We're a month from GeekCraft Expo Midwest 2017, and we're so excited to return to the Madison Masonic Center March 25-26! Want a preview? We interviewed Alicia Vande Ven of Asha's Homemade Candles, a returning exhibitor, and asked her how she makes amazing candles that smell like Harry Potter, Star Trek, Doctor Who, and more!
GeekCraft Expo: How did you get into making candles?
Asha's Homemade Candles: It started with empty baby food jars from my three kids and a Pinterest project. I experimented with tons of empty mason jars, sauce, and jelly jars, and finally found a huge lot of glass jars on Craigslist. It turned from hobby to business when I started with the geek candles, then my passion kicked into overdrive and I found myself on Etsy, at craft shows, and now I'm on Amazon, too!
GCE: What made you decide to design scents for sci-fi shows and other nerdy delights?
AVV: I’m a huge nerd. I grew up with an intense love of Star Trek and other sci-fi shows. Once I had the initial spark for the Star Trek scents, my brain started working to find other ways to tie my favorite geek fandoms with my candle making. Every nod to geek culture I make is because I love that book or series. People have asked if I'll make candles related to some particular fandom, and if it's not something I'm into, it's hard to be passionate and come up with the right scent and design, and I want to be passionate about everything I create.
GCE: How do you decide how, for example, Star Trek smells? What is your process?
AVV: My very first geek-themed candle was Tea. Earl Grey. Hot. I saw the Earl Grey tea fragrance oil and I immediately thought of Captain Picard's favorite beverage! Then it became a brainstorming of what other ways could I tie scents into Star Trek, and Vulcan Pon Farr and Klingon Bloodwine were born.
Sometimes I find a scent I really like and think, "How could I tie this into geek culture?" and other times I have a theme I really want to do and have to find a scent that would pair well with it. My first rule is it has to be a good scent--people have said my TARDIS candle should be fish fingers and custard, and while that's a great reference, I don't know that anyone wants to burn a candle that smells like fish fingers!
The hardest one was my Firefly candle, I wanted to make a Firefly-themed candle for a long time, but no scents were really jumping out at me until I found this Wild West fragrance that had hints of leather in it, then I was like yes and Browncoats was born.
In my opinion, my most clever pairing was the Dalek-themed candle that is an odor-eliminating fragrance called Exterminate.
GCE: What are the advantages of soy candles vs. paraffin ones?
AVV: Soy is great to work with because it's plant based and is an all-natural renewable resource. Paraffin is oil based and can leave black marks on your walls and reduce the air quality in your home. Soy burns clean, has great scent throw, and melts really nicely in containers and as tart melts.
GCE: What are your best-selling scents?
AVV: The number one is Harry Potter Butterbeer, with the TARDIS white tea and ginger a close second. Further behind in third place is Game of Thrones Winterfell.
GCE: How was your experience at GeekCraft Expo Midwest last year?
AVV: It was amazing! Not only did I sell out of my most popular scents, the people were so fun to interact and geek out with! The other vendors were great and I went home with several really cool pieces from other booths.
GCE: What types of things will you bring to GCE Midwest this year?
AVV: I've been working hard making new geek-themed scents like Sherlock, Browncoats (a Firefly reference) and my newest scent The Burrow (from Harry Potter). I've also been working overtime to stock up on my most popular scents so I don't run out like I did last year! I'll also have candles from Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones, Star Trek, Star Wars, Doctor Who, Hunger Games, and My Little Pony!
Our thanks to Alicia for a fantastic look at her creative process. Make sure to visit her in person at GeekCraft Expo Midwest March 25-26--it's free to the public, family friendly, and sure to be lots of geeky fun.