Kim Sorden, Proprietress
She followed her mother into a long, thin shop where a rough wooden counter towered above her small body. She was a child, listening to the clink of small glass bottles, hearing the warm, melodious voices of women discussing all there was to savor about what it was they held up to their noses, breathing in.
It was Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley in the seventies. It was Body Time, known back then as The Body Shop. It was a store run by the magical, the beautiful, the women of scented oils and lovely skin. They mixed each scent as it was requested, glass bottles tipped one after the other as oils combined suddenly to become a scent memory which lasted her whole life. She adored her mother for bringing her there. She never forgot.
Fast forward from daughter to wife—As a young mother, Kim found herself in Colorado without family, nor an established cache of friends. One day, her earliest scent memories stirred as she conjured her own candles in the kitchen, with a kit from the local craft store. She found out she had, what’s known in the business, as a natural nose.
Kim’s first candles glittered. They were tied up with ribbon looped into large bows. Dangling from the center were small pewter fairy charms—Magic Fairy Candles was born. She gave them to friends who asked for more to give to their family and other friends. Her husband said, “Sell them!”
The first handful sold at a Longmont consignment shop. Soon after, Kim removed the glitter and bows. She found simple, durable glass manufactured in the United States. She refined the candle crafting process to utilize only the most natural materials as efficiently as she could. She hired a friend to make cold calls to shops for wholesale orders, following up with visits and samples and scents.
Kim’s children, Emily and Sebastian, were growing. Still without a storefront, Magic Fairy Candles showed up at every craft fair and farmers market. Emily donned a green velvet dress and wings and flitted about handing out flyers. Long after she’d outgrown the dress and graduated high school, she and her mother set off for Europe together. They stayed with a friend in a flat over a chocolate factory. Kim could not get enough of the Old World—she plucked moss and mushroom, dirt and snails, smelling them all.
A trek across Paris with both daughter and friend, brought Kim to the wonders of Cire Trudon, the house of the world’s oldest candle making proprietors, those boasting to have “survived the arrival of the miracle of electricity.” Kim collapsed on the shop’s couch. She absorbed the atmosphere through her skin; she saw each scent displayed under an individual cloche. The vision for her own shop came into much finer view. The single candle she purchased at Cire Trudon, for which she paid a small fortune, she burned completely, thinking more carefully about how to source her ingredients and blend her own scents.
That first batch of candles at Kim’s kitchen table were poured nearly twenty years ago.
How many candles poured to date? Perhaps a couple hundred thousand.
Kim Sorden, and the simple splendors of Magic Fairy Candles, attest to what happens when a woman journeys fully from a past resplendent with memories of mingling conversations and scents, to a business built by keeping her heart solidly rooted. Every product she offers supports and sustains farmers and artists and friends and community in Colorado and other parts of the country. Her storefront stands on Main Street in Longmont, where people now find themselves wandering in, attracted by an unknown longing for scent memories of their own.
To revere the unknowable and step into a life without a plan is to simply remember what you have loved—from the very beginning.