What started as a joke is becoming a successful business for two men making and selling candles with some unconventional scents.
Started in 2013 by friends Jeff Bennett of Clarendon Hills and Ben Rakozy of Woodridge, the Stinky Candle Co. has about 30 candles now available, with another 10 expected to be added soon to the menu and more in the future. Each 2 ounce candle costs $7.99.
And while you will find not-so-uncommon blueberry and lemon-scented candles among the available fragrances, you’ll also find candles that smell like car exhaust (exhaust-ed), urine (rest stop), wet grass, and bacon.
“At first, it really was kind of a joke,” said Bennett, 52. “My wife and sister are really into candles, and I thought it would be a funny thing if they had candles with novelty smells, even something like a campfire.”
Bennett and Rakozy, 34, had discussed some type of side business; they both work full-time jobs in finance, but the joke of making candles that smelled very different from what typically is available continued for a couple of years.
“People started making suggestions as jokes, too,” Bennett said. “We knew we wanted to pursue something with this, but I wasn’t going to start a business based on fart candles. It became more of a ‘come for the urine, but stay for the baby powder.’”
With Rakozy as a friend and business partner, full support from his wife, Allison, and 250 different fragrance ideas, The Stinky Candle Co. was launched.
“Ben really did a great job with our website,” Bennett said. “We’ve had a lot of positive comments from people about that, and a first impression is so important, especially when you’re talking about urine and vomit.”
“I believe smells are really related to memory. Whatever the candle is, it has to go with the label.”
Rakozy agreed about how the smell process works with the candles.
“Usually, someone looks at the label to see what scent it is, opens it to smell it, and then it makes sense to them,” Rakozy said. “Knowing what it is first is important to really identify the scent. I think that’s true with most things.”
Rakozy and Bennett started making candles in Bennett’s garage, but found a more suitable space in Hinsdale, where they have continued. They recently made about 250 candles in about four hours.
“Making the candles is one part of it,” Bennett said. “We’re looking for a shipping partner. That part of the business also is very important.
Candles are available for purchase only on the business’s website but the partners have plans to change that.
“We’re looking into making them available at some stores and are looking first at some right in this area,” Bennett said. “I think people definitely would be interested in picking one of our candles up and smelling it right there in the store to see what it’s like.”
Bennett and Rakozy will continue to add new fragrances to their candle offerings, but some scents won’t be available forever.
“We’ll retire them; give them a headstone,” Bennett said. “We’ll also do some things in sets, a few different candles with different smells that all are part of a theme.”
Neither Bennett nor Rakozy have plans at this point to quit their day jobs, but that scenario is fine with both men.
“It’s a hobby,” Bennett said. “If we like it, and it’s fun, and makes people happy, that’s fine.”