Like any budding businesswomen, small-batch candle makers Hayley Elisabeth Kaufman and Whitney Huhmann have settled into a work routine.
Kaufman will pick a tarot card before they melt wax, while Huhmann performs reiki over a pile of clear quartz crystals. Trap music blasts through their Greenpoint studio as they meditate and focus on what energy the candle they are about to pour will bring. This happens on the night of every new and full moon.
“We’re harnessing the [moon’s] energy,” says Kaufman, 37, co-founder of candle company the Sphinx and the Priestess. Those lunar powers and the duo’s incantations help make candles that Kaufman and Huhmann, 35, say help customers gain clarity, love, jobs and whatever else they’re hoping will come their way.
The duo, who share studio space with a group of jewelers and a woman who makes high-end tie-dyed garments, are part of a growing group of Brooklyn entrepreneurs creating offbeat, whimsical alternatives to big-brand beauty and home products — backed with a spiritual aspect.
“We’re really cognizant of how we’re feeling inside when we have a pour scheduled,” says Kaufman. “Sometimes we’ll completely [skip] a pour because we’re not feeling a vibe.”
They were supposed to pour candles soon after the presidential election, for example, but were so “decimated” by the result that they canceled it. They resumed the following moon, once their moods had lifted.
The two Clinton Hill residents met while working for branding giant Starworks Group, and connected over their love for tarot and crystals. They sold their first candle a year ago, and now pour around 100 per moon cycle to sell online and in shops such as CAP Beauty. They count Kate Hudson, Joan Jett and Amy Schumer as fans.
There are four varieties, each $44 per 12 oz. candle: the Lovers, for manifesting attraction and sexual energy; Pentacles, for prosperity and grounding; the Star, for meditation and inspiration; and best seller Death, for transformation and renewal.
The candles are designed based on the Table of Correspondences, a sort of farmer’s almanac for the occult, which combines elements of tarot, astrology, alchemy and kabala and lists the scent, stone, musical note, color and other elements associated with each type of energy.
But don’t expect to hear brooding tunes or haunting chants blasting in their studio. “Instead of listening to Enya, we listen to a lot of hip-hop, a lot of really high-energy music like A$AP Rocky [and] Young Thug,” says Kaufman. “We swear the candles turn out better when we listen to them,” adds Huhmann.
To the untrained eye, the end result looks no different from other high-end options. But Kaufman claims that customers often report back with glowing stories she can only chalk up to the candles’ powers.
“This woman [lit] her Lovers candle before she went to a party, and she had such an epic make-out session, she talked about how she got beard-burn,” from the guy she was with, says Kaufman.
The candles have worked their magic on their makers, too. “Sometimes I struggle with living in New York, so I burn Death to push through it and transition to another phase where I’m at peace again,” says Huhmann.
But the two caution that the candles magnify energy that the user may not expect. “I started burning the Lovers candle, which I don’t really use a lot, and I had every ex-boyfriend call me or e-mail me or get in touch in such a short amount of time,” says Kaufman.
“We tell [customers] to be careful what they wish for.”
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