The History of Yankee Candle
A True American Success Story
Yankee Candle started in the most humble of circumstances. Founder Mike Kittredge described it in his own words:
“It all started in December 1969. I was sixteen, and had a big problem; just days remained before Christmas, and I was broke. While considering my options for Mom’s gift, inspiration struck. I gathered my childhood crayons and found an empty quart milk container. I melted them in a pot on the kitchen stove, poured the hot liquid into the carton and added a wick “borrowed” from a candle in our dining room. The broken bits of wax from that ill-fated dinner candle went into the milk carton as well. Several hours later, my first candle sat proudly on the kitchen table.
A visiting neighbour admired it and asked me, (to my astonishment), if I’d sell it to her. I did for $1.36, and instantly spent the proceeds on a box of proper paraffin at the local grocer’s. Thus armed, I made two more milk-carton candles, sold one and gave one to my Mom for Christmas. Again I reinvested my profits in more wax. Friends and neighbours enjoyed my simple candles and continued to purchase them as swiftly as my family could drink quarts of milk and orange juice!
By 1973 my hobby had turned into a one-man business. Blocks of wax and boxes of finished candles nearly filled my parents cellar and garage. At their not-so-gentle urging I moved my operation into a former paper mill in nearby Holyoke, Massachusetts. For the next year or so, I worked alone. I would pour candles in the morning, then change into my sales clothes for an afternoon of sales calls on gift shops. That night would often see me finishing and wrapping the morning’s production.
Eventually I could afford to hire help, and by 1982 the Yankee Candle Company employed over thirty workers. We occupied all three floors of the mill and had no room to grow. Our first-floor retail store was catching on, but the inner-city location made it difficult for customers to find us. It was time to seek greener pastures.
In August 1983 we broke ground in rural South Deerfield, Massachusetts, twenty miles to the north. Our new 1,600 square foot factory store opened in November, with our factory slated for start-up three months later. Worries about moving to the country were quickly put to rest, our ten-space retail parking lot overflowed with customers on our first day! And to think, it all started with a gift for my Mom…”
Yankee Candles headquarters remains in their birthplace: Massachusetts, USA, and have over 500 company-owned retail stores throughout the United States alone. With over 150 fragrances of candle, passion is the driving force behind the brand.
There’s a reason Yankee have become so successful throughout the world, and it’s a simple one: their passion for the highest quality of fragrance. Yankee’s craftsmanship is passed down through their generations of chandlers (candle makers) as part of their heritage, who continue to create the highest quality product, as well as rigorously test and review any fragrance that passes their noses.
Yankee Candle also has a long-standing commitment to sustainability, promoting socially responsible practises to ensure that their candles can continue to be enjoyed for generations to come.
Whether reeds, car fragrances or elegant candles in glass jars, there is a style, and a fragrance for everyone. Yankee continue to release more products and more fragrances. So why not become a part of the phenomenon and let a little more light into your world!