Pretty Honest Candles founder Andrea Richter turned a crafty hobby into a flourishing business.
by Jennings Cool
Last year, after being unexpectedly laid off from her job as a social-media manager, push came to shove for Andrea Richter. “I was scrambling on what to do,” Richter says, echoing a sentiment familiar to many during the pandemic. After considering different career paths, she quickly landed on an unexpected one — one that involved turning her part-time hobby into a full-time gig.
“I have always been a crafty person. I also always loved candles and wondered what went into making them,” says Richter, who began making candles for fun in 2017. While working full time after earning an MBA from Wingate University, Richter occasionally sold her candles at pop-up events and online at prettyhonestshop.com.
Richter spent several years perfecting her scents. Her candles are made using soy wax and fragrance oils that are free of phthalates (chemicals commonly used in plastics and personal-care products), resulting in a biodegradable product with a clean, slow burn.
“Making candles was never something I wanted to make a business out of, but I just needed something physical to do,” Richter says. But in April 2020, she decided to turn her hobby into a full-blown business. Soon afterward, shoutouts on BuzzFeed, Apartment Therapy and Travel Noire made Pretty Honest Candles a viral sensation.
“It just kind of went nuts,” Richter says. She turned her house into a warehouse, where Richter processed and packed orders. Boxes piled up in her family room, and her kitchen became her workspace. After a few months, Richter decided it was time to take permanent steps to grow the business.
“I have had to let go of the expectations I had for the corporate life,” Richter says. “I had to accept that this is how I was supposed to move forward.” In August, she moved the business out of her home and into an official warehouse, adding four employees to support daily operations. Best-selling scents include Lemon Lavender, Fresh Coffee, Honeysuckle Jasmine, and Green Tea & Lemongrass. Richter has also developed an online candle quiz for indecisive customers to see which scent might be their best fit.
Since day one, the business has not slowed down, according to Richter.
“It’s been an insane, wild ride,” she says.
SP Mother’s Day pick: Pastel Spring candle bundle: choose (2) from Rain Water, Sea Salt & Orchid, Orange Blossom and Pineapple Sage ($42 + shipping); prettyhonestshop.com