Meet Justinas Bružas, Founder of CandleHand and CandleCan
We are proud to work with emerging designers, artists, and craftspeople from around the world to bring you products that are not just candles, but wax works of art — and we want to tell their stories. So we are taking a moment to sit down and have a conversation with each of the creative minds behind the candles.
Talking to us this time is Justinas Bružas, the Lithanian designer of the CandleHand hand gesture candles and the CandleCan scented food shaped candles. He was generous enough to speak with us about his process, inspiration, and the unique story of how he got into the business of creating this playful candle line.
54 Celsius: Let’s start with a quick introduction to you and your team.
Of course! My name is Justinas, and I’m a founder and designer at CandleHand. We are based in Vilnius, Lithuania, working with a team of about 15 people including my business partner, Ruta. She is the one responsible for sales and marketing, whereas I’m in charge of coming up with new candles, new shapes, and new ideas.
54 Celsius: Can you tell us a little more about your background? How did you get into candle-making?
It all started around 2010 when my father taught me how to make candles. He and his brother had made and sold candles for a time when he was younger and one day, I found his old candle molds in our basement. But they weren’t simple like regular candles, rather they were shaped like famous Lithuanian architectural buildings. It was the details of those molds that really impressed and inspired me.
So I asked him to teach me how to make candles using these forms. I really loved the process and it quickly became a hobby I was really passionate about. At that time, though, I was working as a project manager at an IT company, since my education was in computer science.
54 Celsius: Can you tell us more about that transition? How did you decide to make candles full-time?
Once I learned how to make candles, I was doing it all the time outside of work. Then one day I told Ruta — who was actually my boss at the IT company — about the idea of making hand-shaped candles. She loved it and we teamed up to make them full-time!
54 Celsius: Oh wow! So the IT company lost two employees that day.
Yes, exactly. (Laughs.)
Justinas Bružas: "You know that all our candles are made by hand?"
54 Celsius: Let’s back up. How did you come up with the idea for CandleHand?
You know that all our candles are made by hand? Well, one day as I was thinking about that, it struck me that it would be great to make an actual hand as a candle.
That’s when I started experimenting with making candles with various hand gestures. My first hand gesture candle was the fig hand. It’s not a popular symbol in the US — you’ll find it more in past Soviet countries. It’s similar to the middle finger, but a little bit softer.
So, I actually started my first website with three products: the peace sign, the middle finger, and the fig hand. After that, in time, we added new gestures to the collection. And then about two years ago, we connected to 54 Celsius through our partner and agent. He knew the team and thought we might make a great fit. So we all met in Paris at the Maison Objet trade show, and immediately hit it off. The rest is history.
54 Celsius: What has the response from customers been to the CandleHand?
We actually get a lot of feedback from our customers that it’s so nice they can’t burn it. They use it more like an interior design detail on a bookshelf or table. It’s actually not good for us as a business because people aren’t burning them and buy more! (Laughs.) But they can always add different candles and gestures to their collection.
54 Celsius: Where do you generally find inspiration for your designs?
Inspiration for me could be anything. Sometimes it’s something on Instagram or Pinterest. Sometimes I come up with ideas while walking in the forest or taking a shower. Basically, I get inspired everywhere.
I try to write all my ideas down as they come. I then filter them through colleagues and close friends to see what they like, and what we want to develop further.
54 Celsius: What about the CandleCan? How did that first come to life?
My inspiration behind the CandleCan was actually a regular can of food. I thought that it could be a great container for a candle — you peel off the lid and you can just feel the freshness. I thought it would be a fun, surprising moment to see the candle inside. And we would have that top lid, meaning we could lock in a scent.
From there, I spent about six months developing all of them. As it turns out, replicating the food inside the can was quite challenging. I remember cooking an egg in my oven over twenty times, just to get it perfect, so I could make a mold of a real egg for one of the CandleCans. It was hard work but at the same time, it was really quite fun.
54 Celsius: Are there any new products you’re working on right now that you’re particularly excited about?
Yes! We’re coming out with three new colors of our bestselling middle-finger candle soon -— all neon colors, very bright and cool. We’re also working on two new gestures to launch in January of next year, and we’ll be launching two new shapes of CandleCan: coffee beans and strawberries.
54 Celsius: Do you see yourself ever working with new materials outside of wax?
I’ve thought about that before, and I do have ideas for projects that aren’t made from wax or paraffin. But I really love the process of working with the wax.
Like, for example, when you fill up the mold, you have to wait at least one night for the wax to stiffen. And every time, as I’m waiting, I’m so excited to break open that mold and see how it goes. So I’ve decided to keep working with wax for now.
54 Celsius: Why stop when you’re still so passionate?