Stacy McCowen started her small business, well, small. “When I first started making candles, everyone started calling me the ‘Candle Lady’, says McCowen. “But I wanted to be bigger so I became the Candle Queen.” Fifteen years later, this military wife and mother of five has grown her side hustle in to a full-fledged candle emporium in Leavenworth, the aptly-named Candle Queen Candles Gift Boutique.
We’ll say this about McCowen—not only is she ambitious, she also a crafty perfectionist, treating each one of her candle creations with affection. “My candles are all handmade, hand-poured and crafted with love,” says McCowen. “These are my babies.”
In her infancy, McCowen only had a few “flavors” from which to choose. These days, her candles have candles—even more if you count her seasonal fare. “I started with one and now I have over 100 flavors today in my store,” says McCowen. “I have many, many customers that have been with me since day one—since I was making them in my laundry room in our military quarters.” Today, business is booming. McCowen was recently named Kansas Retailer of the Year.
What’s flying off the shelves? Well, apparently in the land of candles, bigger is better. Or in this case, her behemoth three-wick jar candles. “Big mama is $85. Little mama is $58,” says McCowen. “I cannot keep them in stock.”
Over the years, McCowen has honed her craft and now that her shop runs like a well-oiled machine, she likes to experiment. “I really feel like I’m an artist—always tweaking, trying to perfect whatever I am pouring,” says McCowen. “Sometimes I use glitter or swirl colors. I even make an exclusive candle for Restoration Emporium on the Plaza and they call it Plaza Lights.”
When she’s not busy pouring candles, McCowen has found her calling in the realm of social media. You may as well call her the Social Media Queen as well. “From Facebook to Instagram to Snapchat, we post daily about new products and sales,” says McCowen.
If you’ve got time, swing by her Leavenworth boutique. (We did and it smells amazing!) Even better? Ask her for a tour of her newly renovated “Queenie’s Loft” above her shop. “We renovated the upstairs into an industrial loft. It turned out amazing,” says McCowen. “Original brick, original 165-year-old floors. Oh, and Abe Lincoln announced his run for presidency across the street from us.” And, yes Virginia—it’s available on Airbnb.
What’s her current fave scent? “Angel Wings was my favorite, but I’ve been burning it for 15 years. I like to change things up and try new scents,” says McCowen. “My favorite now is Teakwood Cardamom. It’s a guys’ scent—and do guys like candles! Once guys trigger their olfactory senses, they love candles. Many women send their men in to buy candles.”
Meanwhile, in the spirit of autumn, McCowen is pouring her famed Pumpkin Pecan candles as fast as she can. They’re a hot seller this time of year. May we suggest you get them before they’re gone? Her pint candles are only $16 and burn 100 hours. Feel free to order online as well.
“They aren’t just candles,” says McCowen. “When I say light up your life with a Candle Queen Candle, I mean it.”