Warm Glow Candle Co. is thriving by embracing artisan communityBy Kevin Michell
When Alan and Jackie Carberry moved from Valparaiso, Indiana, to Richmond, Indiana, in the opposite corner of the state neither foresaw their future in the business of selling candles.
The origin of Warm Glow Candle Co. lies in the early 1990s when one of Jackie Carberry’s coworkers—who she describes as like a second mother to her—retired and moved to Richmond. The Carberrys soon followed, inspired to move by the beauty of an autumnal visit to the area.
But not long after they moved Jackie was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. It was a grim outlook that had doctors preparing the Carberrys for the worst. Thankfully, an experimental chemotherapy treatment was effective and Jackie Carberry has since been cancer-free.
“I guess God had a different plan for me,” she says. After the ordeal the Carberrys considered what to do next, which led to Jackie opening a small antiques shop in Richmond after they researched business opportunities.
“We knew from the beginning that we wanted this to be a business,” says Jackie. “We never started this as a hobby.”
But they were still surprised when candles became the most popular product, something they had stocked in part to add fragrance among the occasionally musty antiques.
By 1995 the couple were making what would become their signature “lumpy, bumpy” candles in their basement. They attended their first trade show that year, driving a trailer full of candles up to Valley Forge, Pennsylvania.
“Within the first two hours we were totally sold out,” Jackie recalls. “And then when we got home there were already orders on the recorder.”
Warm Glow was off and running, leading to the purchase in 2000 of a much larger retail space in nearby Centerville, Indiana, just off Interstate 70. In the years since the Centerville outlet store and Warm Glow’s business model has grown to the point that the Carberrys are able to give other fledgling artisans and crafters a chance to succeed.
“Our sense of community has been very strong from the get-go,” says Jackie. “It was this community that brought us to where we are today so we’ve always been sensitive and appreciative of the surrounding area.”
As part of that appreciation, the Carberrys opened up Artisans & Java in the building next to Warm Glow’s Centerville outlet. There artists and creators sell their wares alongside premium coffee provided by Dayton’s Boston Stoker Coffee Co.
In addition, three annual events bring visitors to Warm Glow in droves.
The biggest of them—the Fall Festival—takes place in late September. The autumn event celebrates the beauty that initially brought the Carberrys to Richmond and the surrounding community that has supported them since.
Nearly 150 vendors join food trucks and other attractions for the sixth festival, which has grown so large so fast that the Carberrys have to use an 8-acre lot just for parking. The Centerville store also hosts open houses in the springtime and near Christmas.
Warm Glow candles are now sold in hundreds of stores across 41 states, including retailers in Xenia and Yellow Springs. But after all the company’s growth and success, Jackie Carberry most appreciates her and her husband’s role in promoting local entrepreneurs and artisans.
“A strong part of who we are is community,” she says, “and it is so important for people to remember to shop local.”