shortbread
  • Granny Taught Us How
  • Hockley Valley Resort
  • Heatherlea Farms
  • Adamo Estate Winery
  • Hockley Valley General Store
  • Davis Feed Farm
  • Rock Garden Farms
  • Gourmandissimo
  • Cellar Door
  • The Birch Shop
  • Esperanto Gallery & Studios Inc.
  • Hidden Serenity Spa

Story by Katherine Ryalen

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