Create the Vibe Candle Company, a make-your-own candle shop located on Franklin Street, provides Kirksville with a creative and heavenly-scented candle experience. Established by Megan Howard-Boyer during March 2020, the shop allows you to create a personal candle, including scent and color. Customers can also purchase candles that Howard-Boyer has made herself.
A Truman State University alumna, Howard-Boyer was inspired to operate a business based on candle-making by her own lifestyle. She noted the influence her mother’s habit of burning candles when she was younger had on her, and said she herself enjoyed burning candles in her own home.
“I love lighting a candle first thing in the morning to kind of set the intention or the vibe for the day,” Howard-Boyer said. “It’s just a habit … One of the first things I do in the morning is get my coffee and light a candle.”
One of the other inspirations for starting the business, Howard-Boyer said, was the COVID-19 pandemic.
Both a personal-trainer and now a small business owner, Howard-Boyer sought an alternative method of making money when she could no longer meet with clients in-person. Although she still works as a personal trainer, creating candles and shipping them nationwide at the beginning of the pandemic was a way to stay financially sound during difficult times.
“I tried to think of, you know, ‘What can I do?’ And I thought, ‘Well, I burn my money on candles, why not try to figure out how to make and sell them?’ That’s where it all started,” said Howard-Boyer about the inspiration for her business.
Although there are challenges to operating a small business during a continued worldwide pandemic, Howard-Boyer has met mostly success. As the pandemic shifted, so did her business model. She first began with shipping products to homes then began to offer private parties. She moved into her current space during November.
For her, material availability has caused most of her challenges. From jars, to lids, to wicks, Howard-Boyer has struggled to obtain the materials necessary to make the candles. According to Howard-Boyer, each of her materials has been difficult to obtain at times. She also noted that shipping prices can be difficult but maintained that the experience has been beneficial for her.
Although many small businesses have struggled during the COVID-19 pandemic, Howard-Boyer has been able to not only survive but become successful.
“For me personally, it really was a blessing in disguise because had it never happened, I wouldn’t be doing this. Luckily, I was able to really just thrive with the business,” she said.
In terms of the items available to purchase, each item is handcrafted. Howard-Boyer completes every step of the process herself, including combining scents, pouring the candles and designing labels. Further, she offers not just candles, but make-your-own-wax-melts as well, which she noted could be beneficial for students in dormitories or for clients whose landlords have rules against burning candles.
Part of what Howard-Boyer views as most rewarding about operating a business in a smaller town is the ability to form relationships with clients. This includes getting to know customers by name and talking with them.
“When anyone comes to the candle bar, or when I have private parties, I really like the intimate setting and just getting to know customers and providing a welcoming and nice experience.”
One of the essential things about Howard-Boyer’s business is the individualized experience of creating one’s own candle. She also offers services regarding plants, such as repotting, buy/sell/trade services and her own custom homemade potting soil.
Howard-Boyer also mentioned one other important aspect for Truman students specifically.
“Students get a discount,” she said with a laugh.
One Truman student who has visited “Create the Vibe” is senior Mikayla Thomas. Having visited right after the business opened its first location beside “To Die For Bakery,” she noted that she was interested in its create-your-own-candle experience. Part of that interest was due to Thomas’s experiences as an employee at a candle bar in Jefferson City.
Thomas noted her own affinity for candles and her interest in how Howard-Boyer utilized the candle bar in her own business. When Thomas visited, larger groups required a reservation, which differed from her experience with candle bars.
“But still just the concept of being able to make your own [was] something I was familiar with and was eager to see how it worked here,” Thomas said.
One of Thomas’s favorite parts of her visit was the variety of available jars, including the different colors available. She noted that she liked the cologne scent options available. She also enjoyed her experience with Howard-Boyer.
Thomas also noted that “Create the Vibe” adds variety to Kirksville’s entertainment options.
“It definitely adds more of a college vibe 一 like cool things to do on weekends for college students. She definitely advertised it as a lady’s night out kind of thing,” said Thomas. According to her, the candle shop provides “things to do in Kirksville that’s not your standard thing.”