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Issue Date: June 2010 Issue


Home Brew

Terra Verde Soap & Candle Co.’s animal- and planet-friendly approach add up to an intoxicating line of handmade products.

Miranda S. Miller

SOMETIMES THE BEST ideas are found at the bottom of an empty beer bottle.               

Melissa Klimo-Major’s abundance of empties provided the jolt of inspiration that got her Terra Verde Soap & Candle Co. off the ground last September.               

“I knew that I wanted to do minimal packaging and that I wanted to do candles,” the entrepreneur recalls. “I just woke up one morning and thought, beer bottles. [My husband, Sean, and I are] beer drinkers, and we recycle, so we’ve got lots of bottles.”               

Nine months later, what started with soy candles poured into sawed-off beer and wine bottles has grown into a line that also encompasses natural soap and an array of lotion bars. She even makes beer soap, which is desired for its thick lather. And, as Klimo-Major will now never forget, the beer must be flat before using it in her recipe. “At my worst moment, I figured, How bad could a little carbonation be?” she says. “It’s kind of bad. It did not smell good. … It was a train wreck to clean up.”               

But through all the trials and errors, Klimo-Major has launched an innovative, sought-after line of products. The name Terra Verde stems from Klimo-Major’s love of Latin America and her Spanish language lessons. She and Sean have traveled to Costa Rica twice and Chile once. The couple had planned a trip to Peru last year, but after sales of the couple’s recycled candles and vegan soap took off, the business became their focus.               

Now, Klimo-Major is conjuring up mojito lotion bars ($5), rum-flavored lip balm ($4) and candle scents reminiscent of vacations ($12.50-$28). Just smell the Blue Sunset candle. With its blue agave, citrus and rosewood base, it’s “a very Mexico vacationy candle,” she says. Others include one that smells like green grass, another like red wine, and some that aren’t so discernible by their name, like Summer Crush, which blends magnolia, peach and hibiscus.               

“Sometimes a word will get stuck in my head, and I’ll want to name a scent after that,” she says. Other times her mom calls her with a request. “She wants me to name a candle Peace, but we haven’t quite decided what that’s going to smell like yet.”




On Tap


Morocco lotion bar
Carnation, sandalwood and musk $5

Hemp soap
Unrefined hempseed oil $6

Peach Wine Space Cowboy candle
Kumquat, guava, fig and soy $24.50

Cleveland Gray soap
Australian black clay and Japanese peppermint essential
oil $6


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