Last week, I had pleasure of visiting Jake Carnley at his space at the Lebanon Arts District in Opelika, Alabama to see and hear a little more about his candle-making business: Great Bear Wax Co. Jake pours all of the candles himself in Opelika, and they look and smell amazing. I so enjoyed hearing more about how he got started and where he is heading. Let me just tell you – he is about to be big. Get your candles now! I am so excited about the future of Great Bear and so grateful to know Jake.
How did you get started making candles?
JAKE: The idea to start making candles is one that I had about 3 years ago. I bought a very expensive candle and instantly thought that I could make a product like that. I’ve always loved candles and the vibes that they add to a room. Most of my favorite memories are marked by scent so creating a product that could potentially mark a memory for someone has always excited me!
What has been your favorite moment of Great Bear Wax Co. so far?
JAKE: My favorite moments are when folks contact me and tell me that they want a product because it was on someone’s Christmas list, or they want a product because someone asked for it for their birthday. I love when my candles are gifted, and it means a whole lot that folks want these products!
(side note: I know I’m not the only person who struggles with gifts for guys – this is perfect for them. Graduation presents, birthday presents, or just because. But really, anyone and everyone will love the Great Bear unique scents and appealing branding.)
Describe your life in three words.
JAKE: Adventure, Community, Cookies.
Your last meal would be:
JAKE: Hands down my mothers chicken and dumplings and a Terrapin Rye Pale Ale. Then chocolate chip cookies. That’s an easy question!
Your perfect Sunday:
JAKE: To wake up in the woods and build a fire and spend the day hiking. And it would be nice to be enjoying creation with my buds! Then I would drive back into town and randomly run into Garth Brooks in the organic section at Kroger. This would be the best Sunday.
If you could have coffee with anyone, it would be:
JAKE: My best bud Allen Smith. He is one of my favorite people on the whole planet, and I’ve been really missing him a whole lot lately. He and his wife live in Birmingham so I suppose I could make that happen.
Your theme song:
JAKE: Hmmm this is hard. Maybe Roving Gambler? We can work it out by The Beatles? Possibly Easy Hearts by Whiskeytown?
The best advice you’ve ever received:
JAKE: “Jake, it’s a lot easier to steer a moving car.” I hit a time in my life where I felt stuck. My folks had just divorced, I was in a relationship that ended, had just left Auburn University and had no idea what the next year of my life would hold. I was scared and insecure but knew I needed to just walk and that my path would be made clear. 4 months later I started Great Bear.
I sure am glad he decided to start Great Bear. I have been burning my Tobacco Bay candle constantly since last week, and I’m already trying to decide which one to buy next (I’m thinking Patchouli Jasmine). Check Jake out on his website, Twitter, and Instagram (and also this cool feature in Paste with a video explaining more of Jake’s vision), and help support Jake and his awesome company by trying out a candle (or two).
photos by both Annie Reeves & McKenzie Strawn