Funky Little Shack

Juls Green’s secret formula for memories, love and light

DEVON MORGAN/PHOTOSYNTHESIS ATLANTA
Julie Green, owner of Juls Candles.
Juls Candles is located at 1577 James Burgess Road in Suwanee.
Julie Green, owner of Juls Candles.
Photo
By KIMBERLY BROCK
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Discovering the little farmhouse that holds Juls’ Candles, an eclectic gift shop and chandlery sitting just off a busy highway in Suwanee, Georgia, is like stepping inside a bohemian kaleidoscope for the senses. And at the center of everything is Julie Green, the free-spirited dynamo who dreamed it all up. Colorful scarves and twinkle lights hang from the ceilings, and upbeat music welcomes wide-eyed customers as they duck inside. But it’s the combination of the playful energy and that first inhale of the complexly scented candles that keeps customers coming back, bringing their friends, and becoming what Green calls “Juls’ Junkies.”

“I often say that through the flicker and flame of our product, I bring happiness to other people,” she said. “That’s the essence of my business.”

The business started in the Green family’s suburban home in 1999, among her two young daughters, two 6-month-old puppies and a husband who worked his week 400 miles away. With the desire to own her own business, Green and her husband made a trip to Vermont to visit a candle company, and she found what she calls her destiny. They came home with a secret formula, ready to take a risk. With his background in business, paired with Juls’ background in chemistry, they seem fated to concoct the perfect candle.

“Our basement became where we mastered our pouring technique, packed orders and cried many tears,” she said. “I remember wondering what we’d gotten ourselves into! I was selling candles at craft shows, and my mailing lists included my home address. People started showing up at my house to buy more candles.”

Fifteen years later, her kids are proud of their mom and what she’s brought to the community. Green’s daughters are now 21 and 17 years old, but she is quick to point out that it’s not all warm wax and pretty scents. A lot of hard work and persistence goes into bringing the good juju every day.

“It’s a lot of physical labor and mentally exhausting at times,” Green said. “I’m the buyer, the one receiving and carrying in deliveries of raw materials, selecting decorative containers, handling social media, marketing and emails. I put in some long days and extra hours and a lot of that time is very solitary.

“Starting something and bringing a dream into reality takes focus,” she said. “But I did it and I hope more than anything that someone else will look at that and find encouragement. I believe it’s possible for anyone. I’ve kept my eye on a definitive purpose, a singular goal – to bring joy and comfort to people.”

Creating scents to bring into someone’s home is just the kind of personal touch that makes the work meaningful for Juls.

“I love offering that service, being invited into someone’s home to get to know them, learn what they love and bring that into creating an exclusive scent that means something special just for them,” she said. “Scent is powerful. Bringing peace or cheer to a space. There’s nothing more powerful for evoking memory than scent.”

Recently, her efforts have taken on more meaning than even she anticipated.

“Since April, I’ve lost 13 friends. Nine out of the 13 of those families have come to create a candle in memory of their loved one,” she said. “That’s such an honor.”

For all the heart that goes into her candles, Green is also a consummate artisan. She’s adamant about using all natural essential oils and waxes, dedicated to the highest quality and she has a gift for creating complex blends. Green spends time combing everywhere from antique stores to odd lot shops for unique containers as well as working with a regular glass supplier. She helps him unpack his crates in return for getting first pick of the merchandise.

“I’ll also pour candles in containers customers bring in to me,” she said. “We’ll pick a scent and create something really individual.”

Individual might be the best word to describe the next adventure she has in mind for the shop.

“As we grow, I have plans to increase production by using new ways to orchestrate and hand pour our candles,” she said. “I would also like to employ more people to support our quality candle-making process versus going to machines.”

Specifically, in Juls’ style, she’s looking into opportunities to bring special needs youth, displaced teens or battered women on board, with a vision of providing a safe and creative workplace, sharing her purpose and success, paying it forward.

“I love this business most for the excitement it brings to others, customers who discover the store for the first time or return and are delighted with changes and new products,” Green said.

She smiles, a twinkle in her eye, a reflection of the crazy quilt of jazzy sounds and sumptuous smells that make her shop nothing less than magic.

“It’s about the relationships, you know,” she said. Like she knows a secret she’s just dying to tell, one of her customers and friends comes seeking out the glow of her funky little shack. “It’s all about the connections that are created.”

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This month's issue

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