During quarantine, Michelle Hawkins found herself with something she rarely had as the editor and publisher of Alabama Weddings Magazine for the past 20 years: free time.
After Hawkins sold her business in December 2020, it wasn’t long until she figured out what she wanted to do next.
She began making hand-poured soy candles. To add a special, unique touch, she customizes each one with gemstones and dried flowers on top and a charm bracelet wrapped around the lid that can be removed and worn.
A resident of Indian Springs and the wife of an airline pilot, Hawkins came up with the name Indian Springs Custom Gifts to make her products local to the area.
“We travel a lot, and it’s nice to have something local from the areas we visit,” she said.
Instead of putting candles in the name, she decided to make it gifts, as she has future plans to add products to her collection.
“I wanted to do something I personally love and enjoy,” Hawkins said. “After doing some research, I started [candle-making] from scratch. It was pretty easy, but the main thing is keeping up with measurements and not going overboard on scents.”
Hawkins works with essential oils as well as designer fragrance oils. Her candles have top notes, middle notes and base notes, so the smell changes as the candle burns further down.
Her summer fragrances include lemongrass mojito, volcanic honey, Mayan sand, jasmine musk, bohemian spa, Southern caramel, Caribbean teak, lavender and chamomile, prosecco jubilee, ocean bliss and Moku Pua paradise. Others to come include mulberry sorbet and goodbye bugs. Along with gemstones, she uses dried flowers, often from her own backyards, to give each candle a distinct look.
“I go around to stores like Michael’s, Hobby Lobby and JOANN and shop for jewelry and charms, glass beads, stones and shells,” she said. “I hand-string them to personalize each one. I enjoy it. I put love into it. I want people to enjoy them.”
Hawkins plans to add soaps, body products like bath bombs and lip balms, and even a cookbook to her collection.
“I have been thinking about the cookbook for a while,” she said. “Being in the wedding industry, I have found that a lot of couples start a home together, and cooking is the furthest thing from their mind, but eating out is very expensive and not the healthiest. Being home together and eating at home is a special bonding time. I want to pass down the traditions of cooking.”
The cookbook will include Southern comfort foods, like casseroles and slow cooker meals. Hawkins said people who don’t enjoy going to the grocery stores can get overwhelmed with having so many ingredients for a recipe.
Many of her recipes will come from her travels, including her gumbo recipe from New Orleans and beef stroganoff from Germany.
As a bonus mom of four boys, Hawkins knows how much they love her home-cooked meals, and she wants to share them with others.
Items from Indian Springs Custom Gifts are available for purchase at Bloom and Petal on U.S. 280 in Greystone and at Misc. Lu Gifts and Apparel on Valleydale Road.
For more information, visit Indian Springs Custom Gifts on Instagram @indian_springs_gifts.