ROSCOE—“Sometimes the things you least expect are the things you are supposed to be doing.”
That’s what Chad and Melissa Burgess of Roscoe learned after pouring their lives into their candle and fragrance company. They never imagined they would be hand-pouring candles and shipping them off all over the world.
“It was kind of an accident,” Chad Burgess said.
Craft + Foster, 9958 N. Alpine Road, Suite 101, Machesney Park, offers unique and modern scents from Bergamot & Oud, Cedar & Cypress, Leather and Teak, Vetiver Woods to Harvest Bourbon, Mistletoe and more that have been picked-up by several well-known brands and companies including Neiman Marcus, FabFitFun, The Skinny Confidential and more.
In Beloit, they are selling their products at Bushel & Peck’s Local Market, and partnering with Geronimo Hospitality to provide scents at its hotels.
Chad, originally from Rockford, met his wife in Oceanside, California in 2009, got married and had four children. Melissa, an Iraq War U.S. Army veteran, was working for a church and Chad was in ministry and corporate marketing and sales when the two’s talents collided.
Melissa had already encountered some challenges, having grown up in and out of foster care. Having seen what she considered healthy families and their friends over the years, she wanted to one day have a successful family of her own.
“I got to see glimpses of what life could be,” she said
With a patriotic bent, she had served in the military from 2002 to 2010, including work as a medic for the infantry in Iraq from 2003-2005.
In the early days of their marriage Chad and Melissa were house parents, working with a program for junior high and high school students in foster care.
However in 2015, after Melissa had her third child, her PTSD kicked in full force and she sought out therapeutic solutions.
Melissa said she liked the calming act of pouring candles and the chance to be creative. Soon she sold a batch of candles at a local makers market.
“From start to finish, I was making everything with my hands and others were taking it into their worlds,” she said.
Within a year and a half their items were sold in hundreds of retail locations across the country. Chad had quit his corporate job to join her in the business.
Making the leap from markets to big retailers was a stretch, including plenty of 16-hour days.
“We put our hands to the plow and just did it,” she said.
Despite the daunting workload, the couple kept close to their mission of growing the business in hopes of one day using it to help fund a non-profit that would help foster children and veterans. Melissa hopes to hire veterans and eventually get them running their own businesses.
Within a year and a half their products sold in Neiman Marcus and they were collaborating with Hugh Jackman’s Laughing Man Coffee Company. They were featured at the Golden Globe Awards, when gift sets including the candles were given to more than 100 A-listers at the event. Their products were also featured on E!.
An avid networker, Chad was often parading the products around which led to mentions by social media influencers.
“We will scroll their sites, and see our candles on an A-lister’s table,” Chad said.
Their candles are made with soy wax. Chad and Melissa have created a rinse free hand spray which were big sellers last spring during the early days of the pandemic.
“We sold 1,000 of them when we first put them on the website,” Melissa said.
They have formulated room sprays and will be launching them in the next months.
Although they have had some challenges getting needed materials such as glass, lids and wicks due to supply chain issues during the pandemic they have carried on.
Melissa still struggles with PTSD but has recently signed up to start counseling. She said the unexpected path of candle making was what finally gave her the firm footing to move forward, something she hopes to share with other veterans in the future.