When the pandemic hit, Mexico City transplant Belen Avalos and her husband Gustavo Villegas, who grew up in Cuernavaca, lost their jobs as restaurant servers.
“We had to figure out how to make money another way,” says Avalos — and fast, since it was anyone’s guess how long restaurants would be shut down. Gustavo’s Edina-based mother, Ester, made soy candles as a hobby, and taught the couple everything she knew. “We spent three months finding the perfect recipe for a candle that would smell well, fill the room, and burn evenly,” says Avalos, who launched Wax Up Soy Candles in May 2020.
The 🤚🌀 logo was Villegas’ idea. “He always felt a connection with the symbol of the healing hand,” says Avalos. “What it represents — evolution, progress, and protection — really stood out for us.”
Wax Up candles come in four sizes: 7.5 and 12 oz glass jars ($15-$25), 3 oz. metal tins ($10), and the packs of miniature wax melts ($10) you see pictured above. The scents range from the sweet and familiar (apple cinnamon, vanilla, lavender) to brighter, more savory combos such as melon and cucumber or basil, sage, and mint. There’s also citronella to chase away the skeeters and breezy, tropical coconut for an instant vacation.
Of special note: the couple’s silky-smooth bars of goat’s milk soap for $5 a pop. Our favorite is the Oatmeal Honey, but even the cheekily named Nightclub Guy smells more like squeaky-fresh gentleman than Axe body spray.
Avalos and Villegas have both returned to the restaurant industry, but they’re keeping up their side hustle. You can find Wax Up’s products at the The Shops at West End in St. Louis Park, online at waxupcandles.com, or for sale at special events and festivals.