by Lee Noles
MONROE – Part of Shannon Pearman’s job as a PE teacher is making sure her students know how they can help care for the Earth. Pearman certainly practices what she preaches.
The Union County resident takes an assortment of glass bottles and reuses them as part of her candle-making business. Pearman started Sweet Union Candles a little more than a year ago, and in that time, her savory scented torches have found their way to art shops, wineries and marketplaces throughout North Carolina.
“I’m a health teacher. It’s what I teach,” Pearman said. “I teach to take care of your planet, your climate and your health. It’s also all about being resourceful.”
Pearman’s involvement in candle-making happened when friend Toni South asked if Pearman could help get her business ready for the annual Southern Christmas Show in Charlotte. Pearman jumped at the opportunity and in return South began teaching her how to create fragrance-scented candles that feature the benefits of essential oils.
The method to making the candles, which include fruitful names such as Orange Blossom and Grapefruit Lavender, is not a challenge for Pearman. What can be demanding for her is fitting it with her other roles as teacher, mother of four and wife.
“It’s about making it part of your routine,” said Pearman, who teaches at Porter Ridge Elementary. “I’m cooking dinner on one stove and waiting for the wax to melt on the other.”
The business has become a family affair with Pearman’s husband, Andrew, cutting and smoothing out glass bottles. The couple’s four daughters, who range in ages from 3 to 7 years old, have jumped in by working with their mother to place fragrances into the cooled off wax. Pearman tries to use local ingredients as much as she can with coffee beans from a shop in Charlotte and rosemary, lavender and other fragrances from surrounding farmer markets.
“Every dollar you can put back into your community is great,” she said. “I would rather support a local family instead of a corporation.”
The bottles Pearman uses come from people who drop them off, or from wineries, breweries and festivals that Pearman visits in the surrounding area. Andrew Pearman cleans and then uses a saw file to cut the bottles in half before sanding the edges.
“We have about half of our garage filled with bottles,” Shannon Pearman said.
Pearman even uses the wine bottles to help business by leaving the label on them and placing a picture of the bottle on Instagram. She asks people to send a message on which fragrance would go best with the bottle. Pearman then proceeds to make a scented candle that fits the style of the label.
The move has worked with the Windsor Run Winery in the Yadkin Valley. The winery asked Pearman if they could sell her candles after seeing its label on one of the pictures.
She also has a post on Instagram where people can choose fragrances that Pearman then turns into a scent for the candles. One of the fragrance people have mentioned is peppermint eucalyptus because of its ability to maintain focus. Rosemary lavender is another.
The candles have caught on with Pearman selling them at 47K Marketplace in Monroe and the Sweetest Beginnings in Concord.
“This has all been overwhelming,” Pearman said. “We have people who come into Charlotte, and they want it to be shipped to them somewhere in the United States.”
The candles’ success does not mean Pearman is thinking about expanding her business. Pearman said she wants to maintain the local feel that was there when she first started in summer 2017.
“We are flattered to be in the shops we are in. And the winery, as well,” Pearman said. “But that’s it. We are happy to be where we are at.”