Entrepreneurial students make the most of class to start their own candle business

UNIVERSITY PARK, PA — A Penn State student turned her semester-long e-commerce business idea into a full-fledged candle business.

Kelsey Lauer. A junior in advertising/public relations who earned about $2,000 last fall while taking the ENGR 310 Entrepreneurial Leadership class. Her candle business, Clove and Sprig, features hand-cast candles made from 100% biodegradable, clean-burning, smoke-free soy wax – and has grown from strength to strength ever since.

Lauer participated in the Invent Penn State Summer Founders Program, which provides students with $15,000 in funding to work full-time during the summer at the PNC Bank-backed Happy Valley LaunchBox to realize their entrepreneurial, social good, or nonprofit ideas.

“It helped me gain confidence to go into the business,” Lauer said.

This confidence has translated into production. Her Fall 2022 candle collection includes six different candle scents, and she’s producing more than double the number of candles she’s producing in 2021. The fall collection includes Pumpkin Pie, Macintosh Apples, Fallen Leaves, Homemade Banana Bread and Lavender. They are available on her website and at two Centre County stores: Belle Mercantile in Bellefonte and Tait Farm Food in Centre Hall.

Tait Farm Food also features Lauer in its newsletter. “Tate Farms told me that everyone came in and talked about their craze for candles and their love for it,” Lauer said.

Lauer has developed many connections with store owners and the Penn State community that have been instrumental in growing the business. Her parents are also a huge asset in her business as they are both business owners. Her father had a small Penn State football-related business at Penn State.

“My parents would stop by the store and talk to the owner about me and my business,” said Lauer, who is balancing the needs of being a full-time Penn State student, business owner and book club member.

“Since fall and winter are big times for candles, it’s been hard to find the balance between putting all my efforts into school and getting the best out of my business,” she said.

Raul, who grew up in York County Crossing, plans to get an internship in summer 2023 while continuing her career. In the future, she hopes to land a job in an advertising agency or public relations — ideally, a passion project that could turn into a full-time job.

Her winter collection, released in late October, is also available in stores and on her website.

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