When Erika Kaiser-Powell’s father taught her how to make candles nearly a decade ago, she thought she just found a new hobby. She had no way of knowing that, in a few short years, she’d be operating A Scent of Sunshine LLC.
During an average production day, Kaiser-Powell makes about 24 candles with over 20 different fragrances, along with air freshener and oils. While she has a large output when events come around — she makes over 100 candles for the three annual S.H.E. Events — Kaiser-Powell’s business is as homegrown as they come.
Kaiser-Powell operates A Scent of Sunshine from her maternal grandfather’s house. For Kaiser-Powell, the home built in 1895 is filled with childhood memories of playing with her brother throughout it. That family history makes the house a comfortable spot to grow her business.
“I can relax here,” Kaiser-Powell said. “I can just slip on my house shoes and put on some jazz and just make my candles. I’m comfortable here.”
Kaiser-Powell’s family is incorporated in nearly every aspect of the business. Kaiser-Powell used to work in the same school as her husband, a special education teacher. Visiting his classroom, one student told her “it seems like sunshine when you come in,” and the nickname “Sunshine” stuck, including when it came time to name her business.
Other nods to her family often go unnoticed. Her air freshener and oil bottles are a tribute to her late mother, Toni, who died of cancer in 2012.
“My mother’s favorite color was blue, so that’s why the bottles are blue,” Kaiser-Powell said. “I have sentimental things with this business that people may never know, but it’s important to me to incorporate them. … I’m just really glad that my mom was alive to see this become an LLC.”
And, if you see Kaiser-Powell at a S.H.E. Event — founded by local entrepreneur Katina Washington to help other local businesses grow — you’ll likely see her father, Tony, by her side.
“I’m very, very proud of her,” Tony said. “That’s why I don’t mind jumping on a plane from Texas when she calls and says she needs my help for an event. I’ll be there in August to help her for the next S.H.E. Event, so if you go there, you’ll see me there ready to rock ’n’ roll with my daughter.”
Several years ago, Kaiser-Powell became a regular vendor at Washington’s event after filling in last minute for another vendor. Washington said her work ethic makes her stand out from the crowd.
“I’ve watched Erika’s business grow tremendously,” Washington said. “I really don’t know how she keeps the load up because it’s a lot of work. I could say a million great things about Erika. I love her.”
Washington’s favorite thing about Kaiser-Powell’s candles is the positive affirmation that comes on each jar. And when customers speak to Kaiser-Powell, her positivity is palpable.
Like any small business owner, Kaiser-Powell has had her share of ups and downs, such as an ever-changing economy and a global pandemic that canceled vending opportunities and struggles with balancing her personal life with her business. Despite the struggles that come with starting a business, Kaiser-Powell has big goals, including opening a storefront. She also hopes A Scent of Sunshine is a life lesson for her sons.
“I hope that I am and have already shown them that you can do it; no matter what it is,” Kaiser-Powell said. “If you’re comfortable, and if you like it, even if you struggle, you can still do it. And they see that I spend a lot of nights working, and they see me get excited, they see me get tired, but they see me keep going. So, I hope, whatever it is that they decide to do, that they keep going.”
Contact staff writer Breanna Cooper at 317-762-7848. Follow her on Twitter @BreannaNCooper.
For more information about A Scent of Sunshine LLC, visit www.scentofsunshine.com.