Flicker of Genius: Laura Cler

Laura Cler of Linnea’s Lights earns a nod from Martha Stewart with her hand-poured, small-batch soy candles.

Research proves that scent is one of the strongest memory triggers. That’s what Laura Cler is banking on. To wit: a family boating excursion in the south of France resulted in the creation of a sea salt–scented candle, popular with her Linnea’s Lights customers on the East and West coasts.

The company has grown steadily since 2005, when Cler’s mother began selling her candles at markets and antiques fairs. The clean burn—all wax, no soot—attracted a fan base that now includes Rachael Ray and Gwyneth Paltrow, and Linnea’s Lights earned a finalist spot in the 2015 Martha Stewart’s American Made Awards.

At peak times, Cler’s crew crafts 350 candles a day at the Carmel production facility—yet every step of the process is still performed by hand. Soy granules arrive in 50-pound bags, and it takes two days of melting, fragrance-adding, cooling, curing, wick-trimming, and jar-polishing before a candle is ready to slide into a kraft-paper canister. Cler doesn’t mind that the process keeps the company small. “Our goal isn’t to be on every shelf in every store and every town,” she says. “We want to partner with smaller boutiques that appreciate the artisanal aspects of candle-making.”

The Process

(1) As soy wax melts, it binds with essential oils. The exact temperature is a secret—the result gives the candles their clean burn.

(2) After a few hours of mixing, scented wax is hand-poured into double-wick, barware-grade jars. Candles cure for 48 hours.


(3) Each wick is trimmed by hand, then candles are re-melted to smooth the surface. The jars are polished to a high gloss.


(4) Eric Kass of Indy-based branding company Funnel designed the logo and label with gold script to evoke Old World packaging.


(5) Bestselling scents like grapefruit and cashmere are sold at Haus Love,
Addendum, Five Thirty Home, and Oliver’s Twist.


Buy It

Double-wick candle, $34, linneaslights.com and local stores.