The Skinny Dip Story

Back in 2004, Karen and Laurel Porter, an entrepreneurial mother-daughter team, came up with the concept of a cosmetic-grade body candle. That idea came as the result of participating in a holiday craft fair. Having made traditional candles in the past, they had taken out a booth to sell their highly scented room candles at the fair. Across from them in another booth was a woman selling soy candles.

In her sales presentation, the soy candle maker was dipping her finger into the melted soy wax to show that it was a cool burning wax. All day they saw people “ooh” and “aaah” and express how cool it was that someone could dip their fingers into the wax. (They knew, however, that a regular candle, even a soy one, has far too much fragrance oil in it to ever be safe for use on the skin — so please be aware of this.)

Based on this experience, they wondered if they could develop a candle intended for body use — one full of body nourishing ingredients proven to do great things for the skin. They also knew that any product intended for use on the body would require knowledge and application of FDA guidelines during production and in marketing, so they did research and learned the ropes of producing body products.

They then set out to formulate a unique and novel body candle that would actually perform as intended. They experimented with lots of potential ingredients, and by trial and error and lots of testing, they finally arrived at an ingredient mix that delivered excellent moisture to the skin, effective slide for use in massage, and a lot of fun in application.

From there they needed to name the candle and develop their brand. More challenging than they had expected, they found it very difficult to come up with a great name. After lots of thought, numerous brainstorms — and their admitted share of wine (which stimulates creativity, right? ; ) — they had come up dry. Then, in the middle of one night, Karen woke up with “Skinny Dip Candles” appearing from nowhere. Why and how it just popped into her head, she says she’ll never know. But it was perfect. They loved the fact that the name figuratively represented how the candle is used — just “dip in and use it on your skin.” And the fact that it’s a fun, catchy name that people tend to remember, certainly didn’t hurt!

At the time they created the candle, the intent was to simply sell it in the retail store they owned in Austin, TX. They knew it could be a way to differentiate their store from other gift shops in the area, and as they had hoped, the Skinny Dip Candle became an immediate, runaway hit. By simply demonstrating the candle in the store and introducing it to customers, they sold hundreds and hundreds of them.

Not only was the candle unique and novel, but the fact that it did wonderful things for people’s skin made it practical and useful as well. As word spread, the Porters started to get interest from other retailers. They also got inquiries from people outside of Austin who wanted to know where they could buy Skinny Dip Candles.

In response to that, they launched in 2006 to sell Skinny Dip Candles across the U.S. and Canada (and beyond). They also began modest wholesaling of Skinny Dip Candles to retailers. As the business grew, it became difficult to juggle our retail store with the growing wholesale and website businesses. In mid-2006 they made the decision to move away from bricks and mortar retail and focus on the wholesale and website sides of the business.

In the spring of 2008, Karen and Laurel moved the business 2000 miles across the country to rejoin the rest of their family in their hometown of Missoula, Montana. They found an awesome production facility that became a home away from home.

After the move, the business continued to grow. The original 12 Skinny Dip Candle grew to over 30. They added a 1 oz. “Skinny Mini” Skinny Dip Candle, as well as a line of “edible” (flavored) Skinny Dip Candles. And, there’s natural lip balm, too!

At last count they had shipped to every state in the union, all but one of the Canadian provinces, and to 23 foreign countries on 5 continents. The website business has blossomed and wholesale accounts have expanded.

Karen and Laurel – and Patty, who purchased Skinny Dip Candles in the fall of 2012 – truly feel blessed that their customers have found pleasure and value in Skinny Dip Candles and our other Skinny Dip products. And they can’t thank enough those who have helped the business grow by offering the greatest compliment of all — that of repeat business and the referral of others.