Meet Michelle Simmons of Slow North

Written by Kymberlie Quong-Charles

Slow North Candles


On April 30th Kettle & Brine is collaborating with Austin candlemaker Michelle Simmons of Slow North for a hands-on DIY soy candle making working shop.  Participants will have an opportunity to meet-the-maker and learn all about Slow North’s mindful path to making safe, sustainable candles and other home products.  Each guest will leave with their own handmade candle and refill kit.  Click here for details and to purchase tickets.

To give you a preview of Michelle’s product and process, we asked her to share with us the story of Slow North.   


How and why did candles become your medium of choice?

After years of slowly ridding our home of less-than-healthy, toxic products and replacing them with natural alternatives, I hit a roadblock when it came to finding a suitable replacement for our candles. Our home was without candles for a good while, but I greatly missed the calming ritual of lighting a candle to relax in the evenings.

The impetus for creating Slow North's line of plant-based candles was the birth of our son. While pregnant, I became even more aware of just how many products in our house contained mystery concoctions of synthetic chemicals, many of which aren't required to be listed in a product's ingredients. This did not sit well with me.

I learned of the poor indoor air quality so many of the mainstream air fresheners and candles created. While searching for alternatives, I discovered there was a need for well-designed, naturally healthy candles on the general market. I wanted to create a candle I would feel good about burning in my own home and one that would stylishly complement my decor.

We love your tag line “A Catalyst for Positive Change”. Can you tell us more about that?

We find ourselves lighting candles during transition times, whether it be a way to start off our day and get into “the zone” of the work in front of us, or the way we relax when we get home and begin cooking dinner for family.  Or maybe we light a candle when we sink into a bathtub with a good book before bedtime. All these moments are marked by a switch in gears, and we want our candles and products to be subtle reminders of the control you have in your own lives. We want our all-natural candles to help enhance the connections in your life, both with loved ones and with yourself. By choosing a Slow North candle, you are taking one step in the direction of a healthier home.

With so many candle products out there currently, what do you think sets Slow North products apart?

All Slow North products are free of synthetic chemicals and artificial fragrances. Our soy candles are made from biodegradable and renewable resources. They are dye-free, vegan and made without animal products, petroleum by-products or paraffin.

Our candles are designed with care and hand-poured with love in Austin, Texas. Our candle studio is powered by 100% renewable energy sources, reducing our reliance on fossil fuels, cleaning the air we breathe and helping to do our part to slow climate change.

Soy Candle WaxCandle Making Workshop

Where do you source your raw materials?

Our soy wax is sourced domestically from US farmers. Our essential oils are ethically sourced from all over the world, depending on the region where the plant grows natively. We partner with Texas-based companies for our recycled glass tumblers, corks, wicks, etc. And our gold travel tins are made in America. We definitely try to source as locally as possible.

Do you have a favorite scent?

My favorite scent right now is Grapefruit + Spearmint. It’s fresh, energizing and perfectly paired with our springtime weather these days. However, I’m experimenting with new scent combinations as we work on expanding our product line, and I’m kind of loving Eucalyptus + Lavender + Spearmint right now!

Do you have olfactory (scent) memories?

One memory that comes to mind is the scent of my 2nd grade teacher’s hair spray. I didn’t know what it was back then, but years later I was in high school with a boy who also wore the same hair spray, and it immediately sent me back to her classroom! It’s amazing how our sense of smell reaches across time, connecting us with the past.

What are other product lines/companies that you look to for inspiration?

I appreciate what companies like Herbivore Botanicals and Fig & Yarrow are promoting in the natural beauty realm. I’m inspired by companies that are women-led, naturally-based and beautifully designed.

What can we expect to see from Slow North in the future in terms of product lines, collaborations, etc?

We have dreams of collaborating with ceramic artists on a limited-edition basis to create one-of-a-kind gift items that can be repurposed after the candle is enjoyed. We’re also expanding our home scent collection to include larger sized candles, room sprays, diffusers and more!

Meet Michelle in person at our Slow North Candle Making Workshop

April 30 | 2pm - 4pm

Purchase tickets here