Kontagious Candles; Kris Gray business

One of Kris Gray’s homemade candles for Kontagious Candles. The company name replaced a C with a K for her name.

Kris Gray

One of Kris Gray’s homemade candles for Kontagious Candles. The company name replaced a C with a K for her name.

Ben Iampieri, Reporter

     Kris Gray, North Harford freshman, has started a candle business over quarantine.

     “I was extremely bored doing the same activities everyday. Then, I looked around my room and saw that there were candles everywhere,” Gray starts. “I’ve always loved fragrance and smelling good so I thought, ‘Well, I should make my own candles.’”

     Making candles started out as a hobby, “It’s my hub for relaxation. I listen to music and just try to vibe,” she says. But then Gray’s dad had the idea of turning the candle-making into a company.

     At first, she “struggled with staying organized and creating a consistent product,” and “almost gave up at one point because [she] couldn’t seem to make a good-smelling candle.” But after some research, she is “at the point where [she] has regular costumers, great candles, and a consistent profit,” according to Gray.

     “I get everything from CandleScience. It is a website where I get all my ingredients and materials,” Gray says. “They have videos and tutorials that answer every question you could have about the candle making process.

     Starting a business may appear overwhelming for a teenager, and Gray thought so too. “Now, it’s not a big deal because I have improved my time management. I cut out procrastinating and I organized my day from most important to least important,” Gray explains. “[One] sacrifice I had to make was that I can’t participate in school sports because then I wouldn’t have the time to focus on my business. I still will be a part of clubs and community activities though.”

     One of the problems Gray ran into when starting was not researching candles. “In the past, I started out with lots of baseless ambitions and was being a little too creative. My entire process was creative which was the problem. I did not conduct any research on candle making and the results were insufficient,” she says. “I realized because I’m not a candle expert, I should just stick to what I’ve learned from other companies and organizations that specialize in candle making completely. Especially because it is a product that I’m selling to customers and they should be able to rely on the results consistently. So, whenever I try to tackle a different jar or fragrance, I make sure I research it so that I can get the best result.”

     As for making the candles, Gray only uses two ingredients: soy wax, and fragrance oils. “First, I heat the wax in a double-boiler which is just a metal pitcher inside a pot of boiling water. I stir the wax until it melts into a liquid. When it hits 185 degrees Fahrenheit, that’s when I take the pitcher out of the pot and add the fragrance oils. After that, I wait for the wax to cool to 135 degrees and that’s when I pour it into the jars. But before that, I prepare the jars by disinfecting them with a wipe,” she explains. “Second, I attach the wick to the bottom of the jar with a wick sticker. Then, I pour the wax into the jar. After a couple hours, it should be solid, and that’s when I trim the wick.”