Matt Dates, owner of Midnight Candle Company, is a self-taught candlemaker whose hand-poured jars and votives are lighting up the retail shopping scene in downtown Belmar, New Jersey.
Tell us a little bit about your business.
Midnight Candle Company offers hand-poured scented candles in their own retail space on Main Street in Belmar, as well as to other retail locations in the area. We also have event favors and corporate gifts, and offer fundraising programs. You can also bring in your own container for custom filling.
What was the inspiration for your business?
I started making candles for myself in 1994, and thought they were as good — or even better — than candles I had purchased. Back then, I felt there was a good market for a small, home-based candle business. I started with a table at a local craft fair and got such positive feedback and a bunch of return business immediately. Eventually, I was able to make it a full-time endeavor. People wanted more, so I kept making more! My first physical location was Atlantic Highlands, then West Long Branch, then Farmingdale, then Neptune, which I left in fall 2018 to open the Belmar store.
What do you enjoy most about being part of the Belmar business community?
I have been fortunate enough to live in Belmar for over 17 years, so the very same things that I enjoy about living here, I enjoy about doing business here. The amazing indoor and outdoor options combined with so many great people are truly awesome. I’ve always felt so comfortable being here, and the support from the local community has been tremendous. I look forward to the interaction with others during our upcoming workshops and classes.
What is something most people don't know about your business?
Since, I haven’t officially announced it yet, most aren’t aware that we are now offering Wax Works, which are “make your own” educational workshops for small groups of four to eight people. Participants will create, pour and leave with a minimum of two scented candles that burn for 60 hours each.
I want my business to be known for….
Simply providing quality products at fair prices while maintaining a sense of community through fundraising and candle workshops. We’re friendly, positive, and transparent in all we do.
People might find it surprising to know that I….
This part was the hardest. I started selling Kirby vacuums in order to raise money to start Midnight Candle Company.
If I was asked to describe my background in a few sentences, I would tell you that….
I grew up with amazing, hard-working self-employed parents and began regularly working in retail at 9 years old. I worked in many retail and service environments. I have traveled a lot but was born, raised, educated and lived in New Jersey my whole life. I am a self-taught, pre-YouTube, trial-and-error candle maker.
What is the biggest lesson you have learned being in business for yourself?
I can't do everything myself, even though I want to. To know when to ask for and to accept help from others is always beneficial.
What else would you like to share about your business?
We recently started “Fundraise Fridays,” through which we donate a percent of sales from each Friday of the month to a different organization doing great things in the area. Currently, Fundraise Fridays are for in-store sales, but we will be including online sales as well soon. We also have great contests and giveaways on Mondays on Instagram @midnightcandlecompany.
Anything else to add?
Midnight Candle Company uses only refined paraffin wax that has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the National Candle Association (NCA). We use the maximum amount of the highest-quality fragrance oils to produce a strong natural aroma that lasts for the life of the candle. All oils are phthalates-free and approved for burning in candles by the NCA. We use a pre-waxed wick with a zinc core to ensure wicks remain centered, stable and burning safely. All wicks are lead-free and non-toxic.
Midnight Candle Company
1108 Main Street
Belmar, NJ 07719
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