Making a Difference Locally

    Pittsburgh Candle Works

    Jenni Ingram’s mission has always been to make a house a home. Whether she’s pouring candles by hand, providing support for the homeless, or teaching others how to make an old piece of furniture feel new, Ingram is a maker who’s dedicated to giving everyone around her a way to feel a sense of home. Her newest venture, Pittsburgh Candle Works, boasts a collection of candles using materials sourced in the U.S. and an attention to detail that values rich scents and thoughtful packaging highlighting the city of Pittsburgh. In less than a year’s time, Ingram has grown PCW into a successful business that cares about quality and community.

    The biggest successes often come from the simplest beginnings, and PCW is no exception. As 2018 was coming to a close, Ingram was working part time at Eleven Eleven Gifts in Evans City. The shop was given a box of vintage mason jars that she promptly decided to turn into candles for the holiday season. The candles were a huge hit with customers and quickly sold out.

    That was enough to set Ingram down the path of creating her own business. Ingram spent the next seven months creating the PCW brand. Using her basement as a home studio, she set to work hand-pouring candles with with wax sourced from American-grown soybeans, 100 percent phthalate-free fragrance oils, and cotton wicks and glass jars made in the U.S. She launched her first collection in August 2019, which featured scents like creme brulee, autumn harvest, and banana nut bread.

    Pittsburgh Candle Works

    “Candle making is a saturated industry,” says Ingram, who knew that starting a small-batch candle company in a city full of makers meant she needed to have a product that would stand out. That’s when Ingram made the decision to collaborate with local artists to produce candles that not only smelled great but also gave people something beautiful to look at. Pittsburgh native Shelbey Tharpe is the artist behind PCW’s seasonal collections and the popular Pittsburgh Collection, which features candles with names like Yinzer, Yellow Bridges, and Good Neighbor. The collection contains a variety of candles celebrating the region with simple ink drawings of the Strip District, our famous skyline, and the city’s bridges. Later this year, PCW will be collaborating with Luke Hillegas, graphic designer and owner of Rusty Dog Studio, to create a new series of designs for upcoming collections.

    Ingram is a lifelong maker who started woodworking at a young age alongside her grandfather. In 2003, after going to school for engineering and becoming a stay-at-home mom, Ingram began restoring the mishmash of furniture and decor that she had accumulated in her own home. She created Roots and Wings Furniture to showcase her own creations and to teach others how to bring beauty into their homes with limited resources. Pittsburgh Candle Works, even in its infancy, is already dedicated to the idea of everyone being able to have a place they call home. That’s why one dollar from every candle sold goes directly to Light of Life Rescue Mission, a nonprofit charity that provides recovery, food, and shelter for Pittsburgh’s poor and homeless. Ingram believes that “whether it’s through DIY or candles, supporting those who are less fortunate and don’t even have a home is a simple way we can give back to our community.”

    Pittsburgh Candle Works

    As a Pittsburgh transplant who has created a life here with her family, Ingram has found the city’s “maker movement” to be supportive and vibrant. Her success has made it clear that local artisans love to support fellow entrepreneurs. Ingram says that other makers in the area value collaboration over competition and offer a lot of support to one another. Ingram has loved getting to work with so many different local shops that now carry her products.

    PCW’s newest collection has just been launched. The Spring Collection features brand-new scent profiles and original art. Some of the scents available include Rosemary & Sage, Spring Cleaning, Rain Drops on Roses, Sparkling Grapefruit, and Sweet Ginger Peach. PCW’s products can be found online at pittsburghcandleworks.com as well as at several small shops throughout the region, such as The Gather Shop in Sewickley, Stray Cat Studio in Beaver Falls, and In The Kitchen in the Strip District.

    Julianna Bagwell is a regional freelance writer and food and canine enthusiast. You can follow her on Twitter @JuliannaLocal or contact her via about.me/juliannabagwell.
    Photos courtesy Pittsburgh Candle Works