ELLINWOOD — According to Scott and Jennifer Andersen, it all started with a candle seven years ago.
“I saw a candle in a magazine when I took the kids in for their yearly checkup. It was a really fancy candle and really expensive, so I asked Scott if I could get this candle?” Jennifer recalled. “He laughed and said, ‘I’ll make you a candle.’”
The couple had just moved back to the fifth-generation family farm near Ellinwood and were pretty low on funds, “so, when she sent me that photo I was like, oooh, so I bought the stuff on the credit card. Turns out I spent way over what the candle would have cost,” he said.
The experience was new to Scott, who brought his Forcefield Design graphic design business from Kansas City, but it was also fun. They made a few more candles and gave them out to family and friends for Christmas.
“It was weird, because people really liked them, so that got us thinking, ‘can we do this for real?’” he said.
If they were going to start a business, they would need a name. For Scott, who had lived in largely urban settings on the east coast, when he got to rural Kansas he was impressed by its landscape. “It wasn’t what most people in the East say about Kansas at all,” he said.
“When he got the first look at our farm after we moved from Kansas City, Scott said ‘There’s a lot of earth and a lot of sky,’” Jennifer said.
So the idea for “Kansas Earth and Sky” was planted.
A vintage location
“We were pouring candles in our bedroom and it got too crowded with kids and cats,” Scott said. He and Jennie sought out, rented and later purchased the former Cyclone building on Main Street in Ellinwood.
The building, which began as a mercantile store, was in need of repair, but had retained a lot of its original character. Their production area is in the rear, with a small storefront area facing the street. The two rooms are connected by a hallway filled with large photographs of the iconic Ellinwood structure.
“Both of us like old things, and we’re finding out we’re collectors,” Jennifer said. Their work tables were fashioned from the wooden lanes of an old area bowling alley. “They’re not all that pretty, but we like them and they work,” she said.
A treat for the nose
Just walking into the store at 23 N. Main in Ellinwood is a treat for the senses. The discriminating nose can discern a hint of baked bread, new-mown hay, lavender, and other scents that call up memories of field, home and hearth.
As they were starting out, Jennifer came up with a fragrance they incorporated into a candle called “A Warm Hug,” which was perfect for shut-ins and others at the height of the pandemic.
“It was a best-seller,” she said. “We’re going to be bringing it back for this Christmas season.”
The candles are made from natural soy oil, which they also use for soy wax melts.
“A lot of candle companies use paraffin which is made from petroleum,” Scott said. “Our candles are made from soybeans which grow in Kansas, and they burn twice as long.
“We want to be sustainable so we recycle boxes and use natural products wherever we can,” he said.
They are big supporters of Ellinwood as well as area artists and entrepreneurs. They have a selection of goat-milk soaps and their walls are decorated with works rendered by local artists.
They even have “On Tap Saturdays,” in which locals can bring their old jars and tins and transform them into a functional keepsake.
“We’d love to bring more people to Ellinwood,” Scott said. “It has historic underground tunnels, lots of antique stores, and good restaurants.”
Wholesale orders have reached both coasts and the company, in its seventh year, has a strong local following. “We concentrate first on our wholesale orders, then we work in special orders that people are bringing in,” Jennifer said.