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An online artisanal candle store is now operating out of Tuscaloosa. Southern Soy is known for making handcrafted candles in Alabama, but also offers other specialty items such as body wash, car fresheners and home decor.

Kristina Wright Miller, Southern Soy's owner and operator, said that she began making candles in July 2017 as a way to keep herself occupied after her father passed away unexpectedly earlier that year.

"I was just looking for different things to fill my time to get my mind off of everything else going on," Miller said. "So we did a bunch of different things: we traveled [and] went out of the country, took on just like small little projects around the house, did puzzles, and I finally came up with the idea to make candles with my two kids. We realized after heating up the wax and everything it wasn't really a kid-friendly activity, but I continued with it and I enjoyed it. It kept my mind off of things and I just really enjoyed making candles."

While she was making candles, Miller was also working full-time at a medical technology company in Mobile prior to moving to Tuscaloosa. Miller said that she and her family moved to Tuscaloosa this year so her husband, Grady could manage the Foosackly's on 15th Street which opened over the summer.

(Photo courtesy of Kristina Wright Miller)

With the move, Miller was able to focus solely on her business venture and create more intricate candle designs. Some of her more complex offerings have come from events that she has lived through or things that interest her. For example, Miller created a Harry Potter-themed gift set which included handcrafted pictures that were inspired by the movies.

"Pretty much everything is my interest and I know that there is like these little niches that there is some interest in it and it might not be the most popular thing, but it's always something that I love, like I love Harry Potter," Miller said. "We have a Cardinal gift set that is kind of from losing my family members that I have lost and I thought that would be a great gift idea for other people, that and then like The Handmaid's Tale candle that's something that I love, I love that show."

Miller said that she hopes to one day open her own physical store to be able to teach others how to make their own personalized candles.

"In the future, I would love to have a brick-and-mortar store where I could teach people how to make candles and they could come up with their own artwork for the labels," Miller said. "Just so everything can be very customized."

For more information, check out Southern Soy's website here.