Like all small business owners in the area, Doug Collum sees hundreds of summer customers pass through the doors of his Old Forge shop where he manufactures and sells his unique beeswax stick-shaped candles.
Two summers ago a few admirers of his work purchased candles, telling Collum they were for their personal friend, media mogul and entrepreneur Martha Stewart.
But this summer, the customers returned to say that they had gifted the candles to Stewart who was delighted with them.
They also hinted that he may be getting contacted by Martha Stewart Living magazine to have his stick candles featured in an upcoming issue.
Collum again questioned the validity of the conversation, but to his surprise, he received phone calls within weeks.
An assistant to Stewart and a story producer were requesting samples of the candles to be included in the holiday gift guide section of the December issue.
Seeing is believing, said Collum, as his stick candles can be found among 40 featured items in a four-page spread in the magazine now available on newsstands.
Under the heading of Our Finds, they are described as a gift for a hostess or as a keepsake that “will turn any room into a warm, inviting space.”
And if that wasn’t enough, Collum has heard rumblings that the candles will be included in an upcoming segment of Martha Stewart’s web series, Countdown to Christmas.
“It’s all very exciting,” Collum said of his cottage industry that was ignited by a simple gift request.
Stick Candles were born when Collum came up short in replacing a pair of similarly shaped candles that his mother had received as a gift many years ago.
“She loved them and kept them for a very long time before finally burning them. But by then she had forgotten who had given them to her and where they were purchased,” he said.
In Collum’s candle quest, only cartoonish versions of sticks were found, he said.
So, inspired by his Adirondack surroundings, he began to experiment.
He made casts from Maple, Cedar, Hickory, and Ash branches, and through trial and error and a whole lot of burn testing he came up with a product that was both beautiful and functional.
Stick Candles are now available in 10 different colors, with new-to-the-line birch pillars in three varying shades.
Collum hand-produces the stick candles at his shop on 3278 Route 28, but because the building is not winterized, he is currently looking for a warmer space to manufacture his product in the coming months.
He hopes to be open for An Adirondack Christmas on Main Street event that takes place Thanksgiving weekend and the following weekend.
“If the light’s on, I’m home. So come on in,” he said.
Otherwise, Stick Candles are available at Mountain Greenery in Old Forge and at The Adirondack Reader in Inlet.