Caskey Hunsader is not a candle maker by trade. Having no experience at all, he started his own company, Stagedoor Candle Co., this past July, all out of his one bedroom apartment in Harlem.
“They sell these fancy gadgets for putting wicks in, that are like spring-loaded and you center them over the jar. But this is just a Bic pen that I drilled a hole in and it works perfectly,” Hunsader chuckled while working.
In fact, up until March of last year, Hunsader was working as a long time stage manager in New York City, including a yearly gig at the Radio City Music Hall "Christmas Spectacular," that was sadly cancelled this season.
“So for a lot of the summer we were hoping that there was gonna be a way for us to do the show safely, and I know that everybody up top tried their best to figure out a plan to do it but as time went by they realized there wasn’t really a safe way to do it. We kind of knew it was coming but it was hard to hear it officially being said," Hunsader said of the "Christmas Spectacular" cancellation.
Most recently Hunsader was on the road for the touring production of "Miss Saigon." As was the case for many shows, the pandemic caused the tour to be cancelled back in March.
“So I’ve had to cash out my retirement account which is really frustrating because that’s a decade’s worth of work that’s supposed to be there for my future that I’ve now had to burn through to pay bills,” said Hunsader.
Finding himself out of work for the indefinite future, Hunsader pivoted, creating an online shop of theater themed candles, essential oils and room sprays, deriving names from well-known musicals. A portion of every sale is donated to Broadway Cares/Equity Fights Aids.
“I wanted to make it somehow connected to the industry that I work in, so to give people a connection to theater and since so many folks can’t come see our theaters this is tying the scents and the fragrances to characters, kind of lets them bring the Broadway show into their own home," he said.
Hunsader envisions selling to retailers wholesale, or becoming a merchandiser for a show once Broadway returns. But until then, you can find his products at stagedoorcandles.com.
“At the end of the day a candle is really just a glob of wax with a little bit of smelly fragrance in it. But what I think makes my candle special is connecting them to [the] theater world,” Hunsader concluded.