America Drunk Off Candles
The story of how two young entrepreneurs are cleaning up by tapping to into their love affair with the bottle.
H as America gone alcohol and drug crazy? You might believe so, given the legalization of marijuana in Colorado and several other states considering similar measures—or the upcoming release of Palcohol, a powdered version of alcohol, feared by many to become a potential teen snorting problem. But, for two young entrepreneurs, excess and partying were the farthest thing from their mind when they started Liquor Wicks, a year-old company devoted to the up-cycling of discarded liquor bottles, transforming them into thematic, eco-friendly votive scented candles.
The Massachusetts duo, Meaghan McCarthy and Freddy Freeman, just lost their jobs and went out with friends to a local restaurant for some consoling support. While at dinner, the eco-conscious boyfriend and girlfriend admired the beautifully designed bottles used by the bar area and felt it a shame that
The most common candle scents that Liquor Wicks sells according to Meaghan McCarthy are:
– Black Raspberry
– Vanilla Ice-cream
– Macintosh Apple
– Cucumber Melon
– French Vanilla
– Pear Berry
their fate was destined for the local landfill. It was then, that they hatched a clever plan to help mother-earth by recycling anything they could from hundreds of restaurants and bars around the state.
They would drive their truck from morning to early evening to the restaurants, once-a-week, to pick up discarded waste that was recyclable. Later, returning to Freddy’s mother’s garage to spend the next several hours sorting the haul for the recycling centers.
Planning that the recycled materials would start to pay them to do what they love, since Massachusetts is a state that rewards consumers with a bottle and can deposit, they where disappointed when they realized much of the restaurant’s trash was non-depositable. Deposits do not apply to liquor bottles, one of the chief discards.
Frustratingly stuck with stacked up empty liquor bottles in the garage would be a lemonaid-out-of-lemons moment for the young business, “seing all those bottles reminded me of my grandparents wine collection. My grandmother would cut empty bottles open when I was a kid to make drinking glasses. I’m told it was the thing to do in the 60s and 70s,” said McCarthy. But that idea grew. Meaghan and Freddy finally found a use for the liquor bottles—that was the beginning of Liquor Wicks.
Liquor Wicks now uses most top-shelf post-consumer liquor bottles to create scented 100% soy candles, made in America. “You can add a little soy wax to a candle and call it a ‘soy candle,’ there are no regulations. Soy burns clean and does not hurt the environment while paraffin, the major ingredient in most common candles, is burning a petroleum product,” says McCarthy. “We use natural essential oils, 100% soy wax, and 100% cotton wicks, which while they are much more expensive then common competitors, we believe in the eco-benefits,” adds Meaghan.
The duo has been experimenting with scents and have developed their own signature aromas like Macintosh Apple (of course in a Angry Orchard bottle) but, offer novelty scents like beer, chardonnay, gin, and other liquor-themed fragrances. They have the ability on their Etsy site to create up to three-hundred combinations with their build-your-own candle store. Meaghan shared, “we started doing a lot of custom weddings and events—the brides love to create their own smell for their big day.”
The team still follows through on their constant recycling program of the state’s restaurants and bars, but has become profitable by adding their Liquor Wicks sideline. “We sell our candles online at Etsy and at local fairs, art shows, and festivals. We try not to travel far, conserving gas and keeping our carbon footprint as small as possible, and we have our soy wax supplier in the same center as our warehouse, ” says Freeman. He added,”our soy wax is made at American soy farms—we are helping them too.”
So, while you might not be able to get drunk off the liquor-scented, liquor bottle-contained candles, it might just find a market with America’s burgeoning obsession with drugs and alcohol. The company is already looking to expand around the country and seeks entrepreneurial young people willing to sell their candles at local fairs and events.
Buy Liquor Wick candles at: Etsy.com and contact them direct for distributorships.