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Meet the makers behind Wixology Candle Company

Learn about how four friends turned a passion for cocktails into a national candle business.

A photo of a hand holding a copper cocktail shaker next to a candle.

All Wixology Candles come with a recipe card to craft your own cocktail. | Photo courtesy of Wixology Candle Co.

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In honor of Drink Up Month, we’re highlighting a local Six & Main brand, Wixology Candle Company. Though you might be wondering, “What do candles have to do with drinks?”

Each deliciously-scented candle is inspired by a cocktail, and once you’re done burning through it, the glass is meant to live a second life as a tumbler. Fun fact: Each candle comes with a recipe for the drink its scent is inspired by.

We asked co-founder James Vermillion some of our burning questions about how Wixology got started, and some plans for the future.

Tell us a little bit about how the business idea started.

“Wixology Candle Company is the brainchild of myself and Alex Janesz, fueled by the creative supplement of bourbon. After many spirited discussions (literally, we’d make cocktails for our brainstorming sessions), we landed on the concept of cocktail-inspired candles.

But we wanted to do more than that, so we brought on Alex’s creative brother Pat to help. From there, we added many of the features that our customers have come to love — reusable rocks glasses, drink recipe cards, tube packaging, and tax-stamp design elements.

We love the sustainability aspect of re-using the glass for a cocktail. How did that idea come about?

“From the outset, our vision revolved around the creation of a sustainable product. We recognized the importance of utilizing a high-quality vessel that could be repurposed, which aligned perfectly with our cocktail theme. This consideration prompted us to delve deeper into every aspect of the candle-making process.

With the intention of offering a truly clean product that would encourage reuse, we exclusively use natural, plant-based waxes + phthalate-free fragrance oils. Mindful of providing a hassle-free experience, we selected an easy-peel label for our glass containers.

Our commitment to sustainability extends beyond the candle itself. We use hemp-core wicks and opted for recyclable cardboard tube packaging, minimizing waste and reducing our environmental footprint.”

Three men and two women standing together smiling.

Wixology founders James Vermillion, Alex Janesz, and Pat Janesz. | Photo courtesy of Wixology Candle Co.

How has the process changed over the years?

“Wixology launched at the end of 2016, and while the process remains intact, the scale has grown. In the early days, the candles were produced in a makeshift factory in my basement, using a small wax melter and a few tables. As the business grew, and with my wife’s encouragement, we moved out of the basement. After several moves to accommodate our growth, we recently purchased a dedicated facility. Today’s equipment is larger, but all our candles are still hand-poured and hand-labeled.”

Talk about the growth. Where did you all start and where can people find your candles now?

“From the very beginning, we made the deliberate choice to bootstrap our business to see how far we could take it. Embracing the grassroots spirit, my wife Kate fearlessly ventured into her favorite local shops to pitch the candles and the Wixology story. Fortunately, our community embraced our vision — we were blessed with the support of some wonderful local boutiques and Kentucky distilleries.”

What advice do you have for small business start-ups?

“In a world enamored with the allure of grandeur and rapid expansion, it is worth remembering that bigger doesn’t always equate to better. It’s easy to get caught up in the hype of overnight success and hyper-growth, but those results are not typical and can lead business owners astray. Choose great, not big.”

Your personal favorite scents that you offer?

“As an unabashed coffee addict, I always revert to our Coffee and Bourbon Cream — the only side effect is it triggers a craving that sends me to Manchester Coffee, Brevedé, or another one of my favorite Lexington coffee shops. Another favorite is the Sidecar. It is perfectly balanced between the orange citrus and notes of spice, perfect for all seasons. Plus, the Sidecar is an excellent cocktail.”

What’s next for you all? Any new scents coming out?

“Just in time for summer, we launched a Margarita candle that our customers have been requesting for years. We’re also designing a premium gift box because we know how much people like gifting Wixology candles. We’re working on a few other projects that are sure to please the nose.”

You can shop for Wixology Candles locally at the Origin Hotel, Keeneland Mercantile, as well as online from its digital home or Six & Main.

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