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Penn State Student Bringing Unique, Luxurious Twist To Candle Business

When it comes to candles, most people are likely used to the basic, generic-smelling ones you’d find at your local boutique. However, one Penn State student is changing that by putting her own creative touch on her candles.

Kelsey Lauer, a sophomore majoring in advertising, started her own candle-making business, “Clove and Sprig,” last semester.

Lauer sells luxury, handcrafted candles that burn for up to 70 hours at an affordable price for college students. Compared to retail candles, Clove and Sprig’s seasonal candles are equipped with wooden wicks that allow for a much more powerful scent and are topped with unique, eye-pleasing decorations.

“Yes, you can buy a candle at Target for $8, but those typically only last a week and are basic, boring scents most of the time,” Lauer said. “My candles offer both a visual experience with the decorative toppings, as well as a sound experience with the crackling sound from the wooden wick. Clove and Sprig candles offer more bang for a college kid’s buck.”

The scents of Lauer’s candles include French lilac, lavender, and even lemon pound cake. Currently, Lauer is selling five different scented candles, and each goes for $20 a pop.

Courtesy of Kelsey Lauer

Her motivation to create the business all started with an entrepreneurship class she took last semester. In the class, students were required to start a business and work at making a profit of at least $300 throughout the whole semester. Luckily for Lauer, this went way better than anticipated. She called the class “the push” she needed to launch her business.

For Lauer, the key to starting a business was trying to find an issue and then coming up with a solution for the problem. With a lack of quality, affordable candles on the market, Lauer decided to make candles that aren’t only creative but also affordable for college students.

“If you take the class, don’t make a product you think will sell easily,” she said. “Find a problem and solve it.”

When she first started the business, Lauer’s family and friends were her primary customers. Then, once her business started to grow, her sales started to grow, too.

Courtesy of Kelsey Lauer

Lauer asked her professor to write a letter of recommendation for an internship, and in the same conversation, he advised her to look into the Summer Founders Program.

The program provides mentorship and resources for early-stage startups so they can advance their ventures and funding. Upon further thinking and research, Lauer decided to apply just to see what would happen.

“I wasn’t expecting anything to come out of it, but it was all because of the encouragement and push given to me by my professor, Brad,” Lauer said.

To her surprise, she ended up getting an interview with the program. Then, shortly after, she was welcomed to the program. Lauer was one of six start-up businesses invited to the 13-week, boot-camp-like program.

The Summer Founders Program supplies full funding for the students and their start-up businesses. Additionally, students meet with coaches once a week to share their successes and challenges and see where their businesses can improve. Students are given 24/7 access to the LaunchBox in the Eric J. Barron Innovation Hub Building, too. Students involved in the program also get the opportunity to interact with one another and bounce ideas off each other.

“The perks [of the program] are amazing, and this truly is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” she said.

Now in the thick of the program, Lauer explained that it was daunting at first. Entering such a significant and prestigious program was intimidating, but she’s already starting to see it pay off.

“Going into it, I was a little intimidated at first, but after meeting the people, I realized how down to earth and kind everyone is, and all that stress went away,” Lauer said. “The process has been very eye-opening for sure. The program will give me time to sit down and experiment with where I want to go with my business next. From the beginning to now, it’s crazy how far I was able to get.”

Once her business expands further, Lauer hopes to get her products into local boutiques in State College and to use Etsy as a second form of income. Additionally, she hopes to expand to other areas and produce soaps and other boutique items.

Lauer is currently working on launching new candles for the upcoming seasons, including a summer collection coming out in early June and a Christmas collection that includes alcoholic drinks and cookie scents.

You can check out Clove and Sprig on Etsy to get a closer look at Lauer’s unique candles.

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About the Author

Evan Halfen

Evan Halfen is a junior broadcast journalism major from Newark, DE, and is one of Onward State's associate editors. Evan loves all things Penn State, tailgating, being loud, just about any beach, and his puppies, Butterscotch and Wentzy. You can direct all your tips, roasts, and jokes to his Instagram: @evan.halfen or email: [email protected]

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