Candles are a common shelf item in most stores, but when you see John Mark Candles, they are not made by a big chain or some generic company. These candles are the result of extensive research, and the desire by a high school student to be the best he can be and produce the best product he can produce.
John-Mark Roller, says when he was 17yrs old his candlemaking business started with a career interest survey he was given at Wall High School when Roller was a junior. The survey had close to 100 questions about jobs that might be of interest to him, and, at the time, he had been thinking about getting a summer job.
Many of the jobs he wasn't interested in, he says, and the ones he was interested in, he couldn't physically do. John-Mark, born with Spina Bifida, has used a wheelchair since he was a toddler.
I felt very discouraged and wondered what I could do to make extra money besides folding laundry for my mom.
Getting Started with Blueberry Cobbler
John-Mark's dad, Mack Roller, was in Oklahoma visiting family with his sister Brenda, (John-Mark's aunt) and the two started brainstorming, John-Mark says.
After spotting a candlemaking kit online, dad Roller called John-Mark and asked if that was something he wanted to try. John-Mark said he'd try it, his dad bought the starter kit, they made a batch of candles, and the rest is history.
"I loved it," John-Mark says. "We made a batch of the Blueberry Cobbler fragrance and it was incredible! After making it I said, 'I can DO this!' so the Blueberry Cobbler has become my signature candle."
He says he and his dad talked about this being a possible career choice, and John-Mark says he knew it was. "It is fun, exciting, interesting, adventurous, but most of all . . . something I can do that I really enjoy."
"Some of my friends have jobs and, yes, they are making money, but they don't like their jobs. I am happy that I don't feel that way," he adds.
After making it I said, 'I can DO this!' so the Blueberry Cobbler has become my signature candle.
Before Lighting the First Candle
Before starting his line of candles and launching the business in 2009, John-Mark spent several months researching the things that make a great candle. He and his parents, as well as his Aunt Brenda, studied different jars, wicks, waxes, dyes, fragrances and candle suppliers. They met with various companies and individuals for ideas that worked and to learn about those that didn't, and sent out surveys asking for consumer input.
After the research phase, John-Mark started on the testing phase, where he tried all kinds of wicks, waxes, fragrances, containers and dye colors.
"One day we made over 60 candles to "test" and kept cards on each one as we observed it burning," Roller says.
"The goal was to make a clean burning candle with little mushrooming of the wick, a strong scent from start to finish, an even burn from start to finish, and little or no wax left when the candle was gone," he points out.