POWER COUPLE: First meeting at Mission Waco, Elijah Muhammad and Jessica Jimenez-Muhammad have crafted friendships alongside their brand to sell their candles across local Waco businesses.
Fragrances With a Dash of Passion
From mixing his father’s colognes as a kid, Elijah Muhammad has come full circle to build a brand that feels like home.
Story and Photos By Mallory Harris
Lighting a candle can send the same signal to your brain as a conductor bringing his arms up ready to cue in the orchestra: “Get ready.” While fragrances can hold special moments and allow for a blend of unique scents, Elijah Muhammad, co-founder of Symphony Candle Co., compared the blending of sounds from instruments in an orchestra, or a symphony, to blending fragrances as inspiration for the name of his company. Without any control or idea as to how to blend everything together, it doesn’t sound well and it doesn’t feel good until you find that missing piece. That piece, Muhammad believes, is the cue to begin, whether in the form of a conductor or a candle.
“I want our candles to be a cue,” Muhammad said. “The cue for you to [think], ‘At this moment I’m lighting this candle, I’m going to try and be my best at this moment,’ so it’s me cleaning up, it’s me studying, it’s me just spending time with family making the atmosphere cozy or whatever atmosphere you want. We want it to be that cue that sets up the atmosphere so you can be in the best moment with people in whatever you are trying to do.”
Prior to starting the business in 2019, Muhammad knew he wanted to be an entrepreneur. He asked himself what products he uses himself that he could improve upon for other consumers and realized he’s always had an interest in fragrances since he was a kid. Although over the years Muhammad, and his wife and co-founder Jessica Jimenez-Muhammad, said it wasn’t easy starting out and some things had to be learned in the moment.
“When mixing the fragrances, it wound up coming full circle [and] reminding me of when I was a kid and messing around with my dad’s cologne,” Muhammad said. “I’ve always loved fragrances, so candles were something that I was like, ‘Oh, I could try that out.’ I got into it, thought it was going to be really easy, but like all things there are some things you have to learn and so it … was definitely a learning curve.”
Picking up tips and tricks, Muhammad has found that the rules to help guide him in creating a “good-smelling” candle can be seen as suggestions and allow him to be innovative. He must pay attention to the accords, a pre-mixed blend of fragrances that resemble smells of nature, as well as the bottom, middle and top notes. Each piece plays a specific part in the overall smell. For example, the bottom notes last longer when burning a candle and typically have a heavier tone and wood characteristics while the top notes are more citrus-like and are easier to express. Middle notes stay in between and serve to balance out the two chosen fragrances. Of course preferences play a factor when selecting a scent, and Muhammad is no exception as he tries to sneak sandalwood into almost every candle.
“Our top seller is called amber and moss, and so we have some persimmons in there that kind of serves as a top note and a middle note. Then there is some moss and some cedar in there that brings the tone down, but you still get this uplifting, inviting fragrance,” Muhammad said.
Just as the fragrances and notes unite, Muhammad and Jimenez-Muhammad work together at home to melt, mix, pour and label each candle to sell. Since they don’t have a physical shop and spend a majority of the time with each other at home working, Jimenez-Muhammad said many people warned them to set time aside to be a married couple. However, she said it’s beneficial and very natural that they do so much together. In fact, on top of their other jobs outside of Symphony Candle Co. if they were just friends or business partners, working together wouldn’t be so seamless Jimenez-Muhammad said.
“Our personalities, our working styles, everything kind of balances each other,” Jimenez-Muhammad said. “What he’s good at, I’m not good at. He does all of the mixing and the pouring and actually making of the candles because it requires way more math and science. I do more of the aesthetics part, which is the labeling of the candles and our social media and our website and stuff like that because it’s more in my wheelhouse.”
Since they base manufacturing out of their home, friendships Muhammad and Jimenez-Muhammad have made across Waco with local businesses help them sell their candles in a more accessible and physical way than solely through their online shop. What started as relationships from church or connections through other friends has turned into business partnerships with Pinewood Coffee Bar, Waco Cha, Mission Waco and many other local Waco businesses. Muhammad said through every friendship-turned-business-relationship they create, it’s filled with gratitude and excitement to see how each individual business gains success.
“Dylan [Washington] at Pinewood has always been a major supporter. I remember when they were just beginning Pinewood, we used to share dreams and what we wanted to do, and so he always told me whenever I do start something, he said, ‘You can absolutely sell it at Pinewood,’” Muhammad said. “Same way with Waco Cha. They are amazing people. When they got to a point to have their shop, they extended an olive branch to us. And same way with Mission Waco — that’s actually where my wife and I met, and we met so many great people there and we have good relationships with people still at Mission Waco.”
Continuing to grow their business by being intentional with their ingredients, fragrances and friendships, Muhammad looks forward to the future of Symphony Candle Co. Paying attention to his passions, Muhammad has brought to life his own blend of smells that he hopes sets the atmosphere for others that brings comfort.
Trust The Process
- 1. WAX: Once the wicks are glued down, Muhammad melts together his pre-mixed soy and coconut wax with beeswax to fill the candle. He fills it up to a line that provides a lengthy life to the candle.
- 2. SCENT: For the candle to bring forth a smell, Muhammad mixes unique smells for each individual candle. To ensure consistency and strength, he measures out each ingredient and pours it in with the wax.
- 3. HEAT: To help the candle form, Muhammad heats and smooths the wax with a heat gun. While forming the candle, he must make sure no hairs or dust get caught in the draft or it may be stuck forever.
- 4. LIGHT: With the finishing touches being done, each candle is packaged with label and ready to be sent out. Since Muhammad uses beeswax, when the candle is lit it acts a natural purifier when lit.