Interview with Affton Coffelt of Broken Top Candle Company

Affton Coffelt of Broken Top Candle Co. | Wren and Wild in Bend OR

We love natural products that are safe, effective, and leave you looking and feeling your best. And when those products are made locally with entirely plant-based ingredients safe for you and your home – even better!

This week on the blog we’re highlighting another lovely local maker who shares our passion for providing plant-based products to our community and beyond. Affton Coffelt is the founder and creative force behind Broken Top Candle Company, a Bend based home decor and beauty company offering a wide line of vegan products, from slow-burning soy candles to hydrating body lotions. We chatted with Affton ahead of our First Friday event featuring Broken Top Candle Company on June 1st about her burgeoning company, the clean beauty business and the importance of never staying static. Read on for more!

Broken Top’s candles have the distinction of being made from soy. Can you tell us a bit about soy candles, and what about soy gives your candles that extra something special?

The soy candle craze is nothing new, but certainly now there is a better understanding of the material and other materials that are put into candles. Traditional candles were made from fatty waxes like beeswax, which is amazing, but hard to scent and quick to burn. Later came paraffin wax, which increased burn times and allowed for better scenting options, but – and this is a big but – is majorly toxic. Enter soy. Soy burns beautifully slow, holds fragrance, and does not emit that nasty black soot like those toxic paraffin buggers.

Choosing to use soy wax was a no brainer for our company. We knew we wanted a product that we could ethically stand behind and sell to our friends, family, and community. As great as soy is, I would be lying if I said working with the wax is easy. The manufacturing of soy candles is much more difficult than paraffin and shipping the final product (especially in the summer months) is another huge disadvantage. To us, these are minor irritants that in the big picture, are worth the headache. We hope our customers enjoy the “low and slow” benefits as much as we do!

Why are clean beauty and home products important to you?

When I first started Broken Top, the passions behind the clean elements were nothing compared to what they are now. The industry created the passion and the vision for what I wanted the brand and products to represent.

Knowing some of the major goals for the company allowed me to start researching similar products and dive into the mindset of the buyers. Why were they buying the products they were? What made them want it? Price? Packaging? Ingredients? Research led me to candle companies labeling their candles as “soy blend”. This term has become a thorn in my side. Artisan lines that were boasting soy candles were actually using a blend of paraffin and soy to create these misleading products. There are no legal requirements in the candle industry as far as labeling and ingredients disclaimers; only warning labels are required by law. I am on a personal mission now to educate and call these companies out on their false advertising. Everyone has the right to know what is in the products they are buying, and I feel most companies will exploit these loopholes in order to capitalize on marketing, all for a dollar.

This was really the start behind the clean beauty revolution within the company, and I strongly encourage anyone reading to pay attention to that term when buying a candle… “soy blend” means run!

We can’t wait to try your new line of roll-on perfumes. What was the inspiration behind this extension of your company?

I can’t even tell you where I pulled this one out of. I think the idea was put in motion by my travels. I found myself trying to be more and more crafty with packing light and being on the go. I have bought more roll-ons over the last year to take on the road than I had in my entire life! I guess it just seemed natural!

What are a few of your favorite self care practices?

I am a coconut oil JUNKIE! I absolutely love using it is as a moisturizer before bed and tend to make it my go to mom-move on any dry or irritated little body parts. With three kids and a fast-growing business, my personal care regiments are very streamline and kind of on the back burner most days, but I always find time to hydrate my dry Central Oregon skin. I use our Saguaro Cactus body lotion every day (it is my favorite scent in the world) from head to toe.

Ten years ago, where did you think you’d be now?

Living like Little House on the Prairie! Ten years ago, I had a one-year old daughter, and my husband and I had agreed that we were going to have lots of babies and I was going to be a stay at home mom on a little farm with chickens, a garden, and homemade bread daily. Man, how that has changed! We had a few babies, 5 chickens, and the garden is just a giant patch of raspberries! I am still a pretty kick ass mom, but the daily logistics are nothing like I imagined they would be and that is absolutely for the better as I am way too wild and creative to fill that role.

What’s the next thing you’d like to scratch off your bucket list?

My bucket list changes daily and most are directed (at least right now) towards business goals. NYNOW was a bucket list item of mine for a year, and I made that happen in January. Getting into Urban Outfitters is another big goal that we have softly accomplished as we launch into their garden stores called “Terrain” this month (baby steps). Aside from massive sales goals and product placement in stores, I would say the launch of a different/additional brand is my next step forward. Something a little more fun and whimsical. I have a lot in the works and a zillion ideas, stay tuned!

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever gotten?

“Never let your business be static”. I didn’t fully understand the meaning of this in the beginning, but this small sentence has had a major impact on how I run my company. Always forward think. Always plan, and never assume that the sales will just come. This can also be applied to products. We have amazing things happening in the brand, but what is happening behind closed doors is much more massive than what most people realize in terms of the products we are testing and the adjustments we are making to current products. This statement is the base of what we believe in, and keeps us progressive and relevant in today’s beauty and home décor industries.

How do you think your best friends would describe you?

Crappy and forgetful. Just kidding! Probably crazy. Busy. I don’t like to make decisions outside of business and am very passive aggressive. I am usually the boldest person in a small crowd, not shy, and never hold a grudge. My sister is my absolute best friend, but I know a ton of people nationwide that I stay connected with (when I have time). She would also say that my disorganization and lack of planning things drives her crazy, but I am her favorite Friday lunch date and the best Prosecco drinking companion on Earth!

We’ve loved watching Broken Top expand from candles and home products to vegan lotions and perfumes. Can you share anything else you’re working on right now, or what awesomeness we can expect from BT in the future?

The possibilities are endless, and I definitely have my hands in a few things right now, some of which are related to BT, some that will be totally unrelated. The idea of being a serial entrepreneur is intriguing to me. Products seem to be my forte and launching one brand is no different than launching multiple brands.

I am currently working on a very high-end candle line that will be focused on retailers like Neiman Marcus. The concept behind this brand will be geared towards packaging over product ingredients (although the ingredients will be the same as our current products), just way different fragrance themes.

My other idea is still super top secret as it is totally unrelated to what we are currently doing. You will have to stay tuned for this one!

We definitely will, Affton!

Come meet Affton and check out her gorgeous candles from Broken Top Candle Company at our First Friday event on Friday, June 1!