By Wendy Sweeter
Jennifer Johnke and her husband, Del, spent 15 years making candles through their Johnke Farm Soy Candles business near Lennox.
Last month they officially sold the business to Melissa Johnson, who owns Oh My Cupcakes! in Sioux Falls. Johnson and Johnke had worked together a few years ago to make Oh My Cupcakes! scented candles.
“Jennifer has worked to create soy candles in some of our Oh My Cupcakes! flavors and so she and I worked together to come up with the right blends and things like that. We’ve carried that in our store for two and a half or three years now,” Johnson said.
While making specialty scents for Johnson was a first, Johnke learned how to make soy candles 15 years ago when her youngest child was born. Johnke started the soy candle business as a way to stay home with her children and have flexible hours.
She started selling Johnke Farm Soy Candles at trade shows and then boutiques and other stores. They also offered them to different groups within the Lennox School District to do fundraisers, as well as other schools.
Johnke had been thinking about selling the business for months. She is wrapping up classes so she can change careers and go into medical coding and billing. Johnson was the first person she thought of when contemplating selling the business.
“We knew that we were making some changes and needed to make some changes in our personal life and it was really important to us to see the business continue to grow and to stay local,” Johnke said. “So with that in mind, Melissa was the first person I thought of. She is such a go-getter. She’s a successful entrepreneur. We knew she would do great things with it. I’m really excited to see what she has in store for it.”
Johnson thought the candle business would be a good fit for her with her existing cupcake business.
“I have always admired how she has done business and when the opportunity presented itself, it really intrigued me. After some consideration and thought and prayer, I decided it was an avenue our company could go down,” Johnson said.
All of the equipment has been moved from Johnke’s farm to Johnson’s basement for now. The candle making operation will remain in her basement until she can find a better location to house it.
Johnson has been learning the process of making candles from Johnke during the past month.
“I’m optimistic with the way she has run her business. She has made it very simple and easy to take over,” Johnson said.
Johnson said the candle making business is similar to the baking business. She bakes cupcakes with love in small batches. She does the same with the candles. She also said things like humidity and air temperature make a difference in the outcome for both products.
“It definitely falls under the umbrella of the Oh My Cupcakes! family of brands. We are really looking at expanded lines. We just got our edible glitter, for instance, that is our brand, plus sprinkles and bake at home products,” Johnson said. “I think we can expand our lines where people can expect the same quality they can expect from Oh My Cupcakes!”
After much consideration, Johnson has renamed the candle business Sweet Cream Candle Company. She expects that some of the scents will be renamed as they go along with rebranding.
Johnke looks forward to changing career paths, but will miss the connections they have made and support of the local community.
“I have to say over the last 15 years the local community really supported us. We were blessed that all of our customers stayed with us,” Johnke said.
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