Jessica Ann Hessing creating a batch of hand-poured candles. CONTRIBUTED

When local marine life artist and entrepreneur Jessica Ann Hessing wanted to have a candle collection that coordinated with her art but it didn’t exist, she set out to create her own line of candles. In April 2022, Islamorada Candle Co. was born. Next month is its one-year anniversary.

“I love business, and I’m always helping other friends with their businesses. I had been painting full-time for 10 years and had never found candles I wanted to sell here, so I thought I would start our own line,” Hessing said. “I started the research process in December of 2021 and really researched for about five months before buying materials.”

Hessing is originally from the Keys, while her husband, Chris Hessing, is from Bradenton. They met during college in Key West and then made their way up to the Upper Keys.

“I sourced recycled glass from Spain and sustainable cork tops. I also researched wax and discovered coconut apricot wax, which works well because it’s a renewable wax and looks nice even when it’s hot, versus soy wax,” Hessing said.

The candles are hand-poured in small batches in their Jessica Ann Art Gallery in Islamorada by her husband, who is also behind the scenes with Jessica Ann Art.

“Jessica Ann Art has been at the 151 Morada Way location for about 3 ½ years, and we do everything in-house,” she said. “There is a lot of math that goes into it – for example, how much fragrance oil goes into each one.” They also use luxury fragrance oils that are cruelty-free, phthalate-free, skin safe, and made in the U.S.

“Wicks are super important, and most people do not realize this,” she continued. “Finding the right wick takes time and testing. Our wooden wicks have the crackle and are ethically sourced and produced in the USA. Everyone assumes a wick is a wick; however, the wick can vary by the fragrance oil being used. Some wicks will have a booster, some are longer, and some are wider. Watching the burn time hours and making changes to the wick is essential.”

Their two sons, Griffin, 5, and Bennett, 8, are also involved. 

“The boys love it. Bennett made his own fragrance for the family members. His favorite scent is Sandbar. Griffin likes to see the designs and helps with shipping and putting the labels on the boxes. Griff’s favorite scent is Key Lime,” Jessica Ann Hessing said. 

“My favorite scent is Oceanside; my husband’s is Bayside,” she laughs as she shares how they all have different favorites.

Her sister, Kelsey Cecil, runs the websites and social media for both Jessica Ann Art and Islamorada Candle Co. 

Islamorada Candle Co. offers six scents as part of its everyday collection: Bayside, Ocean Side, Rum Runner, Key Lime, Old Road, and Sandbar. Each name and corresponding scent has a local Keys flair. Each of the scents comes in three sizes — travel tin, 8-ounce candles, and 12-ounce candles.

Burn times are significant to any candle lover; Hessing explained, “40 to 50 hours on the 8-ounce, 60-plus on the 12-ounce, and the travel tins can be up to 20 hours. So it’s important to ensure you trim the wick in between and not keep it under a fan to have a longer burn time.”

When asked about best sellers, Hessing said, “Different locations vary — Olive Morada may sell more Key Lime Pie and Rum Runner. We sell more Oceanside and Old Road as we are close to the Old Road and the ocean. And then whatever we are pouring in-house may be the top seller for the day.”

She is also very excited to offer customized wholesale scents and label designs to other retailers, event planners and entrepreneurs, such as real estate agents, who may need unique gifts for clients.

Some local businesses that carry custom wholesale candles are Florida Keys Brewing Co, which has a scent called Iguana Bait after one of its beers. Mary Jane’s Closet in the Lower Keys, which opened a retail and coffee shop by the Square Grouper, has three signature scents. Sandbar Books created its own “Keysy” book scent with a Key Lime blend. Evolve Boutique created a lavender pineapple with a eucalyptus scent. Lisa Lee, who is a local artist, mixed her two favorite scents together to make her own scent.

What does it take to create your own wholesale custom candle? “After we meet to gauge what they are thinking, I create three to four samples to try. That takes about two weeks. Then it takes about two weeks to test the wick, and we make the label. There is a design fee for the label and a testing fee. The minimums are 24 per scent per size.” To buy from their line, not custom, the minimum is 24 candles, and they can mix and match scents.

Between her incredible art and booming candle business, Hessing has been keeping very busy. “I still haven’t made a custom blend for my art collections yet,” she said with a chuckle. But, maybe she will soon, we will look forward to those scents too.
Islamorada Candle Co. is open seven days a week from noon to 5 p.m. Visit and follow on Instagram and Facebook @islamoradacandleco.

Melinda Van Fleet is a certified life and business coach/mentor, owner of Good Karma Sportfishing with her husband, Ryan, speaker and bestselling author of "Confidence Mastery for Couples" and "Life & Love Lessons." She is also the weekly podcast host of "You Have The Power Too!" You can connect with her more at