Welcome to Frances & Louise Candle Co.
If you haven’t noticed, we’re all about stories here, so it seems only fitting to tell you a little bit about mine.
I’m Carolyn. The candle-pourer, labeler, creator, shipper, mom, wife, social worker and story-teller behind Frances and Louise Candle Co. I’m a homesteading wannabe and aspiring extrovert that loves old sad country songs, my creamer with a little coffee and reality TV (the complete garbage kind).
I’m the 2nd oldest with three brothers and better parents than I could ask for. My story starts in Hinckley, an old farming community with a population of 2,000. I grew up in what was commonly referred to as the ‘Biehl House.’ It was an old house with creaky floors, the original dumbwaiter and a Victorian twist doorbell – which is still one of my favorite sounds.
When I was in junior high, we moved a mile into the country after my parents built a house on our centennial 120-acre family farm. The farm has been in my maternal grandfather’s (Bompa’s) family since 1872 – this is a photo of him with his parents (my great-grandparents) Elmer and Elsie. Growing up I was never far from some type of animal. We had horses, a mischievous pony, donkies, sweet porch cats, a pot-bellied pig, a rabbit, chinchilla, dogs and an occasional litter of Welsh corgis that my mom bred.
After graduating high school I did a year of community college before transferring to Southern Illinois University where I met this guy- my husband, Erik. (Sometimes you actually do find love in a bar!) I transferred to a smaller school back home (going from a graduating class of 52 to a lecture hall of 400 was quite a culture shock) and finished my bachelors degree in Social Work and then got my masters degree in Social Work.
Erik and I moved into a sweet little 900 square foot starter home and dated for seven years before getting married in 2018. He's my sounding board for everything in life and is the gatekeeper for all potential candle scents. But if it was up to him, everything would be lemon. A couple weeks before our first wedding anniversary we found out that I was pregnant. After being told that our first stop would be a fertility clinic when it came time to think about babies, we couldn't be more overjoyed to learn about this sweet miracle. 9 months later, we welcomed our son, Tucker.
From soap making to furniture re-finishing, I’ve always had some type of creative outlet throughout my life and love anything that’s old, dusty and has history (thanks, mom!).
And let's be real. Alot of people can make stuff. But it's the stuff that's truly made with heart and passion that always made me feel fulfilled as a creator. Patching nail holes, repairing dresser drawers and painting furntiure just wasn't doing it anymore.
My family are my people and I wanted to find a way to morph this part of my life into something creative. One day I was sitting at the kitchen table with my husband eating gyros and had an idea. “What do you think about me making candles, but making each one tell a story from my family history?” Like he usually does with all my crazy ideas, he looked at me adoringly and just said “sure, do it!” Reason #458934596869022 why he’s my favorite, in addition to making me laugh – all the time.
Then I had to think of a name for all of this. That inspiration is right here. My maternal grandmothers - Leona Frances and Myrtle Louise.
See, when it came to finding the inspiration and stories for my candles, these ladies were already 10 steps ahead of me. My grandmother Louise (who may as well be considered a genealogist) has autobiographies and life stories of my ancestors dating all the way back to the 1800s. She typed them all on her typewriter and put them in a 3-ring binder with a color-coordinating tab for each last name lineage. I have the copy she gave to my dad. My grandmother Frances loved photographs and left thousands of precious memories in the form of photo albums. (Can anyone else agree that there's no smell that compares to an old photo album?)
My grandma Louise and I at the dinner table going through her genealogy binder
(with her post-dinner cup of decaf coffee of course)
My grandma Frances in one of her favorite forms - photographs.
And here we are. After six months of testing (candles are the ugly kind of experiments that include equations and formulas), days spent getting lost in family history, shedding a few reminiscent tears, and not without uncovering a few family secrets - there’s no place I’d rather be. Honoring, sharing, and preserving the stories of those who came before me. All of our candles are intentionally created and handmade 100% by me. Poured in the basement of the 1-acre slice of country paradise I share with my husband, son and dog. These candles and stories bring such joy to my life and I feel so blessed to be the vessel that these stories are passed through.
But I can't be the only one! I hope that these stories inspire you to pursue and preserve your own family history. Write it down, interview a family member, record a video, and take thousands of photos that will tell your story someday.
Generations to come will thank you – trust me.