Big Sky’s 1889 Wax Lighting Creates Candles That Pay Homage to the State

Meet the brand that's fragrantly Montana
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A Big Sky candle company leans heavily into the ethos of what makes Montana, Montana. Built with the intent to serve the community, this small business keeps it local. | Photography by Kaitlyn Porter

A shared passion for nature and the arts sparked a friendship between John Berezny and Tanner Lent. Shortly after college, the duo met while working at Big Sky Resort, skiing on their off days. Often, Lent would break out his camera and capture their lives in Big Sky. When seasonal work at the resort grew tiring, Berezny and Lent set out to flex their creative muscles in a professional setting. “We started designing websites together and enjoyed expressing our artistic sides,” says Berezny. That’s when the notion of starting a business together began, and 10 years later, 1889 Wax Lighting was born.

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LEFT: Co-owners John Berezny and Tanner Lent began the company with the idea to celebrate their state. RIGHT: Each year, the 1889 Wax Lighting team heads to North Carolina to showcase their product at the annual High Point Market.

“We knew our business was going to pay homage to Montana before we knew the product,” says Lent. The idea to create candles was tossed around and stuck when Berezny and Lent agreed on a name. “1889 Wax Lighting is a nod to the year Montana became a state,” explains Lent. In the early days of Montana’s statehood, wax lighting and candles were the primary light sources. “We name our fragrances by playing into that year.” With candles called Preacher and Renegade, the company branding has a vintage yet ethereal feel.

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Montana artists sculpt the hand-blown glass containers that serve as vessels for the candles. Each candle becomes a one-of-a-kind piece.

In addition to the founders, 1889 Wax Lighting contracts with a handful of glassblowers and ceramicists from Montana. The company’s products are molded by Montanans, including the hand-thrown clay pots by Bozeman artisans. In as many ways as possible, the incorporate the state. But sourcing locally isn’t the sole pillar of the company. Berezny and Lent say they want 1889 Wax Lighting to be a vessel for local contractors to grow their own businesses. “The Mountain West is built on a foundation of hard work and handshakes,” says Lent. “We wanted our company to follow suit.”

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One of many natural fragrances, Trapper embodies damp earth. Combining oakmoss, oud, cloves and deep amber, the scent illuminates life in the outdoors. The burn time of the single-wick candle totals 40 hours.

The end product is a high-quality soy wax candle poured into a vessel made of clay, blown glass or tin. Each piece has touched roughly eight hands throughout the production process. Opting for a simplistic design, the candles pair elegantly with any décor. While the business increased in momentum, Lent and Berezny started pitching their product to retailers that also offer design services. “We have a large client base of wholesalers, but we really love working with interior designers. They’re able to display our product in their showrooms or across different residential projects,” says Berezny. Leaning into the company’s collaborative ideals, working with a creative demographic excites the team.

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1889 Wax Lighting products are meant to be displayed. Frequently appearing in designer showrooms, the company branding integrates with any design aesthetic. The sleek yet minimal appearance allows the scent to take center stage.

Their next big venture is to open a brick-and-mortar shop in Big Sky or Bozeman. “Our products represent what Montanans can create, which resonates with our clients and customers,” says Berezny.

Categories: Artists & Artisans