BALTIMORE — Ashley Yuen's kitchen is not only where she and her husband Matt cook and eat. It is also where they create products for their new side company, Lark Candles.
"I want each candle to tell a story and make a memory," said Yuen.
The inspiration for many of the scents and names of the candles come from Yuen's professional life as a teacher. She currently works as a first grade teacher at St. Stephen School in Kingsville.
The candle Teacher's Pet has the aroma of coffee and hazelnut. "It is inspired by the fact that many teachers often thrive on lots of caffeine," she said with a laugh.
"I had to do a classic apple candle because teachers and apples just go together," she said when talking about the Apple Pie for the Teacher, which smells of apple and vanilla.
Then there are scents and names that tap into Yuen's personal life and a great loss she suffered in the year 2020.
"I lost both of my parents within 9 months of each other, and after I lost them, I wanted to do something to remember them but also help out teachers so I started Lark Candles."
The Self-Care Sunday candle smells of lavender, a scent Yuen's mother loved. Into the Woods has a wood-sy smell and reminds Yuen of her father, who was an Eagle Scout.
Yuen said her mom always told her whatever she does, she should do it to help others. Its what motivated Yuen to become a teacher and decide to donate part of the proceeds of her new company to helping other teachers.
"Our goal for this candle company is to make it where no teacher has to worry about how they’re going to supply materials for their students," said Yuen.
10 percent of each candle sold goes into a grant. Over the summer, the company gave out two, 100-dollar grants to teachers. One of the recipients was Stefanie Drab, a kindergarten teacher at Shawboro Elementary School in Shawboro, North Carolina.
"I think I was more excited for my class and excited for the opportunities they were going to have," said Drab. "A lot of the items they purchased are things most kids wouldn’t really have at home."
Drab said the grant paid for STEM items off her Amazon wish-list, like a flower-growing kit. She said her students love having the new items to use in the classroom.
"Other teachers have seen the positive outcome of this so its encouraged them to look for grants too. There are people out there who want to help teachers."
And that's what this company is all about for Yuen, giving teachers the resources so their students can shine their brightest. She knows her parents would be beaming with pride.
"I know they would be thrilled and very proud to know that their memory is living on by helping out other teachers across the country."
Yuen said they hope to give out more grants by the end of the year. To purchase a candle, click here. You can also follow them on Instagram @lark.candles