WWJSL? She claims candles are the answer
A couple from Vermillion, S.D., is selling devotional candles they say smell like Jesus.
Years ago, Karen Tosterud was reading her Bible when she came across Psalm 45, which includes this description of the awaited Messiah: “Your robes are all fragrant with myrrh and aloes and cassia.”
“I realized that gives the formula for Jesus‘ scent when he returns,” she said.
So she sent away for those oils, which, mixed together, produced a scent that she laced with cinnamon and flowers.
Fast forward to last October, when she realized that she and her husband, Bob, could market candles with the fragrance.
“He teaches entrepreneurship at the University of South Dakota, so it seemed like a natural thing for us,” she said.
Thus was born His Essence, the candle, a fledgling business that has since overwhelmed the Tosteruds. After starting with an initial batch of 768 candles, they’ve sold 10,000 nationwide and are on the verge of ordering another 5,000.
“We’ve yet to make a cent on this, because all the money has gone back into making the candles,” Tosterud said. “But we’re not doing this to make money. We see this as a ministry, a way to remind people that Jesus is in our lives all the time.”
Profit or no, the candle is being sold — about $18 retail — in hundreds of stores in 20 or so states. The Tosteruds have even had inquiries from wholesalers in South Korea. “I don’t know if we’re ready for that yet,” she said.
According to their Internet site — www.hisessence.com — the candles are available at about 40 locations in the Twin Cities.
As word has spread, mostly via local TV news reports, the Tosteruds have experienced the downside of fame. They’ve been pestered by radio shock jocks and criticized by some Christians who see the candles as sacrilegious.
“Ever since we hit the Bible Belt, we’ve gotten more negative messages from people who don’t understand what this is,” Tosterud said. “They’re making us sound like we’re out to trash Jesus and make a lot of money. That’s not what we’re about.
“We’re sincere Christians who are practicing a ministry.”