Too hot to candle: Gladstone business still shining 2 years later

·3 min read

Jul. 14—GLADSTONE, N.D. — Sometimes in life it takes a certain fire to light the wick and get rolling on a dream. For Tasha Ricker of Gladstone, that fire came in the form of a global pandemic.

This month, Ricker is celebrating the two-year anniversary of her company's founding — The Little Town Soy Candle Company.

Ricker is originally from Alaska and moved to the Western Edge in 2015 to work in the oil industry, then met her husband Josh in Killdeer. When the pandemic shutdowns began in 2020, she was laid off from her job that summer and was looking for something to occupy her time. Her candle business ignited as a hobby, with a great deal of support from candle seeking friends and the flame spread from there.

She said Pride of Dakota has been immensely helpful in her success.

"We've gotten our products all over the state and a lot of our referrals have come from Pride of Dakota," she said. "It's definitely been nice having a little bit of a mentor. And I mean, we bounce ideas off each other."

Pride of Dakota

is a cooperative established by North Dakota's Agriculture Commissioner Kent Jones in 1985. It enables businesses of all types and sizes with products made in the state to market them as such.

It also helps that she's had a good mentor who's been in the business for a decade.

"My mother-in-law actually owns her own candle company in Olympia, Washington. This was initially her idea. She was like, 'I could teach you some things.' So I did learn a lot of tips and tricks from her," Ricker said.

Since establishing the operation, she said supply chain issues have been a major obstacle.

"With the whole COVID pandemic going on, you know, stuff being shut down, coming from overseas and freight charges; it was just insane to find jars," she said. "Once they came back in stock, we stocked up on them. But now we've noticed it's fragrance oils and wicks. It's just like one thing after another that you have a hard time finding. So anytime something is available, you have to buy it in mass quantities."

She elaborated that she spends a significant portion of her work day online.

"It's a struggle. I would say I spend about half my time not even making candles. Instead I'm on the laptop searching for supplies and finding the best shipping deals because shipping is just outrageous now. So I'd say that's the most challenging part of the business," she said.

Yet the reward of providing a product people love makes it all worth it, she said, explaining that using soy wax elongates the life of a candle.

"Soy wax has been known to have a cleaner, more consistent burn. The more consistent burn allows your candle to burn at the right temperature... Versus like a paraffin wax, they can burn hot so that's going to eat up your candle a lot faster," she said. "Then soy is obviously better for the environment."

According to The New York Times, another environmental benefit is that soy wax produces less soot than paraffin. This also makes soy

less likely

to cause irritation for those with allergies or asthma.

Ricker added that paraffin is a byproduct of petroleum, while soy use supports local and midwestern farmers.

"Our soy actually comes from Iowa," she said, explaining how the wax making process works. "It comes in bead form, like little pellets. We buy those by the 45-pound bag on a pallet. It's ready to melt when we get it. So we just dump it in our melter, melt it to the right temperature, add in all our fragrances and then pour it by hand."

Little Town offers a wide variety of products, including custom candles. For information, visit

littletownsoycandleco.com

or the Little Town Soy Candle Co.

Facebook

page. Ricker can be reached at

info@littletownsoycandle.com

.