COLUMN: Does the world need another manufacturer of scented candles? Until recently, many of us would have been indifferent about the answer. Then I met Meike Kopp, owner of a company with the interesting name of Manifest Destiny. Now I realize that other scented candles compare to her creations the way a BB gun compares to a howitzer.

It starts with the bouquet. Eerie, sensual and baroque, her candles emit scents that take you back in time and across the world. There is a lot of power to the aroma of Manifest Destiny: these are extremely intense candles. Yes, we’ve all had the sensation of leaning forward to smell a candle and then quickly pulling back because the perfume was a bit more potent than we had anticipated. With a Manifest Destiny candle, you probably won’t get within a foot of the heavy silver holder because your olfactory senses will be hyper-charged by that time.

Manifest Destiny candles“I see the candles as kind of a rebellion against the vanilla sweet, girls-only candle industry,” Kopp says. “I wanted to create artifacts that would evoke sensual memories, both personal and collective. These candles are not just a feminine bath-time accoutrement, but a multifaceted human experience because they have a provoking scent, an enigmatic image and a lovely fable.”

To capture the essence of her first four candles, Kopp has published short stories relating to each of them. Hunter’s Reign begins this way:

‘An odd sound emerged from behind the swirl of bramble.’

This tale concludes six pages later after a series of scenes you have never seen before. The saga of Vintage Velvet commences with these lines:

‘As the bartender poured the cognac into a glass, Claire swung round and winked at her sisters perched near the entrance of the speakeasy, two broken little sparrows awaiting the reward of a worm, or worse yet, a police raid.’

This is a marketing campaign that is not only anti-hype, it also blends a DIY approach with what might be termed viral literacy.

“Is it possible to say that I tried to create a new category in the candle niche,” muses Kopp, “an intellectual candle?” It certainly is true that everything about her line of products differs from what I had expected. “I came up with the name Manifest Destiny because my approach to business and this line is with an almost immigrant viewpoint of the American Dream,” notes Kopp, “referring to expansion into unknown territories, you know, visions of pioneers reinventing their lives, hacking away at the mundane.”

Candle Facts
The striking packaging of the Manifest Destiny candles proudly proclaims they are ‘Made in the United States of America.’ Each candle features a blend of fine fragrance oils instead of chemicals. Hard to say if a scented candle could be called green, but these candles are certainly closer than many others.

The MD line also utilizes soy-based wax instead of paraffin. This has two advantages. First, paraffin is made of a by-product of petroleum refining. Second, paraffin produces a lot of black soot in the container as well as on walls and furniture. Soy-based wax cuts down on soot emissions and lowers the chance of allergic reactions or asthma attacks. While some candles on the market emit lead into the air because of lead-based wicks, the Manifest Destiny line uses wicks that are free of lead.

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Cool Heat

Soy-based wax also burns at a lower temperature than all-paraffin candles, increasing the number of hours a candle can be used. Manifest Destiny is claiming 80 hours of burn time for their products. I haven’t tested this yet. Actually, truth be told, I haven’t lit the candle I was given. All I do is take it out of the box and the scent permeates the room within minutes and reaches the back bedroom within a half-hour. If this keeps up I may never have to light it. (I told Kopp that and she smiled wickedly and said, “Light the ****ing candle, already!”)

The candles do succeed at capturing a bit of the persona of Meike Kopp. As she puts it, “I really like that the candles appeal to both the feminine and masculine sensibilities. Men hover around like I just pulled out a cool gun or something.”

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