Made in Eastern Iowa: A Marion Business Owner Is Not Burned Out on Candles

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MARION, Iowa (KCRG) - Emily Pearson was only 16 when she and her mother bought a business. Who knew what would come from it?

Emily Pearson, owner of Candle Barn Candles in Marion, bought the business in 2014, when she was only 16 and still a student at Marion High School.

"My dad said 'why don't you try it out?' I said 'why would I own a business at 16?," said Pearson. "I tried it out and I kind of loved it and it grew from there. It didn't take up as much as I thought it would. I was manager of my football team as well and soccer and I did it as much as I could. I can do about 150 candles in about 3 hours. It depends that, if we get into a groove, we can make candles, just depends how much time we have."

The "we" with Candle Barn Candles comes from Emily and a handful of others in the back room of a large warehouse and office building in Marion. Emily said they turn on music and start cranking out the candles that have striking names, such as "Nuts About You" or "Monkey Farts".

Emily is up to more than 100 different scents that she sells.

"Every few months I’ll look at new ones," she said of the hunt for more fragrances. "I just had someone ask for a toasted marshmallow."

A gathering point has emerged, on those lazy Saturday mornings in Cedar Rapids, for example, during the eight farmers' markets from June to September where thousands of people can see the product and learn more about her brand.

"Farmers' markets and consignment shops in the area do really well," said Pearson of where her sales sweet spots are. "Also salons. I do have some shops in the area, down by the NewBo area."

Along with retail sales points, Emily's candles also surfaced at arts and crafts shows throughout the region, such as in Dubuque, Coralville and Des Moines just this fall.

A real challenge is approaching for Emily as she is only a "teenager" for a little while longer. Recently married at age 19, she and her husband are moving to Colorado for about eighteen months with the intention of returning to Eastern Iowa.

"It's going to be a little slower in the next year and a half. I'll keep in touch with my consignment stores and we'll still be there and our customers will get their candles."