‘Snarky, kind of rude humor’

Rude Candle Co. is a new and locally-based company whose owners set no limits on where their business can take them. Their environmentally-friendly soy candles have undergone trial and error since they opened in January this year.

Their candles have fun, descriptive labels showing the owners’ sarcastic yet relatable humor, such as: “A candle for college bars smells like fake ID’s, hormones and pretending the seats aren’t sticky,” according to their website.

Chelsea Whitney and Ileia McCall both grew up in the Pullman area and became best friends in high school. McCall moved back from London three years ago and the two friends reconnected, spending time together consistently ever since.

The business wasn’t a serious idea at first, but with constant conversation about it, they came to realize that their dream could become a reality, Whitney said.

“It started as a joke, we were just talking about what different things smell like: family reunions smell like potlucks and awkward hugs,” Whitney said. “We just thought people would appreciate the snarky, kind of rude humor.”

Once they settled on the idea of candle making, they tested various types of waxes, oils and smells. Their candles not only have witty labels but also all-natural, unique smells, McCall said.

She said they first used beeswax, but soon decided soy matched their values better by being environmentally-friendly and healthier. Soy was also easier to manage, and the scents were much stronger.

Whitney said there are many technicalities and important details to learn in order to produce high-quality candles. This led to them experimenting and watching a fair number of YouTube videos.

They’re both professional business owners, but as co-owners and best friends, their quirky yet savvy personalities shine through in the work they produce, McCall said.

“We tend to be really on it with customers by being really polite and welcoming, which I think is part of our personalities,” McCall said. “But also, we’re kind of sarcastic and rude. This business gives us a chance to say it how we really think it.”

In addition to Rude Candle Co., McCall maintains a portrait photography business and Whitney manages a salon in downtown Pullman.

Together, they come up with ideas that will promote their businesses. They call these ideas “rounds,” so their candle business is like round three.

“Sometimes, we will see good ideas and be like ‘oh, that’s round 87,’ and just keep going. It’s the right mindset for growing.” McCall said. “We work a lot and work pretty hard, apparently it’s addicting. We just like growing businesses.”

They consider themselves “doers,” Whitney said. Together, with a group of local women who run their own businesses, they share ideas amongst each other.

Even their logo stamped on their products is local. The image is a woodprint designed by a University of Idaho art student who cuts wood with a chainsaw, torches it and stamps the wood onto paper, then digitizes it, Whitney said.

They discovered the artist through social media after going through multiple ideas and struggling at first, Whitney said.

Their husbands, who are best friends, craft and cut the wooden tops that cover the candles. Their children get to help, and all of them enjoy spending a majority of their time working together as a family and a team, Whitney said.

Although Rude Candle Co. is fairly new, they managed to get a spot in the Mom’s Weekend Arts and Crafts Fair right before the application closed. They look forward to seeing people react to their work, as they have not yet opened a store, McCall said.

McCall and Whitney’s business continues to expand with more companies buying their candles to sell in-store nationwide.

“We love all of the stuff that we do,” McCall said. “That may be something that develops when you own your own business because you get to pick and choose what you’re saying yes to; this is something that’s super fun [and] makes us laugh.”

Their work can be found online or at the Mom’s Weekend Arts and Crafts Fair from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. today and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday in Beasley Coliseum.