By Jennifer Pund
Kim Vessy-Landowski had been making scented candles for years, but when she began making lotion candles as a way to comfort her mother, she ended up stumbling onto a new business venture. Her experiments with various concoctions to help with her mom’s chronically cold and cracked feet, ended up leading to friends who wanted the soothing candles, too. Then friends of friends wanted them, leading to the birth of Summit Lotion Candles, which she sells from her Gift Mine store in Georgetown, online and at markets.
The Colorado native moved to Georgetown about three years ago, following her dream to live in the mountains. She grew up in Golden and raised her two children in Littleton. “I always wanted to live in the mountains, and when I sent my last one off to college, I skipped up here,” she explained. “I got an apartment and started this, which has been pretty good.”
Vessy-Landowski operates the Gift Mine, 511 Taos St., but its main products are the more than 25 different scents of Summit Lotion Candles. It’s also where she makes them. “I didn’t expect the candles to become so popular. The Gift Mine [name] was great just because we are in a mining town, and it was catchy and cute.” she explained. “We do carry some other things like aspen tree candle holders and the Stink Face, but the store is the Gift Mine, and we carry Summit Lotion Candles.”
Even though Vessy-Landowski had been making candles for decades, it wasn’t until she began searching for some sort of relief for her mother, that she found a combination of ingredients that have ultimately made her lotion candles so popular.
“I’ve made candles for 20 years, but these are due to my dear recently departed mother. She had rheumatoid arthritis and was arthritic. Her heels were always cracking, so I played around with the recipe a little bit. I made them for her,” Vessy-Landowski said. “I just wanted a quality product that provided comfort for her.”
Summit Lotion Candles are made entirely out of lotion. They are hand-made in small batches from 100 percent natural Shea and coco butters and soy-based ingredients without alcohol, chemicals, petroleum by-products or artificial additives. “It’s really good for arthritic people. Her feet were always cold, she’s a diabetic and she absolutely loved these.”
Once her mother began sharing the lotion candles with her friends, they started placing orders. “It’s always been just a side hobby, but when I started making the ones for my mom, that’s when all her friends wanted them, and then all their friends wanted them,” she said. “They just were so popular. I thought, maybe I’m on to something.”
Summit Lotion Candles are said to relieve stress while softening the skin. Just light the lotion candle and wait for the oils to pool and the lotion to warm. Extinguish the flame and enjoy the lotion as a massage oil, to soften cuticles, or reduce roughness on elbows and heels.
According to Vessy-Landowski, what makes Summit Lotion Candles different is there is no alcohol in the product. “They are made out of organic cocoa butter and Shea butter. But the key is there is no alcohol in them. Alcohol actually dries your skin out, and everybody puts alcohol in lotions,” she explained. “You can leave it lit all day, or you can light it before you use it. A lot of people like to light it before getting into the shower or bath and have warm lotion when they get out.”
The lotion itself is remarkable, but it’s the 25 different scents that took Vessey-Landowski the longest to perfect. “I am so particular about that. I think that’s what took me the longest getting started, because I had to mix and match a few things. I love scented candles. I love scents. I think they have taken off so well is because of the scents. I have a really good nose, and I’m just a perfectionist with the scents. I don’t want to put something out there that’s not right.”
Her most popular scents are Lemongrass Sage, White Tea Ginger and Honey Apple. “Those are the three consistent ones that people absolutely love, but they all smell delicious,” she said. Other scents include Cucumber Melon, Bay Rum, Lavender, Mountain Pine, Lylac, Sandalwood, Lemon Verbena, Vanilla and many more. There is also a Bug-Off for summer months and Colorado Christmas, which can be purchased around the holiday.
To start her business, Vessey-Landowski joined forces with her long-time friend Chuck Tippins, who sells the candles at shows across the state and also lives in Georgetown. “We are childhood friends. We have known each other since we were five years old when lived on the next street from each other. We pulled our kindergarten sleeping mats next to each other,” she said. “I’m the only one that makes the candles. He is a teacher up at the [Georgetown] school and does the shows in the summer.”
Summit Lotion Candles takes wholesale orders and has merchants all over the country sell them. They can also be purchased online for $15.99 a candle at summitcandles.com. According to Vessey-Landowski, people buy them for a variety of reasons. “I have one lady whose husband was severely burned all over his body. She comes in for six [candles] a month. It’s the only thing that soothes him and makes him feel good, which made me feel good too.”
511 Taos St.,
Georgetown, CO 80444
© Originally published in the June 2017 issue of the MMAC Monthly