Woodfire Candle Company sets up shop in Esko

What used to be a service station has been transformed into Woodfire Candle Company's workshop.

Woodfire Candle Company owner Kristen Hinrichs holds Poppy while talking to a visitor at the firm’s production space in Esko as Olivia Frey (left) and Candice Belich work in the background. (Steve Kuchera /

Between the development of scents and the setting of the wax, candle-making is more complicated than people might think and requires quite a bit of space, according to Woodfire Candle Company owner Kristin Hinrichs.

Since 2012, Hinrichs has been making and selling candles out of her home — starting in the kitchen, and eventually taking over three rooms in the basement and two garages.

She decided she needed her own space designated for crafting the candles in December 2020, and she purchased a building in the center of Esko that had formerly been used as a service station.

Located across from Esko’s Winterquist Elementary School, where her son goes to school, Hinrichs said the space has not only helped with operations, but also has been very convenient.

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Woodfire Candle Company, 1 West Highway 61 in Esko, will include a small retail space. (Steve Kuchera /

“We just thought this building was kind of the perfect spot,” she said.

Hinrichs has since remodeled the building to suit her needs, with the majority of the space used for manufacturing, and a small retail section in the front featuring other local businesses.

While Hinrichs said the majority of Woodfire Candle’s sales happen online, she has really enjoyed getting to know other business owners in the area since the storefront opened in Esko.

“It’s a neat community,” she said while examining a bracelet from Chew Me Jewelry.

A typical work week for Hinrichs runs Monday through Friday from about 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Around the holidays when sales drastically increase, she spends seven days a week making candles.


Operations at the Esko building consist of pouring wax into glass containers, setting the wax — which can take up to 24 hours — mixing scents, filling orders and more.

Hinrichs said the most tedious task is smoothing out the wax after it sets. She has also invested time and money into developing unique products and scents, such as “Tobacco and Honey” and “Warm Flannel.”

Woodfire Candle Company employee Candice Belich uses a heat gun to finish candles, smoothing out any irregularities on the candles’ surfaces. (Steve Kuchera /

“It’s really a science,” she explained.

When asked about her favorite part of the candle-making process, Hinrichs said it's going home smelling like candles.

The inspiration for Woodfire Candle originated during Hinrichs’ pregnancy with her son, when she found herself wanting more organic products around the house.

Because of this, she worked to find natural scents for her candles that can use natural ingredients, drawing inspiration from the Northland environment.


Hinrichs said the majority of sales happen online through their website , but that Woodfire Candle products are sold in a few local stores, such as Duluth Pack and Fitger’s Beer Store. She even makes two custom scents for the Fitger’s shop to pair with their beer products, as well as one custom scent for Duluth Pack.

Woodfire Candle also makes room sprays, oil diffusers, flannels and wax melts.

The company currently employs about six people, but Hinrichs said she is hoping to hire some high school students to work once the retail portion of the store is open and store hours are extended.

Woodfire Candle Company employee Olivia Frey fills an order. (Steve Kuchera /

She refers to her husband, Dan, as her “pallet manager,” and her mother, Linda Carlberg, as her first employee.

“I thought it would be a fun opportunity to keep busy in the winter during all this craziness,” employee Olivia Frey said of her decision to work at Woodfire Candle.

Candice Belich has two school-aged children, and said working at Woodfire Candle gives much-needed flexibility in her schedule.


“Esko has been really welcoming,” Hinrichs said. “I’m happy to be here.”

Woodfire Candle’s retail space in Esko is set to open this spring.

Woodfire Candle Company makes candles in more than 20 scents, including citrus spice, coffee haus, and cozy cabin. (Steve Kuchera / free card

Woodfire Candle Company makes candles in more than 20 scents, including citrus spice, coffee haus, and cozy cabin. (Steve Kuchera / free card

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