By Lauren H. Dowdle
Photos By: Blair Ramsey
Whether creating an inviting space for guests or a relaxing oasis for meditation, lighting a candle can transform any home. But for Elizabeth Carver, she not only enjoys candles — she also helps others do the same with her beautifully unique and fragrant pieces.
“Candles are associated with celebration,” Elizabeth says. “I feel so special when I walk into a home with a burning candle. There’s something extra welcoming about it—and the scent is an added bonus.”
It wasn’t until COVID hit that she truly realized her passion for these scented gifts.
Elizabeth has lived in Vestavia for a decade and has a fifth-grader at Vestavia Hills Elementary East and a freshman and junior at Vestavia Hills High School. Like many parents, Elizabeth tried to find fun activities for her children while they were stuck at home during the pandemic—including candle-making.
“After a few weeks, I noticed my kids had moved on to other activities, and I had become fascinated with making candles and all that goes with it,” she says. “I’ve always loved doing anything crafty, and I love candles.”
Learning how to make the candles took some trial and error—a lot of error, she says. In the beginning, she stayed up most of the night making candles in their kitchen. But one of those sessions turned disastrously messy.
“I literally poured candles for 14 straight hours due to the demand I had received. I was like a mad scientist,” she recalls. “Wax was on pots, pans, granite, the trashcan, everything. I can’t believe we didn’t get a picture of it.”
After her husband, JG, helped her clean up, he immediately made room for her to have a workshop in their garage. “Her business literally left its mark on everything in our kitchen,” JG says.
Elizabeth says she has gotten better about making them and now only pours her candles on a surface protected with an oilcloth—or something she can throw away. She also focuses on making each candle special and unique, which has helped her enjoy them even more. “The continuing of bulk production would have led to burn out quickly,” she adds.
When she first got started, she gave the candles as gifts. But by November 2020, she began receiving purchase requests for her creations. She said her life changed when she posted about her candles and got more requests than she could have imagined.
“It’s been pretty awesome seeing her passion for this on a daily basis,” JG says.
With the fear of failure still in the back of her mind, Elizabeth originally planned to not give her candle-making a business name. As her customer base grew and she began selling on Etsy, she decided it was time to make it official. So, when someone asked about her middle name, Claire, it sparked an idea.
“My grandmother was Elsie Claire, my mom is Rhoda Claire, I am Elizabeth Claire, my first cousin is Jean Claire, and JG and I named our first-born Catherine Claire,” she says. “I was like, that is it, Five Claires Candles.”
There are a few staple scents in her candle lineup, along with seasonal fragrances that rotate throughout the year. Her favorite scent is the lime mandarin (citrus) basil—and her top sellers are rosemary sea salt and lavender sage. Other scents include beach calming coconut, basil and berries, and wild basil and bergamot.
She says she knew she wanted to use a natural wax to make her candles, and soy was her favorite. But with so many soy wax options available, she had to find the most efficient option, which took some time. After testing several wicks to monitor the burn time, she says she found the perfect eco wicks that work great with her containers.
“I tested a lot of wax,” Elizabeth says. “I want my customers to have a candle that lasts as long as it possibly can.”
All of her candles are hand-poured and decorated with dried flowers, coming ready to gift or enjoy. The essential oil fragrances and soy wax provide the perfect balance of comfort and natural fragrances.
“People who are prone to getting headaches from candle scents have been my biggest fans and repeat customers,” she says. “A lot of my customers also order specific scents for time in prayer or meditation.”
When deciding on a vessel for the candle, she turned to one she loved: dough bowls. Now, she has begun expanding to other container options, like heart- and bean-shaped bowls. “The ambiance created by a candle can change a setting,” she says. “A great container can add to home décor.”
As her business grows, she relies on marketing and sales from Etsy and will arrange pick-up for local customers through the site, as well. Five Claires’ candles are as relaxing as they are visually appealing, and it’s clear love has been poured into each one.
“I’ve enjoyed it. I’ve been fortunate enough to go at my own pace,” Elizabeth says. “It has not been a stressful thing, but if anything, a stress reliever.”
To view or purchase Elizabeth Carver’s candles, visit Fiveclaires.com.