By Bethanie Hestermann
For Valencia and Elias Morr, creativity is a form of self-expression, and candle making provides that important outlet. The husband-and-wife team founded Peacesake Candles & Co., after realizing that a) most candles contain harmful ingredients, and b) they could do better. The couple develops unique scents (often inspired by travel, nature, and food) and hand pours their wonderful and natural soy wax candles. Peacesake also offers room and linen sprays made with phthalate-free fragrances, eco-friendly ingredients, and—as always—recyclable packaging!
These entrepreneurs find time to create together even while raising twin boys. (Hats off to you, Morrs!) Learn more about this creative candle-making couple in today’s Q&A.
Tell us about your shop!
When we started Peacesake, we had in mind a business that creates products that don’t end up in landfills. So, whatever we do, our main focus is using sustainable ingredients, trying as much as possible to use packaging and materials that are recyclable, eco-friendly, and also share our vision with customers by providing different ways to recycle and reuse our product.
What is the best part about what you create?
The best part about what we create is connecting with scents. Some scents just inspire you or bring on that comforting nostalgic feeling of something you love, your childhood, or a favorite experience.
Favorite song(s) for boosting creativity?
This is a tough one because ahh … there are so many, but some of the top favorites would have to be “Dorothy” by Polo & Pan, “Sapphire” by Bonobo, “Check The Rhyme” by Tribe Called Quest, and “Real Blues” by St. Germain.
How does creativity bring goodness to your life?
Creativity to us is a form of self-expression. We love coming up with new scents and developing new products, because we know a part of ourselves goes into each product we make, and it forces us to stay curious.
What inspires your scents?
We are nature fanatics, we love to travel, and we love trying different kinds of foods. We are so inspired by the places we’ve been, nature, and food, which all seem to play on the senses in such a really cool way.
We love how earth-friendly your shop is! Why was that important to you?
The environment and green living are so important to the both of us and because of this, we wanted to reflect that passion in our products and our shop. We both love plants, and our home is slowly turning into an indoor jungle as well as Peacesake’s warehouse, so it only made sense that our shop reflects this too.
What are you the most proud of?
We are most proud of our ability to recycle a significant portion of our products and materials. Before COVID, when we were attending local markets, we used to give customers $1 back for each candle jar they returned. This really took off with our customers, and we had so many people bringing back their used candle jars and boxes. We were super proud of this and its impact on reducing landfill waste.
What do people NOT know about what you do?
On the backend, we are both wearing a lot of different hats. Not only are we making candles, but Valencia is also doing the accounting, researching, and sourcing materials that are recyclable or biodegradable, plus scent development, while Eli handles marketing, researching shows and events to participate in, and working on graphic, website, and packaging design. The both of us cover production and making batches of candles and sprays as well as raising 3-year-old twin boys. Just writing all that down seems like a lot, but we honestly love it and are very grateful to do something we love.
What made you decide to open a shop?
We love candles as you can see, but it wasn’t until after learning about some of the harmful ingredients that we started making our own candles. Valencia, who had previously taken a candle-making workshop back in 2011, started to make candles at home in our kitchen. We started sourcing and using clean ingredients like lead-free cotton core wicks and 100% soy wax, as well as blends of natural essential oils and phthalate-free fragrances.
We made multiple batches of candles, testing them for burn quality and their ability to emit scents and fill the room. Eli took a small batch of the tester candles to his job and, surprisingly, there were a lot of people that wanted to buy them. Eli came home and said “Babes, I think we should sell these candles,” so we made another batch, Eli took them to his job, and they literally all sold out. We were super excited and decided to take a chance on our candles. We launched Peacesake in 2016 in Valencia’s mom’s backyard with all of our closest friends and family and have continued to grow Peacesake ever since.
You’re a husband-and-wife team! How do you balance business and family life?
We like to think Peacesake is an extension of our home and family, and so we often take our 3-year-old twin boys with us to the warehouse to ship orders, make products, and of course they like to help us smell test!
We often take turns at the warehouse, where one of us will stay home with our boys and the other will go to the warehouse. We definitely make time for family during the work week and on weekends—whether it’s a family hike at the park, longboarding behind our warehouse, or movie and popcorn night, because for us it’s so important to have that time together.
What did 2020 teach you about your creative selves?
I think 2020 taught us just how much creativity can be a survival skill. We had to be resourceful, trust ourselves in a lot of different ways we hadn’t needed to before, and it also made us appreciate what we have.
Do you have any daily rituals?
Yes, we have breakfast every day all together at the table as a family, and every weekend we go together as a family to Merkle Wildlife Sanctuary, which is just by the Patuxent River. The boys love the open space to run and see so many wild animals and insects. Fridays are pancake days, and Valencia likes to burn candles in the kitchen while cooking.
Tell us about your studio space. What type of environment do you work best in?
Our studio space is about 900 square feet, and when you first walk in, you will be greeted by plants of course in the walk-in area. Once you get into the actual studio, even more plants greet you along with a large wood and steel rectangular table built by Eli with a branded Peacesake stamp in the middle of the table.
We have a couple of racks that house our inventory and our large wax melter and amber jars of fragrance blends and cardboard boxes full of wax. We also have the blue hangout couch and chill chairs to take breaks and relax. Honestly, our space sort of mimics our home with a workshop feel. I think we work best in an environment that has a ton of plants and feels like home.
All of your candles are hand-poured! Do you guys have any help fulfilling orders?
Not yet, it’s just us. Before COVID-19, we were thinking 2020 would be the year to hire someone to work with us in fulfilling orders, but we have a good feeling about 2021, and the plan is definitely to hire our first full-time employee.
Do you have a favorite product of all time?
Eli’s favorite Peacesake product of all time is our “White lavender” candle. Valencia’s is the “California Redwood”.
What are some small shops that inspire YOU?
Follow along with Peacesake Candles & Co. on Instagram @peacesakecandle!