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Grandma’s house when you were younger. A freshly picked homegrown tomato. That boutique hotel where you stayed on your favorite vacation.

Particular smells are instantly transportive, summoning places and memories often long-forgotten. This element is something St. Louisan Natalie Van Hee set out to pursue, and she started Glow Candle Co. in 2014 in hopes of re-creating some of her favorite and most nostalgic scents.

She had been working for a large company that downsized, and she found herself at a crossroads.

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“I’ve always worked for someone,” she says. “I was at a point where instead of pursuing someone else’s passions, I wanted to do something I was interested in and could grow.”

Van Hee didn’t have a particular path in mind at first. She was a few months away from getting married and spent some time contemplating her passions. After she and her husband got married and did some traveling, an idea sparked. On returning home from different places, Van Hee found herself searching for fragrances she had encountered along the way to help reminisce about her travels. She would find herself gravitating toward particular scents depending on what was going on in her life at the time. Thus, she began experimenting with creating candles of her own, wanting to capture memories in their scents.

It wasn’t easy, though.

“I can’t say I had a background in making candles,” she says with a laugh. “I figured it out after testing, research and plenty of trial and error.”

From the get-go, however, Van Hee knew going the all-natural route was important to her. She was disheartened about the number of companies that use an array of additives and chemicals, so she stayed away from them. In Glow Candle Co. candles, she uses soy wax from American-grown soybeans, cotton wicks, premium-grade fragrance oils and no dyes. The candles burn for 70 hours and are nontoxic.

Her current line features two collections: the classic collection and the holiday collection. The classic collection consists of scents including Van Hee’s favorite – white tea – along with heirloom tomato, arugula, Himalayan pomegranate and more.

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“White tea is my favorite because it reminds me of my favorite hotels when we were in Kauai,” she says. “I searched for a long time to try to find the right combination of fragrance oils for it. It’s a clean, refreshing fragrance, and I have it burning 24/7.”

The holiday collection brings the smells of the season with fragrances like pumpkin spice, white pine and aspen embers. One of her holiday best-sellers is called The Saint Nic, and Van Hee says she started pouring them in June in preparation for the holiday season.

She also speaks fondly of more unique-sounding scents like the heirloom tomato candle. She says she has a customer who often buys it for its nostalgia factor.

“His family owned and ran a tomato farm growing up, so you can tell the fragrance is very nostalgic to him,” she says. “I really enjoy seeing customers connect with a fragrance.”

Right now, Van Hee is in the midst of the holiday season – a busy time for her business. She’s been running operations from her home since its inception but hopes to find a small storefront to work out of in the future. Her gift boxes for wrapping up the candles recently debuted, as well, adding another angle of beauty to her creations.

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“I have put a lot of time and focus into creating packaging that is classic, clean, can fit into anyone’s home, yet does not go unnoticed,” she says. “All of my labeling includes some type of pressed gold foil. The boxes I’m introducing in November will be perfect for holiday gifting and feature the same pressed-gold foil elements.”

Glow Candle Co. candles are available on her website for $30, with select bundles available at discounted rates. Area residents can also find her products locally at The Rusted Chandelier, Paisley Boutique, The Gifted Gardener, Mister Guy Women’s, Klutch, Mary Tuttle’s Floral and Gifts, Buoyant Float Spa, There She Goes and Gin & Kin.

In each candle she pours, Van Hee strives to have each customer connect with a scent.

“Each candle purchased should connect consumers with an experience, person or place,” she says. “Whether it be something from their past or a new fragrance they can’t get enough of … this is really important for me and is a big part of what keeps me inspired.”

Glow Candle Co., glowcandleco.com

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Robyn is LN's digital editor and a staff writer. Proud alumna of Notre Dame High School in St. Louis and Eastern Illinois University. Avid coffee drinker, dog lover, concertgoer and word nerd.