Meet the Family Behind KarmaLit’s Custom Soy Candles

26 Jul

For the founders of the Colorado-based supplier, it was all about creating new family memories – centered around its sustainable, hand-poured candles, with a built-in educational giveback program.

By Nyah Marshall, ASI June 27, 2022

There’s probably only one thing that Golden State, Favorite Hoodie, String Lights, Book Club and Front Porch have in common: They’re all scented candles available from KarmaLit (asi/63906). For Sejal Parag – founder of the Colorado-based sustainable soy candle supplier – there’s a certain scent-attached memory that stimulated her idea for KarmaLit and its uniquely named premium candles.

When Sejal was a child, every evening around 5 o’clock her mother would light a candle while making dinner. As Sejal began having children of her own, those memories came flooding back, and she wanted to take advantage of the full-circle moment to create significant scent-attached memories with her own daughter.

However, the candles that Sejal and her husband, Ashil, lit in their home had to check off certain boxes. As young parents who at the time lived in San Francisco, it was important that these candles were inexpensive but premium, burned cleanly and were filled with passion.

“I thought, I have this memory from my childhood, I am now building new memories for our daughter, and I’d like to have this product, but it doesn’t exist,” Sejal says.

So, she created it – while pregnant with a son and taking care of a 1-year-old daughter – launching KarmaLit from the family home in 2014.

“KarmaLit was born from one necessity, but also a little bit of a closing the loop on where we were in the chapter of our lives and now building new memories with our children,” Ashil says.

As the company made its way onto Etsy and into trade shows, art shows and farmers markets, the Parags soon found an audience that more than resonated with their brand. At their very first art show, Sejal was working KarmaLit’s table for less than two hours before she had to call her husband to tell him to bring the rest of the candles from the studio because they were almost sold out.

“I thought to myself, there’s just absolutely no way. How was this possible? Did she forget 12 of the 13 boxes in the car?” Ashil recalls.

Soon, large orders and major brand partnerships began to roll in, and Sejal’s dream of recreating memories with eco-friendly soy candles became a reality.

“We thought to ourselves, OK, we’re really onto something here because we can actually provide a premium product that’s not a throwaway and that people can connect to,” Sejal says. “Candles are unique in that way. They connect with a massive and wide base of an audience, and it’s one of those products that everybody has a small memory of in some fashion.”

KarmaLit’s candles are also a hit with the promotional products industry. Top 40 Los Angeles-based distributor Nadel (asi/279600) works to deliver elevated experiences, and KarmaLit’s candles have been key to that strategy.

“KarmaLit have been a critical part of our team’s success as we lead with more retail-inspired gifts that go beyond the product,” says Carmela Wagner, vice president and global brand consultant at Nadel. “The support throughout the production process is excellent – truly, KarmaLit is a trusted partner that has elevated our offerings that differentiates us in the space of branded gifts.”

In the beginning, it was clear that several characteristics distinguished KarmaLit from other candle companies. It’s minority- and woman-owned and family operated. The candles are made from wax that’s extracted from soybeans grown year-round by American farmers, making it renewable and sustainable, according to the company website. The soy wax is hand-poured in small batches at KarmaLit’s studio in Denver. However, there were two more values the Parags felt were missing: philanthropy and education.

Prior to creating KarmaLit, Sejal worked for eight years planning events for an educational nonprofit. Plus, as new parents, the Parags were attuned to the state of early childhood education. Both experiences gave the couple insight into the ongoing need to fund the education system and individual classrooms. So, they created the “Smell Good. Do Good.” giveback initiative. For every candle sold, KarmaLit donates to education, using the Donors Choose platform to fund classroom projects.

“Our clients love knowing their gift has greater impact beyond the initial experience,” says Wagner.

That unique combination of bringing peace and comfort to the home, while also providing much-needed funding to schools, put KarmaLit in a bright spot during the dark days of the COVID-19 pandemic. The brand’s premium, inexpensive, eco-friendly candles were a simple investment that many people could make to uplift their space, during a time when it was essential to make your home feel like a sanctuary.

“All everybody wanted was to make something feel a little bit better because we were in such uncertain times,” Ashil says. “And, so the pandemic for us was, it was the stars aligning in a way that our product was well-equipped to take the punches of what society was giving to us.”

The small company has had growing pains, notably as the Parags moved operations from a corner in their kitchen to a studio in Denver while raising two children. But the family connection is essential to the company’s passion. Not only will the children have beautiful, scent-filled memories, but their memories will also be filled with appreciation for entrepreneurship – and all the triumphs and trials of owning a small business. The impact KarmaLit’s brand is making is a direct reflection of the impact the Parags are making in their own children’s’ lives.

“When the soul of a brand is in the right place, it can really thrive and uplift people’s lives and just be a positive agent for change in the world,” Ashil says.

If you are interested in these products to promote your own business, or if you wish to see some samples, email for information and pricing.

And as always, if you really want to do something sustainable, do not buy promotional products. All products are consumption at one level or another. So if you must buy, 1) Buy local (i.e. made in USA), 2) Buy useful, long lasting items, 3) Buy sustainable/recycled/recyclable products if possible.

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