Working in Clark County: Amy Vance, Vance Family Soy Candles

By Kay Richardson, Columbian staff writer



Working in Clark County, a brief profile of interesting Clark County business owners or a worker in the public, private, or nonprofit sector. Send ideas to Kay Richardson:; fax 360-735-4598; phone 360-735-4550.

Amy Vance is terribly allergic to conventional candles with synthetic fragrance. But she still wanted candles, so she set out to make her own. Procuring organic, ethical, sustainable, USA-made ingredients, she’s created not just any candles, but naturally scented soy candles with low smoke wicks. Add to that her desire to use local ingredients and to donate a percentage of her profits to those in need, and it equals success.

Name: Amy Vance.

Residence neighborhood: Barberton.

Business name: Vance Family Soy Candles, 360-576-5848,

Age: 41.

How you got started in your business: I began selling at the Battle Ground Village Farmers Market and found that I wasn’t alone in my desire for candles made like mine versus petroleum-based ones with harmful fragrances and dyes. As the sole breadwinner for myself and three children, I knew that wholesale was going to be the way to go. I tried toting my young sons with me to shops to try and sell my candles, but it proved quite difficult. With a serendipitous check I’d received from an insurance claim, I was able to sign up for the Seattle Gift Show. From that moment on, I’ve never doubted where I am, or what I’m doing, and every day I am humbled and thankful for the opportunities I’ve been given and the relationships I’ve built.

Personal/business philosophy: Say yes (then worry about how to do it). Always do my best. Always go the extra mile. Always be thankful. Never take my customers or situations for granted. Always have a sense of humor. Communicate. Don’t go in debt. Think outside the box. Don’t conform. Don’t worry, be happy.

Most rewarding part of job: There is so much! Being able to bring my children to work with me and having a flexible schedule. Being creative. Being able to be generous with donations to charities and candlelight vigils, with employees, other local businesses, artists, families and neighbors.

Most challenging part of job: Balancing inventory and cash during the slow versus busy times. Knowing that I am responsible for those I employ and being able to pay them during the slow times can be tough.

Something readers might find surprising about your work? “Portlandia,” “Grimm,” and the movie “Wild” have all used my candles as gifts for their cast and crew. I also made a limited edition line of candles for Jessica Alba’s company, The Honest Company, and my candles have been used in the dressing rooms of Katie Couric, Jennifer Hudson, and Dave Matthews.

Best feature of my Clark County community: The kind, supportive, open-hearted people.

What would make your community a better place? More sidewalks and bike paths outside of city limits.

Your favorite travel destination and type: I love it all! My candles are based upon places I have visited and my travels. I remember smells and associate my adventures with particular scents.

Favorite restaurant/pub/coffee shop/store: Store: Most Everything vintage store downtown. Pub: Brother Ass Brewing and Heathen Brewing. Restaurant: Mill Creek Pub in Battle Ground. Grocery store: New Seasons Market.

Hobbies: Travel, cooking, anything outdoors, kayaking, swimming, hiking, being spontaneous, writing, art, disc golf, Texas Hold ‘Em.

Most enjoyable book/play/movie/arts event in past 12 months: Couve Couture. Everything was so beautiful and it was all local and held at the historic Academy.

Something you’d like to do this year/within five years: Take my children on an East Coast/Southeast road trip where we will dive into the ocean, visit family and friends, see history, and wrangle some alligators.

One word to describe yourself: Nonconforming.

Person you’d most like to meet: My brother. Yes, I’ve already met him, but he died many years ago and I’d love to meet him again.