Creating a Sustainable Candle Business with Love and Grace

iffany Gammell started Candle Damsel to help grieve her grandmother. Her story is all heart.

A Mississippi girl with a love for the arts, Tiffany "Tippy" Gammell can’t remember a time when she wasn’t connected to creativity, either as a champion for other young people’s talents or by her own performances on stage. She moved to Charleston, got married, and took a job at College of Charleston. When the pandemic hit, her grandmother had a stroke. So Tiffany returned home to help “her best friend” live out the last of her days at home.

“She was a typical Southern grandmother. She grew blue magnolias in the front yard and pink hydrangeas in the back. She had all her milk glass on display, crystal pieces from the 50’s and 60’s, and a vintage teacup collection that we grew together. I would send her a new piece each year on her birthday.”

Back to Charleston, in a creative lull with a pandemic raging around her, Tiffany had a hard time coping with her grief so she started going antique shopping. Whether she realized it or not, she was trying to hold onto the spirit of her grandmother, one purchase at a time. 

“I am a glass-collecting nerd,” Tiffany admits. She already had a burgeoning collection in her china cabinet. “I have always enjoyed finding a piece of glassware and figuring out its history. The oldest I own is an early American pressed glass from the 1890s.” As she amassed more pieces, she started to wonder what she was going to do with them. “I married two things I like to do a lot and came up with a sustainable approach to candles. After all, you can only put Q-Tips in so many things! Now you can reuse something beautiful by adding it to a dining table or a mantle piece, and give it a new life.”

Tiffany spent a good eight months testing candles to make sure they burned right, and used clean, non-toxic ingredients. She created a line of signature scents, mindful that some customers would prefer unscented. She found the glass vessels that had been around forever were made really well and could easily support a pour of wax. “I only work with a certain thickness of glass. I do not want to ruin someone’s heirloom.” To date, Tiffany is happy to report she has never broken anything she has worked with.

When she was finally ready to launch her business in 2021, Tiffany came up with the name Candle Damsel to pay homage to all owners of candles. “I thought the name was cute and classy, like my grandmother.” She announced her website on Instagram and sold all her inventory within 24 hours. She credits the strong and supportive Charleston maker community for helping her find her footing, directing her to the right markets to sell her wares, and spreading the word. “It’s a tight-knit group of women, creating their own brands due to the rich maker culture here.”

Two and a half years later, Candle Damsel is burning bright. Tiffany has a solid collection of premade candles housed in the pieces she sources and offers refills too. She has helped brides curate candles and scents for their receptions, and happily repurpose heirlooms, recalling a recent customer who was cleaning out the home of a relative who had passed and came back with glassware. “She is giving all her family members candles for Christmas.” She also offers private classes, where she comes to your home and guests can pick out their own scents and vessels. “I have done ‘friendsgivings’ and wedding brunches.”

Tiffany sources her vessels from all over. If I have a trip planned, I tack on a couple of days to hunt.” This fall, she headed to Paris, Champagne, and the Loire Valley. I can’t wait to see what she has to offer us from her finds there and I bet you can’t either! 

“I have always enjoyed finding a piece of glassware and figuring out its history. The oldest I own is an early American pressed glass from the 1890s.” - Tiffany Gammell

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