Coal and Canary on the red carpet

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This article was published 23/02/2015 (2778 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Inside a quaint, second-floor studio in the exchange district, two best friends have moulded an internationally renowned candle-making company almost overnight.

Tom Jansen, a 24-year-old St. Vital local, began making candles three years ago and continuously kept making adjustments until he was happy with the final product. He reached out to his best friend, St. James resident Amanda Buhse to help him turn his high-quality candles into a meaningful brand and business, leading to the creation of Coal and Canary.

“We expected to have some success but not this early and definitely not at this scale,” Jansen said.

Photo by Jen Cameron Best friends Tom Jansen and Amanda Buhse started up their own candle-making company, Coal and Canary, and managed to land their products in the Oscars and Grammys swag bags.

Jansen is currently completing a nursing practicum at the University of Manitoba and Buhse works full-time as a senior graphic designer. While Jansen originally started selling candles to friends and family and then at the St. Norbert Farmers’ market, the Coal and Canary brand officially launched in September 2014 and has seen astounding success and support since.

Coal and Canary products have been picked up by 16 different retailers across Canada, many of which are Winnipeg based including: Lacoste Garden Centre, Café Postal, Tonic Spa and Hair, and G is for Glasses to name a few. The duo recently had a professional dream come true when their products were chosen to be included in this year’s Oscars and Grammys swag bags.

The two had sat down to map out a five-year business plan and discussed a long-term goal of getting their candles into a gift bag at a large event. Thinking how nuts it would be if one day that event was the Oscars, Buhse started googling to find a corresponding email address for the company in charge of the gift bags.

Her email, which asked if their company could be considered in a few years’ time, went unaddressed for several weeks. The company, called Distinctive Assets, eventually replied saying they were impressed with their products and wanted to include Coal and Canary candles in the bags for this year.

“Just the thought of Beyoncé having my candle at her house is bizarre, I haven’t been able to wrap my head around it yet,” Buhse said.

Both Buhse and Jansen say they were “over the moon” about the opportunity and together, produced 300 box sets of three custom-made votive candles made out of soy and vegetable wax.

The three candles in the award box set are called “fake lashes & camera flashes,” “party hopping & selfie swapping,” and “swag bag & jet lag,” and are available for purchase in limited quantity online.

“We use the highest quality ingredients, we don’t cheap out on that and we use a wooden wick as well,” Jansen said. “Not a lot of people use it, it’s a little more expensive than using cotton wicks but it provides a nice crackle when it’s burning.”

He explains how each candle creates a nice scent throw, even when it isn’t burning, and will fill an entire house with scent. The soy vegetable wax blend Coal and Canary uses is vegan and burns free of soot without releasing any chemicals.

The company stands out in the market because of it’s cheeky and playful approach. The sayings and personalized stories on the candles target a younger demographic, yet the scents are universal, like sea salt and caramel or biscotti.

With candle orders coming in from Australia, Hong Kong and California, the two have found themselves making candles at 4:30 a.m. more than once.

Their family and friends have helped out a tremendous amount and they’ve even received offers from complete strangers willing to come and help them meet their deadlines.

Coal and Canary products are available online, in-person at their studio and at several retailers around the city, which can be found on their website.

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