Shane and Erin Lockman didnâ€™t invent the soy candle.
But they just may have perfected it.
â€œWe actually bought this business,â€ Erin said of Nook and Cranny Candle Company, which the couple has owned since February 2006.
Although the business had already been around for seven years under a different owner, the Lockmans found they had their work cut out for them when they took the helm.
The previous owner didnâ€™t tell them the product theyâ€™d need to make their candles was no longer available.
The Lockmans ended up having to replace more than 100 candles from a 700 candle order.
And that was practically on day one.
Yet after four months of testing and trial and error, the couple found a formula that worked.
â€œItâ€™s more of a science than people know,â€ Shane said.
Soy candles have become popular of late, as more and more people jump on the â€œgreenâ€ bandwagon. Unlike their petroleum-based paraffin counterparts, soy candles are clean burning; they release nothing harmful into the air.
And these candles also have an entirely different use.
When melted, they can be used as a lotion, although the Lockmans are quick to point out that itâ€™s probably safer to use the tart versions â€“ pieces of soy candle with no wick that require burners, which the couple also sells.
While the Lockmans devote a lot of their collective time to Nook and Cranny, both also have day jobs. Erin works in marketing and is co-owner of The Dancerâ€™s Edge Dance Studio, while Shane owns Lockman Remodeling.
â€œItâ€™s nights and weekends,â€ Shane said of the time the couple spends in their basement workshop.
Christmas was an especially busy time for Nook and Cranny; the Lockmans say they were up working until at least midnight every night in the weeks leading up to the holiday.
Fall is also a busy time for the couple, as Nook and Cranny has a presence at numerous area festivals, including the Apple Festival.
Repeat customers are a big source of business at festivals, and the Lockmans say some regulars at the Autumn Leaves Festival in Mount Airy actually buy enough candles to last them until the next festival.
Fundraisers also keep the business booming.
The couple say there is no up-front cost to groups who sell the candles to raise funds, and the groups get 50 percent of the profits.
Erin says the kids at Dancerâ€™s Edge did it and raised an average of $100 each.
â€œItâ€™s great for both ends,â€ Shane said.
Nook and Cranny offers its soy candles in 16 scents and two sizes for fundraising groups.
Yet in their overall catalog, the Lockmans carry many more scents. Itâ€™s all about keeping their candle-loving customers happy.
â€œCandle people know exactly what name theyâ€™re looking for,â€ Shane said of the reason they donâ€™t change the names of their scents, which include such memorable monikers as â€œButt Naked.â€
One thing the Lockmans say sets their product apart from others is the amount of scent they put into each candle. They say others only put scent on top.
â€œWe put as much scent as our wax will allow,â€ Shane said.
In addition to fundraisers and festivals, the Lockmans sell their wares on their Web site and at a few stores, including Saunders Furniture in Lincolnton and Green Mother Goods in Boone.
Nook and Cranny also does private labeling for wedding favors or other personalized gifts. One of the Charlotte Bobcats cheerleaders had some made for the other members of the squad, and the Lockmans also did some for Lincolnton High Schoolâ€™s class of 1967 reunion.
â€œWe do it quite often,â€ Shane said.
And when it comes to anything they do with their candles, the Lockmans work in tandem.
â€œWe do it together,â€ Erin said of their work.
The couple has a basement workshop with a TV they say is nicer than the one in their living room; they spend a lot of time down there.
â€œWe try to make it fun,â€ Shane said. â€œWeâ€™ll take chips and dip down there.â€
Whether theyâ€™re making candles, labeling them or dreaming up new scents, the Lockmans work as a team.
â€œItâ€™s probably made us closer because weâ€™re together,â€ Erin said.
Nook and Cranny Candle Company
n Product: soy candles and tarts; tart burners
n Location: based in Lincolnton
n Owners: Shane and Erin Lockman
n Biggest Customers: fundraising groups, festival goers and individuals having special events; the company also sells candles wholesale to retailers.
n Contact: Visit www.nookcrannycandles.com for more information about fundraising, private labeling or wholesale candles.
by Allyson Levine