Dre James, owner of Victoria Candle Co. works on candle orders in his apartment Feb. 21, 2021, in Carbondale Ill. – “Every month my customer basis is increasing so I’m obviously doing something right,” James said. He started his business in 2019 after having a dream about pouring candle wax. – “I just joined the Carbondale Chamber of Commerce and the president ordered a candle, so I just got done making his,” James said. (Leah Sutton | @leahsuttonphotography)
Dre James, owner of Victoria Candle Co. works on candle orders in his apartment Feb. 21, 2021, in Carbondale Ill. – “Every month my customer basis is increasing so I’m obviously doing something right,” James said. He started his business in 2019 after having a dream about pouring candle wax. – “I just joined the Carbondale Chamber of Commerce and the president ordered a candle, so I just got done making his,” James said.

Leah Sutton | @leahsuttonphotography

Victoria Candle Co.: An entrepreneur’s dream of wax becomes a reality

February 26, 2021

Dre James, 24, is a Black, entrepreneur from Chicago Illinois who had a dream that led him to starting his own candle company in southern Illinois.

James attended SIU three years ago for mortuary science and later decided to try teaching elementary age children. Before candles, James tried to start a line of men’s accessories and an obituary writing business.

In September 2019, James realized these businesses weren’t going as planned and decided to try something new.

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“I was thinking, ‘Lord what is it I can do that I can interact with people, have fun while I’m doing it, and make money.’ I kid you not, I went to sleep, and I had a dream that night. At three o’clock in the morning, I woke up and just started writing everything down. I had a dream that I was pouring wax into a jar,” James said.

 The next day, James started to make his dream a reality. 

“The first candles I made, I went to Dollar Tree and bought the candles that were already made and remelted them and it didn’t turn out too well. So that’s when I really started to research candle making,” James said.

James wanted to find a way to honor his grandmother for raising him.

 “She pretty much raised me to be the man I am today,” James said. “I just wanted to add something with her name on it that would push me to the spirit of excellence just because I know that it is attached to my grandmother.”

 James decided to use her middle name, Victoria, in his company name.

 James said he is currently working two other jobs and making candles in his free time, but that his goal is to eventually move Victoria Candle Co. into a permanent storefront location.

 “Every month my customer basis is increasing so I’m obviously doing something right,” James said. He said he is gaining more clients through word of mouth.

 James said all candles by Victoria Candle Co. are natural and feature wax sourced from an American company. He also customizes scents based on the needs of the client. In some cases, people like the colors of the wax and order unscented candles.

 “I will order all of the fragrances, but some I will mix because I have some customers that will like lavender and eucalyptus, but usually, eucalyptus is paired with peppermint, but they don’t like peppermint,” James said.

 James said presentation is everything and chooses to use vessels customers can reuse after the candle has been used.

 “At the end of the day, my goal is to not just sell you a product but to provide you with an experience,” James said.

 In addition to candles, James makes wax cubes for candle warmers and is working on a candle that turns into massage oil as it melts.

 James has noticed certain scents are more common amongst different demographics.

 “I’ve talked to five different men who don’t know each other but are around the same age and they all love this fragrance [Beach Linen].”

 When he first started Victoria Candle Co., he said men had come to him asking for a non-fruity scent. He added his mental freedom scent and found that it was more popular for women because they liked that it smelled like a man.

 “I am glad to see that the narrative of the African American community is changing from being lazy and all of the negative stereotypes and how we’re stepping out of our comfort zones to prove those statements to be incorrect,” James said. “I’m glad to see that we are getting more degrees now than we were 30-50 years ago.”

 “Being a part of this journey is amazing, and I want to encourage everyone to keep fighting, keep getting degrees, keep getting an education because it wasn’t allowed at one point and not it’s no longer a privilege it’s a necessity, it’s a requirement, so let’s keep putting in the work and not let our ancestors’ fight be in vain.  It’s pointless for them to die for us to have the opportunity to do these things and not take full advantage of it,” James said.

Photo Editor Leah Sutton can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @LeahSutton_

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5 Comments

5 Responses to “Victoria Candle Co.: An entrepreneur’s dream of wax becomes a reality”

  1. Keitra Hawkins on February 28th, 2021 5:24 am

    That’s wonderful James I’m into making candles also still learning tho I was like stop buying expensive candles and make your own so that’s what I did I’m loving it keep up the good work please feel free to give me any advice on this candle making will be appreciate

  2. Linda Vaughn on March 2nd, 2021 6:01 am

    send me a copy of the candles that you make. I live in Dallas, TX

  3. Yolanda Chambers-George on March 4th, 2021 9:22 am

    I am so proud of you keep up the great work. You are a very wise young man. I also just started making candles. Your grandmother is so very proud!

  4. Wendolyn Lacy on March 6th, 2021 12:19 am

    Your story was confirmation that I must also continue my quest in Candle Making. The autrocities of COVID-19 kept me depressed after losing family members, but praying and candle making kept lifting me higher. I will keep you in my prayers. Stay focus and be blessed.

  5. Dena on March 11th, 2021 10:09 am

    I love your story and know that your grandmother is very proud that you received her message. I’m currently in the candle making business and I also make the candle massage oil. I was really thinking about quitting due to the lack of being able to get good supplies and the struggle with what’s the right wicks for the right wax and the best fragrance that will give the best HT. Any advice is greatly appreciated. Good luck on your journey and stay bless

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