One Local Company Blends Soy Candles with Design-Savvy Chic

With roots in Latvian folklore, Munio Candela's beautiful candles fend off the winter darkness with eco-friendly ingredients.

By Allison Jones February 26, 2015

Ieva Dexter of Munio Candela understands the cold-weather blues. Born in Latvia, she looks back on cold, dark, and long winters by the Baltic sea when candles, storytelling, and herbal teas were vital remedies for banishing chills from the inside and out. When she launched her career in interior design, she never lost faith in the power of candle glow to create a final touch for lived-in, comfortable, and beautiful spaces.

When Dexter traveled to America in 2005, she discovered soy wax, which was then new to the European market. "Two friends and I learned the benefits of soy wax and quickly took to the habit of making candles every other night," Dexter shares. "We just loved every batch we made and so did our friends and family."

Dexter and business partner Elina Cima created the Munio Candela brand in 2008, specializing in handmade, long-lasting, and environmentally friendly GMO-free soy candles with an emphasis on wildcrafted botanicals, high-design presentation, and Latvian folklore.

Dexter moved to Portland in 2009 and founded a small candle studio where each batch is still handmade using the same quality ingredients and attention to detail as those early home experiments. Most materials are sourced and manufactured in Portland, and Dexter fosters relationships with local potters, glassblowers, woodworkers, and botanical companies to maintain a true artisan aesthetic throughout the line. "Our packaging is made from recycled cardboard and printed with water- or soy-based inks," Dexter explains. "All of our candle fragrances are either essential oils or essential oil-based, and we do not use any preservatives or colorants." In short, these are candles to get you through the Portland winter—and beyond—in eco-friendly style. Some designs we love:

  • Collection Legend, featuring hand-blown recycled glass jars with a wooden wick that mimics a fireplace's soothing crackle
  • Collection Villa, which comes in twelves scents—like wild juniper, black magic (cacao), green leaf (peppermint), and honest nature (laurel leaf)—in hand-cut and hand-painted recycled jars
  • Collection Folklore, clay pot candles and knitted wool aroma sachets (which Dexter calls "a sophisticated alternative to incense and diffusers") with symbols and botanical combinations from pagan era Latvia made from Imperial Ranch wool
  • Collection Naturella pillar candles featuring whole cloves, cinnamon sticks, olive leaves, wildflowers, or lavender with lead-free cotton wicks

What started out at as a small-scale production based on farmers market sales has become an international success story, with trade shows in Tokyo, Amsterdam, Helsinki, Paris, and New York, and fans in high places—including these local home boutiques: 

Christopher David—901 NW Tenth Ave
Ink & Peat—3803 N Williams Ave Suite 126
Amelia—2230 NE Alberta St
Manor Fine Wares—907 NW 23rd Ave
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