Wednesday, April 24, 2024
HomePeopleNot the Butcher or Baker. The Candlemaker.

Not the Butcher or Baker. The Candlemaker.

A minute with Brandon Brinkley.

During COVID lockdown in 2020, while most of us were binge watching The Tiger King or learning to bake bread for the first time, Brandon Brinkley was launching what would become his wildly successful business Norfolk Candle.

Pre-pandemic, Brandon lived in New York City building a successful fashion career which included several celebrity clients as well as working for films, New York Fashion Week, and costume departments on Broadway. Brandon and his husband, a pediatrician in Norfolk, were happy to be reunited back in Norfolk where he could pursue his passion project: candles.

At first, Brandon was solely making candles for his friend Ashley Branton’s store Velvet Witch.

“It started off as like just one little jar – The Cool Aunt candle – and now we have like 35 scents or more,” he said. “It’s kind of funny how things can grow from one little candle into a whole full-grown business.”

“The jar was so small so I couldn’t do a lot of design work in there, like the lavender looked like ants, and it just wasn’t aesthetically pleasing. I like the idea that you’re bringing life to a vessel that has been forgotten or been donated or just sat in somebody’s cupboard forever. We bring it back to life.”

When it became evident that the candles really resonated with folks, he created the Instagram that is still thriving today. A little over three years later, hundreds of maker markets and a pop-up location later, Brandon is getting ready to open his own brick and mortar store in 2024.

As an artist, Brandon is inspired by music, the art scene, and especially nature. In fact, the original idea for his business was a plant store. With his eye for shopping and creative fashion background, he had already begun collecting vintage pieces for succulents. Ultimately, these made more sense than the standard containers he was using for candle making.

This concept has resulted in an intentional queer business, and giving back to his community has been the foundation of Norfolk Candle from the start. As a founding member of PFLAG Hampton Roads, and now board member, Brandon’s first community-based candle was Say Gay. With each purchase, $3.00 is donated to Equality Virginia.

Being a queer creative is the cornerstone of Brandon’s business. This past year, he was offered a job in the New York that would greatly boost his fashion career. He ultimately turned it down to ensure that his business would continue to have queer visibility and continue to grow.

“That is how my careers have always been. It’s like the wind,” he said. “You can feel it coming and you can either fight it or you’re going to go with it and ride the wave.”


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