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Thursday, February 2, 2023
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@Work: Caribbean Herbals and Candles

Feb. 3, 2005 – Jason Budsan stands in front of cauldrons all day long, stirring the bubbling brews he's created. Each pot emits the wonderful flavors of the tropics, including local favorites, such as Mango in de Shell, Lime in de Coconut, Exotic Ginger Fig Coconut and Voodoo Love Potion #9. You might think a long draw on any of the above would be the perfect way to quench a tropical thirst. You would be wrong. Budsan's creations surely smell much better than they taste. That's because these concoctions, delicious as they sound, are actually on their way to becoming candles, soaps and incense.
"I'm de candle mon," he says with a laugh.
Since 1999, Budsan has been selling to the general public, gift shops and hotels–a departure from his earlier career in the hotel and restaurant business. After getting a bachelor's degree from Johnson and Wales University Budson got to work in local hotels, but he was developing a little something on the side that was garnering more attention. He created scented and flavored olive oils and vinegars. After Hurricane Marilyn, Budsan decided to take the leap and start his own business.
"The timing was right," he says. "All the hotels were doing poorly after the hurricane."
Budsan decided to use his scents and flavors in candles. He was instructed in the fine art of candlemaking by a gentleman who had been making scented candles for 30 years. Budsan has been refining the process ever since, surrounding himself with scents of Night Jasmine, Frenchie Connection (a mix of lavendar and vanilla) and Ripe Pineapple.
To make the wonderfully scented candles, Budsan starts with high-quality wax, made for high sheen and gloss. He mixes it with a translucent wax until he reaches just the right consistency. The wax either gets poured into a shell (the most popular) or becomes a pillar candle wrapped in sea grape leaves. There are candles in brushed silver containers with names like Fresh Citrus Basil and Tropical Ginger Lime. Gel candles in small glass bowls have sea life – sand dollars or pink sea urchins – suspended in an aqua blue gel. There is also Kaleid-O-Soap, which is a mango- and papaya-scented bar made with chunks of colorful Caribbean-colored soap. Everything is hand-poured in his customer-friendly studio in Tillett Gardens.
"It's special. It's an artisan's oasis," Budsan says. "When you're frantically looking for the next gift to give, you want to bring something that's truly made in the Caribbean. Tourists want to prove they've been here."
Does he come up with new scents? "I try to keep it consistent," says Budsan. "I get a lot of requests, but I don't do it unless I can be sure of a steady supply."
That said, he is adding one more thing to his creative palette – incense.
"I'm fine-tuning it. I want to have colors coordinate with the scent. I have Starfruit Mango, Voodoo Love Potion #9 and Sex on the Beach."
In 2004, Budsan was named Small Business Person of the Year by the UVI-Small Business Development Center.
Caribbean Herbals and Candles can be found in about 10 stores in the territory, you can order by mail, and the door at his Tillett Gardens studio is open between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Monday-Friday.
"I really love this island. This is home. I hope the candles bring a little piece of the islands home with people," he says.
Visit the website at www.caribbeanherbals.com or call (888) 326-2591.

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