Yankee Candle is one of our favourite brands here at Love Aroma, combining a wonderful collection of high-quality scents with affordability, sustainability and quality. Yankee Candle is the world’s most bought scented candle, and it’s easy to see why. That’s why we thought we’d tell you a little bit more about Yankee; how they started all those years ago, how they work, and why they’re so great at what they do.
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Mike Kittredge II is the founder of Yankee, and the global establishment started when he was just 16 at Christmas, 1969. When desperately grasping for ideas for his mother’s Christmas present and with no money to speak of, he took a few crayons, a milk can and a wick from another candle that was already lying around the house and made his very first multi-coloured candle. Before he could present this to his mother however, there was a fortunate twist in the tale. A visitor to the house liked the candle so much that they bought it from Mike, and with the money he bought some paraffin and made another two candles bundled into milk cans. One went to his mother, and the other was sold on again. Over the next four years, the candle-making had turned into a one-man business and Mike was busily making as many candles as he could in his parents’ garage. After they kicked him out (or, as he puts it, ‘not-so-gently urged’), he expanded into a former paper mill in sunny Massachusetts. He would spend the morning making more candles, the afternoon visiting various gift shops and stores, and the evening wrapping the candles he’d made that morning. Of course, Mike wasn’t completely alone in the work he was doing. Two old school friends, Donald MacIver and Susan Obremski, helped with the work, and it was Obremski who proved to be particularly useful.
Two inventions by Obremski helped Yankee Candle along the way enormously; the first was a heated room, which saved costs in wax production enormously due to the delivery of liquid as opposed to solid wax at the factory, and the second was a turntable wheel that automated an essential part of the manufacturing process and so cut a cost of labour across the whole factory.
Busy Mike and his friends spent the next few years working in the paper mill day and night, and by Christmas 1982, they had slowly built their way up to 30 workers in all three floors of the paper mill, and had their first retail store down on the bottom floor. However, with no space to grow and in the middle of the city, Yankee was moved twenty miles north into the country. Their new factory opened in December 1983, and the headquarters has stayed there ever since. There have been a few changes since then, though. Yankee Candle now operates over 500 stores just in the U.S., and has many more worldwide. The growth of Yankee Candle in the UK has been assisted by independent retailers such as Love Aroma, and the company is now so successful that they even operate a museum about the history of Yankee Candle in Massachusetts.
Since 1983, there have been a few changes to the way Yankee does business. No company is immune to the changes that success brings, and recently Yankee was bought by private equity company Madison Dearbourne Partners in 2007. Since then, it has been sold for $1.75 billion to the Jarden Corporation (a Fortune 500 company) in 2013.
The success of Yankee Candle is one of those quintessential American dream stories that are so popular in modern times. Starting out as a Christmas gift, a few friends with a few innovations and a lot of hard work, the company has grown and grown until it’s become the worldwide success story it is today. Few people can fault the work of Yankee Candle, but it hasn’t been without controversy. In 1998 the company was embroiled in an influential court case against the New England Candle Company that essentially set in stone a small portion of a U.S. bill that asserts a shop within a mall is not a building within its own right. The court case was opened by Yankee because a store opened by the rival candle company looked very similar to one of their own. Although the court did rule that the stores were similar in structure, because Yankee’s store was in a mall (and so they did not construct the building and were not the ‘authors’ of the store), the New England company was allowed to continue to operate their competitive business.
Recently and to our utter delight, Yankee have started making and marketing new, limited-edition candles that have sold (and occasionally smelt) like hot cakes. One example from the range we have here at Love Aroma is the always popular Cranberry Pear candle, which is filled with bright, natural and well-rounded scents of – unsurprisingly – pear and cranberry. There’s also a little hit of cinnamon thrown into the candle, which ties the whole bouquet together wonderfully and brings the natural scents to life. Another favourite of ours from Yankee’s limited edition range is their Easter Bunny Cake candle. Here, you can really see in the colour and the smell that they must have had a lot of fun making it – it’s a bright, loud, sugary, excitable, singular candle that celebrates Easter like little else can.
With so much on offer from Yankee, we’re very pleased to be working with them and to bring you the very best deals we can straight from the States. Yankee is a very special company and has brought the world of candle making and scent to many people who otherwise wouldn’t have had the chance. And to just think, it all started with that neighbour back in 1969 asking after Mike’s crayon-coloured candle. Happy Yankees shopping, here at Love Aroma.