By Lee Noles
Jamie Abbondanza’s pride for her husband’s job as a police officer in Charlotte is so great, she decided to show her appreciation by creating homemade candles with logos for all first responders.
Little did she know her act of respect would turn into a full-fledged business she calls Abb’s Commonscents.
“The scent is just a play off the candles, while Abb’s is a nickname people have given my husband,” Abbondanza said. “It’s nothing special.”
What is special is how the business got its start. After being downsized last December, Abbondanza was looking for something to fill her time before starting her next career. Her family had always loved burning candles, so she visited websites and chatrooms and learned the process.
“It kind of just snowballed from there,” Abbondanza said.
She decorated the candles with police emblems and kept them around the house for the family to enjoy, before realizing she was ready for more. She took them to Bojangles’ Arena in Charlotte and sold them at a hockey game between the local public safety departments in Mecklenburg County. Abbondanza was amazed at the reception she got at the fundraiser and gave a dollar from every candle she sold back to the organizations.
“It meant a lot to me to see that it was important enough to them to have something and show how appreciative they are of their significant other,” said Abbondanza, who can personalize the candleholder by placing the name and badge number of the officer.
The success at the hockey game only had Abbondanza wanting to branch out to a wider market. She went on a Facebook page that supports wives of officers who are running a small business and started sending orders to California, Nevada and a larger shipment to a store in Florida.
Things only grew after the urging of her husband, Mike, to try candles that were not just for first responders and their family. Abbondanza bought wine glasses and coffee cups in bulk and placed funny sayings on them. She also created candles for weddings by printing the couples’ name and the date of their marriage on the glasses.
“It’s a little candle they can take home with them,” Abbondanza said.
Abbondanza expanded her fragrances from the normal lavender and vanilla that are common for candles to ones better fit for the seasons. She is working on flavors that have a smell more associated with pumpkins, cinnamon and candy apple.
“Things that remind you of a fair in the fall,” Abbondanza said.
The process of creating the wax usually lasts a couple of hours and involves Abbondanza melting a 50-pound bag of soy flake in a pot at around 185 degrees. She lets it cool to 125 degrees so it can set. Decorating the glass can be longer with Abbondanza using a special glue and a soft sanding sponge to put on the words and emblems.
Articles and talking with experts online has helped in making the 10-hour process easier.
“There are professional candle makers, and then there are people like me who are just beginning to do this,” Abbondanza said of using the internet. “It’s a good place to get tricks and tips.”
The success has left Abbondanza amazed that in less than a year she went from searching for a job to running her own burgeoning business. Even after the rapid growth of her candles, she realizes what is most important for her.
“I have started thinking bigger, but at the same time, I don’t want to stretch myself too much like I did when I was in the corporate world,” said Abbondanza, who also works from home for an auto injury company. “I like spending as much time as I can with my family.”
Want some candles?
Abbondanza’s candles are at Peddler’s Paradise, 105 W. Franklin St., Monroe. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.