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Making the Hill Country’s Magic Come to Life — Mother-Daughter Team’s Canyon Candle Co. is a Texas Original

When a Little Candle Means a Lot

BY // 08.03.20

Take a drive four hours west, past Austin and through the Hill Country, and you’ll eventually stumble upon Utopia– a small Texas town situated on the banks of the Sabinal River in Uvalde County. You won’t come across much life in Utopia. Its population measures in at a mere 241 people.

One thing you will find in Utopia are jaw-dropping vistas, mystical night skies and expansive green spaces that put Houston and Dallas’ city streets to shame.

That’s also where you’ll find Houston natives Stacey and Libby Manela, a loving mother-daughter duo working away at their co-owned small business dubbed Canyon Candle Co.

If you’re unfamiliar with Canyon Candle.,here’s a quick lesson on the company’s signature scents. There is Hill Country Rain (the most popular), Agarita Spring, Ranch Water and Yellow Rose. This is a small Texas brand showcasing sweet Texas smells. You know, the signature scents you can’t quite describe but know deep within your soul?

I’ll never forget the first time I came across a Canyon Candle. I was browsing at Sawyer Yards’ Second Saturdays when I nonchalantly stopped by Canyon Candle’s stand, picked up one of the candles on display and breathed in its fresh scent. My eyes widened as I was transported back to cherished summers spent at camp on the Guadalupe River.

This simple candle had seemingly captured something no one else had – not just a scent, but a memory. And that’s precisely what the Manelas were going for with their candles. The Hill Country has become a place of respite for them as well.

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Stacey and Libby Manela 2
The Manelas path to becoming candlemakers has become a cherished journey.

Stacey and Libby Manela’s Utopian adventure began several years ago when Stacey purchased an old, outdated ‘70s home “on a whim” so she could have a place to escape her busy life here in Houston.

“I bought (the home) kind of sight unseen. I had seen it online and it was just a really crappy cabin, and by crappy, I mean really gross,” Stacey Manela tells PaperCity.

When she drove out to see what her spontaneous purchase had landed her, she did indeed find a home in much need of TLC. But she also discovered a glorious landscape blanketed by a humbling starry sky.

“It’s hard to find a piece of the sky out here that does not have a star in it – and it put me on my ass,” Stacey Manela says. “And so that was what started it.”

Well that and the night-blooming jasmine. And the rain (that distinctive Hill Country rain) that this mother and daughter quickly became so fond of.

“(The rain) comes across the canyon, and there’s that really cool smell,” Stacey says. “We get sad when we’re in Houston and we look online and find out it’s raining in Utopia, because it’s some of the best times. It’s just a weird feeling. It’s magical”

The Complete Canyon Candle Package

Stacey and Libby have spent two years testing and perfecting their business, working tirelessly to artfully craft their experiences into premium candles, which are made with high quality waxes and feature unique X-wicks that create exciting flickers and pops. Some of the candles are even paired with Spotify playlists so you can fully capitalize on your chill time.

But there’s a catch.

The Manelas are particular about where they sell. They want their sellers and buyers to know the stories and understand what they’re getting. So for now, you can only get Canyon Candles through their website or at local markets once COVID has fizzled out.

As you explore their website, you’ll see that each candle is accompanied by some sort of story or written piece. These are written by Libby. They’re funny, witty and reflective.

When you see the Manelas at local markets though (like at Second Saturdays), you get to delight in the whole package – Stacey, Libby, the story behind each candle, why they do what they do, and why they love what they do. The markets are where they thrive.

“Half the fun is being in a relationship with somebody that takes a little piece of you home with them, and you know, somewhere out there, you’re giving somebody a little bit of satisfaction, relief, respite – whatever it is,” Stacey Manela says.

Especially now in these coronavirus times, when the stresses of the world weigh so heavily on so many, Canyon Candle Co. aims to provide an escape.

“Now that people are home, they want to make their home a nicer place that they enjoy, so our business has just gone crazy. Because a little thing like a candle can make their day different,” Stacey says.

Canyon Candle Co. has customers across Texas — and even some from as faraway as Florida and California. Sometimes, a little thing can mean a lot.

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