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Conversations with Lori Henry-Parnell

Today we’d like to introduce you to Lori Henry-Parnell.  

Hi Lori, it’s an honor to have you on the platform. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us – to start maybe you can share some of your backstories with our readers?
Thank you so much for having me Voyage Ohio.

Black Culture Candles is a luxury brand that celebrates Black Joy through Scent. We offer candles with unique fragrances inspired by our shared memories and experiences.

It all started with a conversation I had with my daughter during the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020. 2020 was a rough year, it was a heartbreaking year, but watching people from other cultures, countries, and ethnicities stand in solidarity with us was awe-inspiring. I wanted to create something that captured the feeling of that moment; the joy, the understanding, and the unity of that moment.

My daughter, who has a Master’s in Psychology, and I were talking about how scent, emotion, and memory are all intertwined. This led to my wanting to create a product that tells the story of our shared experiences; the experiences that connect us; all of us.

As a little girl, I remember watching my grandmother work in her garden through her kitchen window. I asked myself what that experience feels like, then I interpreted those feelings into a scent, and created our Grandma’s Garden candle. I dedicated it to the memories of our grandparents whose passion produced nutritious food, tended to plants, and grew beautiful flowers. This candle remembers the legacy of grandma’s hands in the soil with notes of green tea, fresh florals, and woody amber.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
Oh, no. The road to entrepreneurship has a lot of bumps and potholes in it. It’s a rewarding process because it moves you completely out of your comfort zone. You begin to see and evaluate everything through a different lens.

Entrepreneurship tests not only your ability to turn an idea into a tangible product or service, but also tests your capacity to believe in yourself, the validity and marketability of your idea, and your ability to persuade others to see and believe in your vision. It tests your efficiency at juggling many tasks at once and being proficient at all of them. It also tests your ability to pivot and apply information quickly. You must be focused, organized, teachable, and have a great team of people supporting and encouraging you.

Starting and running a business stretches you mentally, physically, and emotionally. It also tests the strength of your closest relationships. I’m so very lucky to have an awesome team of people who support and encourage me and who believe in me and my business.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
Creating a scent is a very intuitive process and candle-making is a very exact science. I start with a memory or experience and work to understand what that experience would smell like. I then start with a base scent and work with different fragrances until I curate a scent profile that expresses that emotional experience. It can take a while to create a new candle scent because the process is an emotional one and finding the right fragrances that work together takes a lot of patience and research.

I’m developing new scents and working to create additional home fragrance products that align with the vision I have for Black Culture Candles. I hope to see my candles on the shelves of stores like Neiman Marcus, Saks, and Nordstrom as well as small specialty shops.

I encourage my customers and followers to share with me their memories through a link on my website, and if that experience is developed into a home fragrance, they’ll get a large candle for free.

Is there anyone you’d like to thank or give credit to?
Absolutely, I couldn’t have done this alone.

Marissa McClellan from Crafty Mart and all of the guest instructors from the Maker Sessions, especially Byron Delpinal, have been amazing supporters, along with the Bounce Innovation Hub’s Motar Program, with Selina Garcia as Program Director,  the facilitators and guest speakers have been instrumental.

Shanesha Collins, Owner of The Maid Experience, is a great friend who has kept me focused and held me accountable. My business mentor, Adrian Chestnut, has been essential with his guidance and advice.

My son Max, who’s also an entrepreneur that works in tech, has put his superior tech knowledge and charismatic personality to good use at vendor events. And, my daughter Brice, who’s a mental health professional, was instrumental in helping me put my business idea on a firm foundation.

I love what I do. It’s both creative and technical and I’ve met some awesome people because of it. I always look forward to interacting with my customers any chance I get and learning how much they love the fragrance, how they resonate with the story, and how creatively they style them in their homes. It’s been an amazing ride.

Black Culture Candles is Celebrating Black Joy through Scent. Each beautifully scented candle is inspired by a joy-filled memory or experience.

Our candles are made by hand in small batches with creamy, shimmering, vegan wax, and custom fragrance blends poured into artisan engraved glass for maximum candlelight and set with eco-friendly crackling wooden wicks for a joyful candle-burning experience.

Give yourself the gift of Joy at

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