Candle Maker Brittany Torres of Hamptons Handpoured Captures the Essence of the East End
For most local artisans, the fabled Hamptons light is a frequent source of inspiration, but for candle maker Brittany Torres, light is the end result. To her, the sense of smell is paramount, the driving force behind Hamptons Handpoured, her brand-new line of soy-based handmade candles.
A resident of East Quogue and a Southampton High School grad, Torres is deeply familiar with the East End and the quirks that make each of its villages distinct, and her collection of six candles reflects those personality differences. Her Southampton candle, for instance, conjures up fresh cotton, while Bridgehampton evokes the scent of freshly shorn grass and East Hampton smells richly of strawberry and fig. Sag Harbor has a deep, smoky scent; Montauk emits notes of warm, smooth sandalwood; and Westhampton is infused with calming balsam and lavender.
Starting her own business was an accidental affair. Two years ago, the 29-year-old experienced a bout of fatigue and chronic headaches. After a fainting spell, she knew something was wrong and underwent a battery of tests, discovering that she had a vitamin B12 deficiency. The diagnosis led her to investigate homeopathic remedies and the healing properties of essential oils. Torres had always loved candles, and the proverbial “light at the end of my tunnel” was lit, she says.
Torres buys essential oils wholesale and carefully mixes them according to her own fine-tuned recipes for each scent. In order to produce a dozen 6.75-ounce candles of the same type, she melts four pounds of soy-based wax flakes to 185 degrees in one of six Presto crockpots (each is assigned to a specific candle, to avoid sullying the scents) and adds eight ounces of fragrance. She then stirs the ingredients for at least two minutes, clockwise for a minimum of 20 strokes, then counterclockwise for the same, to form an even consistency.
When the mixture is thoroughly blended, Torres transfers it to a steel pitcher and carefully pours it into nickel-free leaded-glass candle bases, in which wax-coated cotton wicks affixed to the bottom are supported by a metal wick bar across the top (the latter keeps the wicks upright while the candles are drying). After about 12 hours, when the wax has completely settled and cooled, Torres places a brightly colored label on each.
For now, the young entrepreneur is whipping up her aromatic creations in a back room of a retail shop in Southampton, where she’s the manager. But while she has big dreams for expanding her small startup, she has no intention of abandoning her roots on the East End. “Starting this business has been a great way to connect with the community,” she says, “and I’ll treasure this beautiful place forever.”
A version of this article appeared in the June 2015 issue of Hamptons Cottages & Gardens with the headline: Scent of a Woman.