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April 23, 2013

Keego woman creates Michigan-scented candles

By Sherri Kolade
C & G Staff Writer

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Julie Touchette, of Keego Harbor, said she creates practical, Michigan-inspired candles, among other products, for locals and visitors, alike.

WEST BLOOMFIELD — Julie Touchette wants people to take a whiff of Michigan the way she smells it.

The 33-year-old Keego Harbor entrepreneur recently created a line of four candles, with scents inspired by the state, from her Lost Bluebird Collection, which will launch May 1 at Lolly Ella Jewelry, 6706 Orchard Lake Road.

Touchette said she wanted to create products that inspire the soul, while still being practical for the pocketbook.

“I realized how much I love the state, and I think a lot of people appreciate it,” Touchette told the Beacon recently. “I wanted to create a product that embodies different elements of the state (while) being inspired by nature.

“Fragrance has the strongest connection to memory,” she said. “It creates ambient feelings and adds an element to the experience.”

The candles include the scent of water for The Great Lakes State candle, cherry and vanilla for the Traverse City candle, citrus and pine for the Upper Peninsula candle and spicy leather for the Detroit candle.

Touchette, who also does hair and makeup, and creates other gift-type items, said she always had ideas swirling in her head about making products.

“I always have my journal and notebook with me to write ideas that come to me,” she said. “I’ve been keeping track of ideas the last couple of years, but last fall, I got into developing a whole line. I presented (the idea) a couple of months ago (to Lolly Ella staff). I was excited to know that the product would be available.”

She said she chose the respective cities’ scents because she didn’t want to create run-of-the-mill candles.

“Motor City leather is what the spirit of Detroit smells like,” Touchette said of the $13 candle. “It has more meaning and not just, ‘Oh, this is a vanilla candle.’ It has a lot more history to it.

“The fragrances speak for themselves based on what city or what part of the state they are trying to convey.”

Touchette said she chose Detroit’s leather smell because she focused on the renaissance city as a time of rebirth.

“A lot of products are coming out of Michigan, and they are based out of Detroit: That is an inspiration for a product,” she said. “I figure that would be the best fragrance to convey.”

Touchette added that she created gender-friendly fragrances.

“I wanted to create a product that anybody can use, not just jewelry for a woman or makeup, but (something anyone) can enjoy and create the warmth and experience in a home.”

Touchette, who works out of her home studio, said the candle line concept is based from her handmade kits, which include the candles and greeting cards.

“A little bit is for everyone,” she said.

Lolly Ella Jewelry co-owner Pam Strauch said she is more than thrilled to feature Touchette’s candle line. 

“A lot of her work is featured throughout the store. She has an amazing talent and (is a) dear friend,” Strauch said. “She has a lot of heart behind her stuff, and you can tell in her artwork and things, she does enjoy life. I think customers will be excited to see the new product line.”

Touchette said she hopes that, when people purchase her candles, they take time to slow down and enjoy life more.

“People should spend more time with family and take time for (themselves),” she said. “At end of the day, something as simple as buying yourself a candle and enjoying that in your home, I think is an important thing. A lot of people don’t slow down that much.”

Touchette said she has learned a lot since her professional journey started 13 years ago after graduating from college. She attended Eastern Michigan University, where she studied apparel, textiles and merchandising. She obtained her Bachelor of Science degree in art. She is also a licensed cosmetologist.

“I feel like I am learning a lot about myself and going back to simple things and life with candles,” she said.

For more information about Lost Bluebird products go to www.lostbluebird.wordpress.com.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Sherri Kolade at skolade@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1046.