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Local Business Crafts Gorgeous Hand-Poured Candles Using Desert Flowers and Scents

After years of helping others start their businesses, Karem Ruiz Ayub decided to start her own.

Meraki Natural Balance is a hand-poured soy candle company in Phoenix, boasting pressed desert flowers and ingredients free of toxins and carcinogens—a revelation that sparked her entrepreneurial journey. “Many candles on the market could unknowingly impact our health due to their ingredients,” Ruiz Ayub says. You’ll find her candles at local boutiques around town, including a recently launched Candle Bar Experience at Retail Therapy AZ in Scottsdale Fashion Square.

We caught up with Ruiz Ayub to learn more about what lights her fire.

Q&A With Meraki Natural Balance Owner Karem Ruiz

Tell us about Meraki Natural Balance and why you started it.

Meraki Natural Balance is a Latin-owned company committed to crafting premium, eco-friendly candles that prioritize the safety of consumers, our loved ones and even our furry friends.

Our candles are meticulously crafted with the utmost care, utilizing only top-quality ingredients such as organic soy wax without any additives, certified clean fragrance oils, cotton wicks and pressed flowers. We take great pride in ensuring that each candle we produce exemplifies the highest quality standards, offering a truly luxurious experience to our valued customers.

The process of creating candles is both exhilarating and demanding, a challenge we willingly embrace. As an industrial engineer specializing in business development, my passion lies in candles, health and home decoration. While assisting others in starting their businesses and navigating through registrations and licenses, I encountered numerous inspiring stories.

Simultaneously, I harbored a long-standing desire to launch my own business. This led me to delve into the world of candles, driven by the realization that many candles on the market could unknowingly impact our health due to their ingredients. The journey to discover the perfect formula was extensive, aiming to meet three crucial criteria: candles with quality ingredients devoid of any toxic or carcinogenic agents, achieving the ideal balance of aroma and serving as impeccable home decor.

Is there any significance to the name?

Meraki is a Greek term embodying the essence of infusing soul, creativity or love into one’s work—a genuine investment of oneself. Interestingly, the word Meraki also incorporates my name when spelled backward. The concept of Natural Balance stems from the aspiration to strike a harmonious equilibrium using natural ingredients, allowing the tranquility of lighting a candle without concerns about your health in the short or long term. Thus, the name Meraki Natural Balance was born.

What inspires the scents you select for each candle?

Choosing fragrances has truly been the most enjoyable aspect of this journey for me, yet it’s also quite intricate. The scents I cherish might not always resonate with what consumers prefer. In the beginning, I aimed for a diverse array, encompassing floral, citrus, fruity and woody notes, alongside my personal favorites. Over time, I came to recognize which ones resonated most with our clients, which greatly informed the refinement of our collection to its current form. At every pop-up market we attend, customers often take their time deciding because they find each fragrance uniquely delightful. Among the most beloved are Cactus Flower + Jade, Sea Salt and Orchid, Sangria White Peach, Desert for Men and Morning Matcha.

Candle lovers are passionate about their wicks—do you prefer wood or cotton wicks?

Currently, in my collection, I utilize cotton wicks because they align well with the type of candle I offer. However, in seasonal collections, I’ve introduced crackling wooden wicks, which I adore. They create a cozy ambiance, reminiscent of having your own little campfire nearby. Without a doubt, I plan to incorporate them again in future collections.

You offer message candles, too. What sparked that?

Personalized candles have become a favorite for those who appreciate adding super special touches. Each time I receive an order for this type of candle, I’m filled with excitement to discover the secret message. Sometimes, I even find myself imagining the recipient’s reaction or contemplating the story behind each message. It’s truly thrilling to know that my candles become a part of these unique stories.

Do you have any memorable messages you can share?

The most romantic messages have included proposals like, “Will you be my girlfriend?” or, “Will you be my valentine?” along with heartfelt expressions like, “I love you infinitely,” and even some meaningful biblical passages. Among the most peculiar messages was one that simply said, “You are annoying.” Regardless, there’s a wide range of messages that I’ve incorporated into the candles—a truly enjoyable and fun process, without a doubt.

You have a full-time career, too. Tell us about that and how you balance this budding business.

Finding a balance between full-time work, running a small business and carving out quality time is quite the feat. As our business continues to grow, so does the complexity, requiring us, as small business owners, to juggle an array of responsibilities with flexibility.

One thing that’s been a game-changer for my husband and I is keeping a shared agenda. It’s our go-to tool for organizing our business tasks, personal commitments and ensuring we make time for relaxation and fun.

We cherish simple pleasures like leisurely walks, indulging in weekend breakfasts, exploring new coffee spots, admiring breathtaking sunsets, and of course, spending time with our beloved dogs Luna and Tobias.

Where can people find/buy your candles?

You’ll discover our candles at various locations across the Valley:

  • Retail Therapy AZ at Phoenix Convention Center
  • Retail Therapy AZ at Scottsdale Fashion Square
  • The Merchantile Boutique Marketplace in Phoenix
  • Otro Cafe (occasionally)

Visit our online store for nationwide shipping within the United States. If you’re local you can opt for free candle pick-up.

Catch us on weekends at select pop-up markets! We usually share the week’s events on our Instagram.

Anything else you’d like to share?

I’m thrilled to announce a special treat for our candle enthusiasts: We’re introducing the Candle Bar Experience at Retail Therapy AZ in Scottsdale Fashion Square. While walk-ins are welcome, we’ll also offer reservations for private events. This project has us bursting with excitement, and we’re pouring our hearts into it. Stay tuned as we share more details and information closer to the date on our social media.


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