Portia Pascuzzo is the founder of The Wax Witch Candle Co., a new line of locally made soy candles infused with bewitching fragrances – like tobacco, vanilla and clementine – as well as other magick-al properties.
Find out more about the story behind the candles by reading our short interview with the Wax Witch herself below…
First of all, please introduce yourself to our Scout readers. Who are you and what do you do?
I’ve always been a deeply introverted person and I think this quality has really helped to fuel my creative passions. In addition to making candles, I like to paint, write, illustrate, string beads on wire, play guitar, garden, arrange flowers, and build things out of clay, all the while drawing inspiration from the natural world.
Born and raised in Northwestern, Ontario, I grew up with The Great Canadian shield in my bones. Back then it wasn’t uncommon for me to go out and collect pine cones or leaves from the forest floor and conjure up some kind of incantation. Nowadays, in the bustle of the city, I still try to tap into these childlike imaginings, especially while I am creating. That’s one of the reasons I love making candles so much.
Personally, I discovered the Wax Witch Candle Co. on the shelf at Dachi’s new restaurant-adjacent retail space, Mucker Next Door – your first stockist! But, as you’ve told me, your connection with the restaurant industry goes way back and even helped with the actualization of this project…Can you please elaborate?
As an artist, working in restaurants has always been one of the more accommodating ways to keep at my craft with a roof over my head.
I can’t remember how I started making candles, but I know it began some time in December of 2019 when I decided to give them as gifts for friends. I really enjoyed the process. One day I brought a few early editions into Chambar Restaurant, where I was working at the time. Word got around quickly and soon everyone was buying my candles, especially the cooks in the kitchen. It was then I knew this could be something more than just a hobby.
There are so many awesome candles and candlemakers out there right now, but clearly the demand remains high! Why do you think that candles continue to resonate with people and what do you think sets the Wax Witch Candle Co. apart from the rest?
You’re right, there’s such an overwhelming abundance of candles out there in every shape, colour, fragrance, size, and wax variety, how does one even choose? I think what sets my candles apart is that I’ve always tried to make them with intention in mind.
Ritual plays a key role in our day-to-day lives, and most of the self soothing practices we have for ourselves are in some say ritualistic. Whether drawing a bath at the end of a long day, cleaning the home, entertaining, meditating, preparing for bed – when we add candles to the mix it can really energize the space, generate ambience, and heighten our connection with ourselves and others.
If someone desires to rub out bad vibes, seek greater clarity, harken their inner idol, cast new meaning, or release that which no longer serves them, there can be a special ritual for that. I make small batch soy candles for the new age practitioner, psychic healer, palm reader, day dreamer, star gazer, spell raiser, and magick lover in us all.
“When I got older I think the superstitious tendencies I had inherited in my youth made their way into my adult life. All at once I could burn whatever I wanted and delve fearlessly into the occult. This liberating sense of blending the old with the new, the practical with the supernatural, eventually showed up in wax form, making my candles the enchanting little objects that they are today.”
Please tell me about a personal winter and/or holiday ritual that you have. What are its origins and what significance does it have for you?
Christmas winters in Ontario were very much like postcards. I remember how quiet everything used to be when it was covered in falling snow. My father would often build fires in the evening and my sister and I would sit around the hearth warming our wet socks and frozen toes.
I think being raised in this kind of winter gave me a special appreciation for the charming property of fire. The closest I can get these days is the Yuletide log on the television, but even then, hearing the gentle crackle and pop of burning wood is enough to transport me back to memories of home during the holidays.
Personally, I absolutely love how each of the candles in your collection are inspired by and include a different spell. Where does your interest in magick come from and how has it evolved over time?
Growing up in a religious household, there were many things our parents forbade us to do, but lighting fires and practicing magick were pretty high on their list. When I got older I think the superstitious tendencies I had inherited in my youth made their way into my adult life. All at once I could burn whatever I wanted and delve fearlessly into the occult. This liberating sense of blending the old with the new, the practical with the supernatural, eventually showed up in wax form, making my candles the enchanting little objects that they are today.
I’m sure that I don’t need to tell you how triggering scents are. What is your most memorable scent and what experience does it remind you of?
Isn’t it clever the way scent finds its way into the parts of the brain responsible for our most formative experiences? More than any other sense, smell has the greatest capacity for transcendence. I have a candle called Déjà Vu born out of that same idea. The notes are of harvest apple, spicy cinnamon, and warm vanilla. It’s a lot like the fresh baked pie my mother used to make – an aroma I’ve always associated with the tenderness of my childhood.
I know that you’re currently in holiday hustle mode but, when the dust (or wax?) has settled, what can we expect from the Wax Witch Candle Co. in 2022?
Next year I’d love to introduce my candles to some more stores. There are so many great places in Vancouver to buy beautiful, locally made products. I am so grateful to Mucker Next Door for being my first stockist and for supporting me in this stage of my business. Since the Wax Witch Candle Co. is still very much in its infancy, there’s still so much I need to do. A website is on its way with an online store, but for now people can find me on Instagram @thewaxwitchcandleco.
I’m looking forward to 2022; every season and holiday provides the opportunity to bring new concepts to life. Hopefully more people will get the chance to take my candles home because who wouldn’t want a little more magick in their lives.
All photos by Mark Chaben.