Typically, the delicious aroma of food foretells an equally delicious meal, but with Meghan Cook's line of soy candles—many of which are food-inspired—the scent is the main course. "I've always loved mixing flavors," says (the aptly named) Cook. "As a kid I tried to make a cookie dough out of butter, brown sugar, hot cocoa mix, flour, and honey—my mom was nice enough to pretend to take a bite." In 2007 Cook decided to combine her interest in flavor with her love of all-natural beauty products and candles, and soon she was whipping up lip balms, lotions, and candles with scent combinations like cocoa and espresso, fig and vanilla, and grapefruit and orange. When some candles she'd created for a bridal shower were a hit, Cook made them her main focus. By last year her candle company, Sydney Hale Co. (named in honor of her grandfather Sidney, and husband, Christopher Hale Cook), had become so successful, she left her job to devote herself to the business full-time.
When developing a new candle fragrance, Cook often works backward. "I come up with a name first—something that rolls off the tongue, like mint and geranium," she says. "If a combination sounds interesting to me, I want to bring the two elements together to see if they work." Once she hits on the perfect pairing, Cook experiments with aromatic oils until the scent is just right. ("I don't like overpowering smells," she says. "So I keep mine very subtle.") Then the actual candle-making—melting soy wax flakes, pouring the molten liquid, trimming wicks—begins, carried out start to finish in Cook's home kitchen. "I work in small batches," she says. "And after the candles finish cooling, I polish each one and hand-stamp each label. It's very much a labor of love."
"I like to provide materials that can be reused," Cook says. Sydney Hale Co.'s candles—available in 12 fragrances—come in a 14-ounce tumbler that becomes a drinking glass after the candle is finished. But her primary goal will always be to offer a sensory experience: "I want my candles to add to the beauty of your home but also serve as aromatherapy." They might just awaken your appetite, too.
— Rachel Bertsche
Photo: Stephen Hansen