Founded in 2020, Spoken Flames uses candles — and augmented reality — to engage more than just your sense of smell.
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Credit: Spoken Flames

Shavaun Christian really knows the round-the-clock grind of living in New York City — and working as a full-time entrepreneur. Three years ago, the advertising creative was running her own booming business, catering to small companies and solopreneurs, when familiar symptoms of burnout began to creep in.

Naturally, Christian turned to self-care — practicing positive self-talk, repeating affirmations, and lighting her favorite candles — to reset, feel grounded, and balance the chaos of her professional career. While those candles filled the room with pleasant scents, they didn't come with any other perks for her self-care routine. Plus, the packaging just always felt impersonal in some way, she explains. "Then I made this connection of, 'What if I just made a more immersive, more personal candle experience?'" says Christian. 

After roughly a year and a half of testing out wicks and waxes in her Brooklyn apartment, Christian launched Spoken Flames, a handcrafted candle company that aims to create intimate, multi-sensory experiences by pairing high-quality candles with captivating tech. By lighting one of her six candles, you'll hear the soothing crackling of the wooden wick, see the golden shimmer of the coconut wax, and smell the rich aromas. Plus, each candle jar is stamped with an uplifting message, such as "Fearless" or "I can. I will. I did." And to make the self-care experience totally bespoke, Christian drew on her background in digital advertising design to develop Instagram filters that use augmented reality to bring each of her candle's message to life.

"It's literally like a self-awareness exercise that's sparked by this candle," explains Christian. "You're really engaging how you feel, what you see, what you smell, and then you use that to help you assess [how you're feeling] in the moment. I think candles were the perfect medium to kind of create the very introspective, self-reflective moment." (Related: The 10 Best Scented Candles for Creating a Serene Space)

Spoken Flames' I can. I will. I did. candle on a table with a blanket
Credit: Spoken Flames

To try it yourself, head to Spoken Flames' Instagram filter page and use your phone's camera to scan the lid of one of the candles. In seconds, the candle's message will virtually pop up in your space, emojis will look like they're floating in the air, and a secret audible affirmation will play to put you in the right headspace for your self-care practice.

"Just this moment of activating the affirmation through augmented reality almost imprints it in your brain," says Christian. "Even when the candle is on the mantle and it's not activated, you still have that message, have that memory, have that feeling, all sparked by a Spoken Flames candle."

Spoken Flames' Augmented Reality Experience
Credit: Spoken Flames

Spoken Flames' Focused candle — which is scented with a calming blend of sandalwood, eucalyptus, and vanilla — is synced with an artistic 60-second spoken word performance to motivate and get you in the groove. Other Spoken Flames products, including the best-selling Light It into Existence candle, are paired with 15-second affirmations written by Christian herself and spoken by various voiceover artists. As the business grows, Christian says she hopes to partner with more spoken word poets to create one-of-a-kind, minute-long audio performances to go with every candle.  (ICYMI, here's a recap of Amanda Gorman's groundbreaking inauguration poem.)

Spoken Flames' Focused Candle on a table
Credit: Spoken Flames

Experienced together, Christian hopes these features shift a candle's purpose in your home. Instead of seeing it as solely an air freshener, the candle can also become something that calms, resonates, and inspires. "It's not just a good-smelling product — though I've been very cautious and intentional about the scents I've chosen," she explains. "It's truly an item in your home that reminds you that you're great and supports you and your senses." (Related: How to Design Your Home to Boost Your Mood and Curb Stress)

By creating this intimate, innovative candle experience, Christian and her company are making "me time" more meaningful and mindful for everyone. "We all only have one life to live, so feeling the best way you can in your body is really important," she says.