The future is burning bright for Smell of Love Candles and its 12-year-old CEO.
After starting the Vienna-based business in his family’s kitchen about two years ago, Alejandro Buxton will bring his homemade, soy and coconut wax candles to Tysons Corner Center next week, opening Smell of Love’s first brick-and-mortar location.
Located on the mall’s second floor between Victoria’s Secret and Banana Republic, the kiosk will open with a ribbon-cutting at 10 a.m. next Thursday (Sept. 1). Customers during opening weekend, which will go through Sept. 5, can enter a giveaway for the chance to win a year of free candles.
“It’s very exciting working at Tysons, because my mom grew up in Tysons. My family actually still shops at Tysons,” Alejandro said. “It’s a big thing, making our candles there.”
The idea for Smell of Love took hold when Alejandro’s family realized that the headaches his mom sometimes got were caused by the candles she liked to have around the house.
While those candles went into the trash, Alejandro — then 9 years old — started testing alternatives that would be healthy and environmentally friendly. The result was “Jurassic Orange,” a cedar-based, orange-scented candle “with full-bodied notes of bergamot and grapefruit fused with an herbal bouquet,” per its online store profile.
The candle was a hit with Alejandro’s mom, Patricia, so with her encouragement and assistance, he turned his candle-making into a full home business with online retail.
Smell of Love quickly outgrew the Buxtons’ kitchen, increasing its capacity from six candles at a time to around 200 with a move to the basement.
A visit by Vice President Kamala Harris at D.C.’s annual Downtown Holiday Market in December further boosted the business’ profile. With boxes of candles starting to crowd the house, it became clear that the basement would no longer be adequate.
In stepped Tysons Corner Center, which offered space for a production facility and a kiosk. This is the first time that the mall has leased to a kid, according to Tysons Corner Center General Manager Jesse Benites.
“Tysons Corner Center is thrilled to support entrepreneurs like Alejandro and his Smell of Love Candles business with this special opportunity to showcase their brand in one of the nation’s most popular shopping destinations,” Benites said in a press release. “…He will certainly inspire many budding kid entrepreneurs to follow their passion and believe where it might take them.”
Generally, juggling work and school has been “pretty simple,” Alejandro says, though it can be more difficult when he has an upcoming test.
However, with the Tysons production facility capable of making 600 candles at a time, Smell of Love is now hiring production team members, a marketing intern, and part-time sales associates to help run the kiosk, which will be open during mall hours.
“It’s a lot of candles to make,” Alejandro said “…So, we’re definitely hiring actually.”
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