Happy Camper Candle is owned and operated by Tara McGonigal Coppola. After a good number of years working in college athletics I wanted a more flexible schedule I could tailor around my two children. I also craved more creative work, off the beaten path of the 9-5 routine. After dabbling in a few other ventures I discovered a love for candlemaking. Alas, I didn't transition into making candles full-time alone. So the story of Happy Camper Candle is one of community, friendship, mentorship, support, and a lifetime of appreciation for all the people who have been a part of this in some way.
I work part-time in a little indie bookshop on the north fork of Long Island owned by a lifelong friend and fortunately, our shop shares a wall with The Weathered Barn, a lifestyle boutique owned by Rena and Jason Wilhelm. They create beautiful soy candles with their own finely crafted custom fragrance blends and were very generous and supportive in their mentorship as I started up my own company. Once I learned the basics of making candles I had to take on the business side of things. Another north fork artisan and business owner Alexa Suess helped me formulate and fine-tune the vision I had for my company. My three sisters (one of whom owned her own coffee shop in the West Village of NYC for many years) and my kids, cousins, neighbors, friends and coworkers became my field testers for scent blends. My sister Erin, the other middle sister, has been an endless source of encouragement and is always up for scent-blending sessions. As my company grew, the feedback and support of my stockists became instrumental in the development of my candle lines. Whenever I doubt myself I channel the steadfast strength and optimism of my mom, a lifelong creative entrepreneur- seamstress, caterer, master bookkeeper, chef/baker and all-around superwoman, and my dad, a retired member of the FDNY who also owned a small oil-burner cleaning business and lifelong biggest fan of his four daughters in all their myriad of pursuits- surfing, swimming, running, basketball, volleyball, coffee, neverending pet adoption, bagpiping, candlemaking, etc. There were many artists who helped bring my vision for my company to life aesthetically, specifically Tracy Koch Roeser, Linda D'Avino, Kelly Mark and Whitney Regeth of Modern Hustle Studio along with beautiful photography by Tom Arato. And finally, my family, Kasey, Kyle and Scott, who have been a part of this from the start, from creating assembly lines to transport cases upon cases of jars and fragrances into my studio to putting up with my incessant requests to sniff new fragrance blends.
So this is the story of one candlemaker chasing her dream of living creatively, making the most of each day with her family and connecting to others through the art of handmade wares. I pour each and every candle by hand in small batches and hope the recipient feels the peace and magic I do when creating them. I am a pretty nostalgic and sentimental human and scent has always had the power to transport me to a beloved memory, be it of a person, place or experience. I am constantly drawing inspiration from those memories along with my love for being near the sea and in the woods, my favorite coffeeshops (Southdown, Aldo's, North Fork Roasting Company, Flux and Jack Jack's are HEAVEN!) and bookshops (Burton's, Theodore's, The Next Chapter) and anywhere my kids are...they are the most magical parts of my life!