syrup row | local business spotlight

A lot of times, the people you know are the ones who help you meet other awesome people. Thanks to my fiance and a bunch of mutual friends, I met Shaylyn a couple years ago. During Mardi Gras this year, we got to talking and I learned she's the entrepreneur behind Syrup Row, a local candle venture. Shaylyn makes her candles as eco-friendly as possible, and I knew I had to feature her on Eco Cajun.

Plus, I really wanted to watch her make some candles!

We got together recently and she guided me through her candle-making process. I had a very fun and educational time, and Shaylyn really inspired to reuse some old candle jars I have and make my own essential oil candles for my home.

Shaylyn started out making her own candles in 2014 after visiting the farmer's market and seeing a candle booth, but not finding any scents she liked. She had already been saving wine bottles to use in crafts, and the idea hit her one day that she could use the wine bottles as vessels for candles. Because of her passion for sustainability, she researched how to make eco-friendly candles instead of traditional ones.

All of Syrup Row's candles are made with an all-natural soy wax, which is renewable, nontoxic and American-made. Soy candles burn slower and cleaner than traditional paraffin wax candles, which are made from petroleum. Shaylyn also uses an eco-friendly wick, made from cotton braided with thin paper threads. For the scents, she uses essential oils and specialized candle fragrance oils.

Shaylyn sources her wine bottles from friends, family and the Lafayette Whole Foods Market, providing her a steady supply of bottles that would otherwise end up in the trashcan or recycling bin.

When we got together for my educational afternoon, we created a candle from start to finish. And by we, I mean Shaylyn did all the work while I took pictures, drank wine (just helping the bottle supply!) and spoiled her dog, Pootie.

The first step in the process is to give the bottle a bath and scrape the label off. Once it's clean, Shaylyn measures where to make the cut and preps her outdoor workspace.

When she first started out, Shaylyn would cut each bottle by hand, by scoring them, then using hot and cold water, then sanding the sharp edges down. After awhile, she got tired of the sore arms and decided to invest in a wet saw and sander that would make the process a whole lot quicker. With cutting and sanding glass, she takes care to be safe, using very stylish glasses, masks, gloves and earplugs.

Shaylyn also holds on to the bottle tops so they don't get thrown away. She's currently using them as decoration, but is looking for ways to recycle them or reuse them in other crafts. I love her attention to no waste!

Once the bottle is cut and sanded, it gets another cleaning in the sink. Any rough or sharp spots are sanded again.

For bottles that have a tall punt (the name for that hump at the bottom, which yes, I learned during our afternoon together), Shaylyn adds some plaster to even out the bottom. She does this instead of pouring candle wax so that all the wax can be burned and there's no leftovers.

Once the plaster goes into the bottle, it's time to heat the wax before adding the candle or essential oil. Syrup Row's candles are eight ounces, which gives lots of burn time.

Shaylyn says, "My favorite part of the process would have to be mixing the fragrance into the wax. When I was younger I used to want to be a scientist and do experiments, so this is probably the closest I will ever get!" She heats up the soy wax and then adds her fragrance oil to it. For our example candle, she chose to use her favorite scent, Amber Noir, an amazing musky scent. We both love the more masculine scents over flowery ones!

"I JUST got some new fragrances in and I think I may be addicted to Amber Noir! My previous favorites are Antique Sandalwood, Bonfire Bliss and White Tea. And during the holiday season, I can't get enough of Blue Spruce!"
While the wax is being prepared, the wick gets added to the wine bottle and propped up for drying. Once the wax is cooled, but still liquid, Shaylyn pours it in to the bottle and sets it aside to harden.

Shaylyn cleans up any wax drippings on the bottle by heating it with a blowdryer...a pretty neat tip that I'll be using to get wax off the sides of my jars. She also has a great tip on melting the wax that is left from tunneling - when the candle doesn't burn evenly outward. Just wrap some aluminum foil around your candle while it's lit and it'll heat the surrounding wax faster! Again, no waste.

Once it's done, the wick is trimmed and it's time for the final touch - adding the label!

Currently, Shaylyn makes all her candles in her spare time and makes the rounds at area craft shows and Lafayette's ArtWalk. In addition, she sells her candles on her website. This Saturday, April 18, she'll be making her farmer's market debut at the Abbeville Farmer's Market.

What I love about Syrup Row is how it's a true labor of love. Shaylyn pays attention in every step of the process to keep it green, and she does everything by hand, including lettering the scent name on the label!

To complete the eco-friendly circle, Shaylyn also has a deal for all her current customers. Once your candle is burned down to the end, you can bring her your candle bottle, and she'll make a new candle for you at 10% off. Forever recycling!

She hopes to be able to expand into wholesale one day, but for now, she's content making her candles by hand in her spare time and selling them online and at local craft shows.

Visit Syrup Row's website and follow them on Facebook and Instagram!

Thanks again for having me, Shaylyn!

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