Business

Boysen builds a house of wax

Young entrepeneur Johan Boysen returned home from business school to open a downtown shop inspired by his Scandinavian roots. Paraffine sells Danish candles and other imported items to help islanders enjoy the good life. - DOUGLAS CRIST/Staff Photo
Young entrepeneur Johan Boysen returned home from business school to open a downtown shop inspired by his Scandinavian roots. Paraffine sells Danish candles and other imported items to help islanders enjoy the good life.
— image credit: DOUGLAS CRIST/Staff Photo

Paraffine on Winslow Way offers an array of candles and related wares.

Candles, chocolates and tea.

What’s the connection?

“Relaxation,” said Johan Boysen, owner of Paraffine on Winslow Way.

“Say it’s Sunday morning,” Boysen said. “You’re reading your paper or drawing a hot bath. Next to you is your cup of tea, maybe a little chocolate, a lighted candle. These are things that help you relax and enjoy a day when we have our rainy weather.”

Boysen opened Paraffine just before Christmas in the retail space formerly occupied by Schmidt’s Home Appliance.

The store offers a vast collection of Danish candles that line the walls from floor to ceiling.

Paraffine stocks nearly as many varieties of candle holders and decorative candle rings, with faux flowers, Belgian chocolates and Scandinavian teas scattered throughout as it does candles.

Just 24 years old, Boysen was raised on the island and recently earned a degree in international business from Arizona State University.

After a short stint as a corporate banker in Minneapolis, he returned to Washington hoping to drop the rat race and start his own business.

“I had my fill of working for corporate entities,” he said. “I decided I’d rather succeed for myself than succeed for someone else.”

Boysen tapped his Nordic roots as an inspiration for his first business enterprise.

“I wanted to find something to sell that I knew about but that didn’t exist in the U.S.,” he said.

The ornamental candle rings adorning the homes of his Swedish-born mother, Ulla Boysen, and other Scandinavian-descended relatives was his answer.

Moving to Suquamish, Boysen started a wholesale business importing candles and candle rings produced by Logum Kloster Lys, a family-owned company in southern Denmark.

“I made a lot of cold calls to big retailers in the area,” he said. “But it was a good product, and I got a decent amount of interest from retailers.”

Logum Kloster Lys asked Boysen to open one of its retail outlets under the Paraffine name. Boysen flew over to Denmark in October, met the owners, and quickly agreed to open up the company’s first U.S. shop.

But don’t call it a franchise, said Boysen. Unlike chain retailers, Paraffine allows Boysen to sell other items not manufactured by the parent company and doesn’t regiment displays or decor.

“It’s more of a partnership with the supplier,” he said. “That’s why I can sell the chocolate and teas. And, if there’s enough demand, it also allows me to make design requests for particular candle shapes, colors or sizes.”

Boysen has also organized his shop in a unique way. Rather than group similar products together, he arranged his products by color. All blue candles, holders, flowers and other items are hung together and apart from another color’s items.

“It makes it easy to decorate your home,” he said. “You can come in and swap items out and change the mood of a room.”

While his mom chips in from time to time, Boysen serves as the shop’s manager, stocker, cashier and janitor. Still in his early 20s, he believes that what he lacks in experience is made up for with youthful gumption.

“I’m making a fresh start,” he said, “but I think I have a bit of energy that I think will help get this business off the ground.”

We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus

Read the latest Green Edition

Browse the print edition page by page, including stories and ads.

Jul 18 edition online now. Browse the archives.