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Omaha Magazine

Good Life Candle & Craft

Feb 22, 2024 02:46PM ● By Katy Spratte Joyce
home maker march april 2024 GOOD LIFE CANDLE & CRAFT

Photo by Bill Sitzmann.

Jon and Nicci Nunnenkamp never set out to run a small business crafting natural soaps and candles, but in 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in Jon losing his job in the auto sales industry. He took one day to grieve and lick his metaphorical wounds before deciding to jump back into the workforce and be productive. 

“[Losing my job] turned out to be a blessing, because I always wanted to do something of my own, on my own,” he confessed. 

Jon explored designing and printing t-shirts, but that first idea didn’t quite click. Then, wife Nicci, a lifelong crafts lover, suggested a candle-making kit as a quarantine boredom-buster. “We made candles as a hobby first; then it spiraled from there,” Nicci explained.

The rest is history. 

Good Life Candle & Craft was born in the couple’s 1,000-square-foot downtown Omaha condo. They chose the name to evoke their shared roots and values as Nebraskans. “We liked the former ‘Good Life’ state slogan, and we knew we wanted to make good products,” Jon said. “So, [it] means a combination—a good quality of life using good, natural products.”

By August 2020, the Nunnenkamps were promoting Good Life Candle & Craft wares at events like the Omaha Farmer’s Market, where their lineup included selections like the wildly popular “Life’s a Beach,” a nod to their destination wedding in Jamaica. 

“Scent is a powerful trigger for memory, and we were able to make candles that evoked some of our favorite places and people,” Jon said. 

Going from hobby to successful business (with a brick-and-mortar as of July 2023) was a short timeline, although not a similarly short process. Jon used his childhood experience on the farm, where he developed a love for creating and problem-solving, as inspiration for approaching this new entrepreneurial endeavor. He tinkered with labels, logos, and packaging. Nicci noodled on small-scale marketing efforts and fragrance families. Together, they tested ingredients like wicks, essential oils, and clean waxes to launch the initial core product. “We custom-blend 90% of our scents,” Jon shared. "That’s what I love: getting to create every day.” 

The hardest part, however, involves naming the candles. The couple has devised some inventive monikers, like “Sweater Weather,” “Ranch Hand,” and “Awesome Blossom”—three of their top sellers.

Good Life Candle & Craft had some timing hurdles to jump, too. Pandemic shortages and supply issues meant they changed their jar design three times during the first year. Although the company flourished in its infancy, only so much room for candle making existed in a downtown loft. So, in August 2021—a little more than a year into the project—the Nunnenkamps transitioned to a production space in Ralston's Hillcrest area. 

“2021 is the year that Jon really focused on the business and realized this was no longer a hobby—it’s a professional calling,” Nicci explained. He is full-time with the company, while Nicci helps with marketing and events, balancing those duties with her longstanding real estate career. 

That same year, Good Life Candle & Craft perfected its bread and butter: candles and wax melts. Amusing categories such as “Funny & Sweary Label Candle Collection” with scents like “Sappy Christmas Movie” and “Mom’s Last Nerve” help them stand out from the crowded candle marketplace. “We really have fun with it,” Nicci said.

As they grow, the Nunnenkamps continue to hone Good Life Candle & Craft’s local, clean, and sustainable mission. They use beef fat from Jon’s hometown butcher for candles and goat milk from a farm in Lyons, Nebraska, for soaps. Reusing containers for their “Vintage Can Collection” provides another way to lessen their environmental impact while simultaneously offering a unique product.

Always expanding, the company explored adding liquid soap, air fresheners, and lotion to their lineup. The couple met in the middle with lotion candles, which, once lit, can be used as warming skin-safe lotion. They sell all this and more, including products from other local makers, at their Ralston shop, a complex that also houses their production facility. The storefront opened in 2023 and helps, Jon said, get the candles and products “into people’s hands—where it matters.” 

Learn more at goodlifecandle.com.

This article originally appeared in the March/April 2024 issue of Omaha Home magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Photo by Bill Sitzmann.

 

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