Harlem Candle Co. Founder Teri Johnson Creates Notes of Icons

By Isoul Hussein Harris | August 16, 2022


When thinking of the 19th century abolitionist Frederick Douglass, which comes to mind: arresting orator or arresting fragrance? Teri Johnson, founder and owner of Harlem Candle Co. (@harlemcandlecompany), would choose the former—by her design. Literally. “My favorite candles include Frederick, one of our newest additions to the product roster,” says Johnson of the candle she created in homage to Douglass. “Frederick has a beautiful citrus scent, and I love the combination of suede, bergamot and cardamom blended beautifully to create this intoxicating scent.”

Bishop T.D. Jakes once famously quipped, “Those that see what others don’t will do what others can’t.” Teri Johnson has a vision. After enjoying a swell of praise and applause for a round of homemade candles she gifted her friend circle, she did what any chic and clever hustler would do: She secured an LLC for Harlem Candle Co.

Next, she enlisted expert help from her network (a friend who is a chemist by trade). And, lastly, the most integral and potent element of all: a story. Harlem is the most famous neighborhood in history. And that history resonated with Johnson. “I decided to use the Harlem Renaissance (the period that I love) as inspiration for my business’ fragrances, packaging and design.”

And it’s no coincidence that her collection of candles—including the Moroccan-influenced Josephine, Speakeasy, Langston, The Renaissance and Love inspired by James Baldwin’s garden—have invoked a comfort and security for her customers, just as that era did for Harlemites and people of color nationwide.

“People have been stuck inside their homes and wanted to feel relaxed and at peace during these trying times,” Johnson continues. “Our candles provided them that, while also sharing the history of Harlem icons.”