Coal and Canary

Maker Spotlight: Coal and Canary

Read on to learn more about Amanda Buhse and Tom Jansen, co-owners of Coal and Canary, based in Canada.


getting started in candle making

It all started as a hobby (like so many good things do!). Tom was in nursing school, and Amanda was a graphic designer. They were best friends, but their busy schedules weren’t allowing them to see each other as much as they wanted to.

Tom got into candle making, and was quite fantastic at it, but he needed Amanda’s help with the design and marketing aspects.  Actually, it was all just an excuse so they could hang out together more (be careful what you wish for!).

After quite a bit of research (a whole bunch to be exact), they discovered there was a gap in the market for quality, hand-made candles that catered to the hip, young, millennial, professional woman. 

Being the young, hip creatives that they are, Amanda and Tom also realized the importance of social media – their Instagram following is pretty impressive!  It was through social media that quickly led to stores requesting to place wholesale orders. 

At the time, they weren’t quite sure what they were doing when it came to wholesale, but like most entrepreneurs they ran with it anyway, and of course used Google…….  a lot! 

Their first wholesale order of twelve candles was cause for celebration as they thought they had made it… Amanda and Tom took all of the profit and spent it on champagne!

They then made the decision to try getting their products into the Grammy and Oscars Awards gift bags and low and behold, they did it. The exposure launched Coal and Canary to the next level.


why use wooden wicks?

While perusing Instagram they noticed a lot of design driven companies in Australia are using wooden wicks (we have also taken note of the impressive design and talent in Australia right now). 

Amanda and Tom decided to make the shift to wooden wicks since there weren’t many companies in Canada using them. 

They love the unique look and of course the awesome crackling sound! The wooden wicks are a big selling point for Coal and Canary.


milestone moment

Grammy gift bags!! They received a phone call from Beyoncé’s hair-dresser wanting to carry the candles in his salon (it’s all about the exposure isn’t it!). 

Tom & Amanda are so proud of what they have been able to do together… making big connections, getting in celebrity gift bags in only the first two and a half years, and to top it off, are in over 250 stores in Canada and the United States.


the next goal for their candle business

Tom and Amanda would like to get into some national retailers and expand more into the United States. Oh, and of course keep making really great, design driven candles with attention to impeccable craftsmanship!


small businesses they admire

Tom and Amanda love Hedley & Bennett, a very cool apron company based in Los Angeles. Hedley & Bennett was started by a woman in the food industry, who realized there were no cute aprons in the marketplace.  Her business has skyrocketed. Tom and Amanda love the fun office structure and aspire to be like them culture-wise.


the meaning behind the name

Coal and Canary refers to the coal miners that used to take canaries into the mines to warn about danger in the air quality. Coal and Canary’s candles improve the air, so thankfully, the cute little canary survives!


one last word...

Being the savvy entrepreneurs they are, Tom and Amanda realized from day one that they needed to make social media a priority.  They knew Instagram was the perfect marketing tool for Coal and Canary and their demographic. 

They have put tremendous effort into their Instagram account and strive to make their feed as cohesive as possible to keep a specific design style.  It is absolutely mandatory to keep the tone fun and make customers feel like they know the people who made their candle.

Interested in starting your own candle making business? Check out candle making business series to learn everything you need to know to launch a successful candle biz.

We love sharing your creations! Don’t forget to share your creations and tag @makesy on Instagram or Facebook for the chance to be featured!

Photo credit: Vai Yu Law

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