BJ Papas Has the Sweet Smell of Soy Success

BJ Papas makes it possible for beer to annex just about every part of your life: beer-scented candles, anyone?

Papas started up her candle business, Relight, in December 2009, shortly after knee surgery left her unable to work her day job as a wardrobe stylist. It all began when she whipped up some homemade soy-wax candles poured into repurposed vintage-glass vessels and handed them out to friends and family for Christmas. Relight, Papas says, combines several loves in her life—candles, vintage and the environment.

She says her favorite place to hunt for vintage-glass objects for her candles is the Orange Circle's array of antique malls, often rescuing "orphan" drinking glasses from storefronts. Papas uses 100 percent natural soy wax for her candles, poured into everything from vintage soda glasses to more unconventional items, like kitten candle holders and oversized walnuts topped off with miniature squirrels.


Relight can be found at and

Notably, Relight chooses to not offer colored candles. "I don't dye the wax because the glassware is decorated enough—the color comes from the containers [the candles are in] rather than the candle itself," she says. "It's also more natural to keep the candles undyed—less unnatural things to burn and breathe in," adding that soy candles burn 30 percent to 50 percent longer than paraffin, providing a cleaner burn for both the environment and our health.

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"Soy is natural, untoxic and lead-free," Papas explains. "It emits an incredibly small amount of soot. It's biodegradable and water-soluble."

And after your candle's all done?

"Simply wash out the container in hot, soapy water and reuse," she says.

The aforementioned beer-scented candles were inspired by her little brother Chris, a home brewer and beer fanatic. "I found a beer candle scent and made him a candle in his favorite beer glass—Samuel Adams," she says. "My sister-in-law said the candle made the house smell like a brewery."

Papas says she tries to come up with scented candles for even guys to love. Solution? Fresh grass-scented candles in sports-related containers. In addition to various craft shows—such as the Patchworks in Long Beach (May 15) and Santa Ana (May 29)—Papas' Relight line can be found at the Camp in Costa Mesa and Audrey *K Boutique in Burbank.

This column appeared in print as "Sweet Smell of Soy Success."

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