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Patricia, Affinity Plus Member

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Building a Sustainable Candle Business

  • Member Stories
Making a candle and building a business are similar pursuits for Karis Montanez. 
A headshot of a Karis Montanez smilingIt’s about more than just putting pieces together and selling them. It’s about building something meaningful, sustainable, and personal that you share with your community.

And that’s the goal behind Pryor Lake, Karis’ business selling handmade candles in concrete vessels, which she also makes.

“As artists, what you make, it’s your baby,” Karis said. “It’s not just a candle, it’s me behind it. I’m presenting myself, a piece of myself.”

And because she’s an artist, Karis knew she wanted to be her own boss. She didn’t want to have to make creative decision by committee, and wanted to ensure her vision for her products came to life in the right way.

“I’ve always had that in the back of my mind as something I wanted to do,” Karis said. 

Pryor Lake candles are 100% soy wax combined with premium ingredients, prioritizing quality over profit. Each one contains complex scents in stylish, handcrafted cement vessels made for modern living. 

She’d grown up surrounded by creatives and makers, and realized she had a knack for interior design. It’s a passion she shares with her mom, and during their conversations, she’d often remark about liking the scent of the candles in the room but not their look. 

So she looked into making her own, and with a background in marketing, knew she’d have to differentiate her product in a competitive market. Which led her to discover cement production and design, and how it’s sustainable and low-impact on the environment. 

Karis knew she had a winning combination, and when she decided to start her business, she turned to her long-time banking partner, Affinity Plus. She’d done a project on Affinity Plus in a marketing class at St. Cloud State University, and working with the employees had been a breeze. She’s been a member with Affinity Plus ever since.

“They were always so helpful and nice,” Karis said. “So when I was looking at business banking options, I thought back to how nice and personal the treatment was at Affinity Plus. 

Pryor Lake also sells ceramic trays for the candles and trinkets, and Karis has plans to start producing additional home décor products in the near future. As long as she’s still enjoying the creative work, Karis intends to grow her business in a sustainable way.

“It’s been really fun, every time I leave a makers’ market event (like the Farmer’s Market), I just feel so in love with the craft all over again,” she said. “I’m so beyond blessed in how people have received the brand and the products.”

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