DULUTH — On a quiet morning Feb. 9 in Canal Park,
Naturalight Candles & Crafts
owner Kyia Plummer-Caven greeted a man entering her quaint gift shop from behind the counter of her new coffee bar.
“Our business is very heavily focused on candles, self-care — things that bring you joy. So we just kind of thought it was fitting,” the Proctor resident said as she steamed milk. “Invite people in. Have a cup of coffee. Do some self-care shopping, or grab a book (or a friend) and catch up.”
Since Naturalight moved into the second level of the Dewitt-Seitz Marketplace from its original West Duluth location in May 2022, Plummer-Caven discovered the adjoining former office space had also become available.
departed from the marketplace in February 2023, the tourist hub was without a locally owned coffee shop.
“There’s Caribou, which is fine, but we needed that option down here,” Plummer-Caven said. “So we knocked down a couple of walls, opened it up and added the coffee bar.”
The remodeling project has been in the works since February 2023. With a fresh coat of paint and the addition of casual seating arrangements, the Naturalight Coffee Bar made its quiet debut in late January.
The shop and cafe are open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. A simple menu offers a handful of specialty drinks, and also a small selection of baked goods from
Duluth’s Best Bread.
Beans for the espresso and drip coffee are sourced and roasted on nearby Superior Street.
“Our Minnesota Maple Latte uses locally sourced maple syrup, along with our Miel Latte, which is the honey and cinnamon,” Plummer-Caven said.
A variety of homemade popcorn from
Duluth Candy Co.
can be found on the shelves, along with
Mike and Jen’s Hot Cocoa.
Various items from area artists, such as
North Country Craft cribbage boards,
of Superior and more are on display.
“We work with 12-20 local artists. We also source a lot of our products from women-owned businesses throughout the state. We try and have like a nice mixture of self-care goods, arts and candles,” Plummer-Caven said.
Naturalight candles are made on-site at 394 S. Lake Ave., Suite 207, using 100% soybean wax, cotton wicks and essential oils. Around 30 scents are available in the store. “It kind of depends on the season, the weather and everyone’s mood,” Plummer-Caven said.
What began as a hobby quickly turned into a full-blown business venture, she said. As a college student 12 years ago, Plummer-Caven decided to create the candles as homemade Christmas gifts.
“It was just out of my apartment for fun,” she said. “And then one thing led to another.”
Around the time she earned an associate’s degree and took a job in the veterinary technology field, Plummer-Caven also began traveling to art festivals to sell candles. “Working Monday through Friday, and then doing shows on weekends, I couldn’t balance it anymore. So I decided to put my energy into the candles,” she said.
After a decade, Naturalight Candles & Crafts opened its first location in September 2020 as a result of the pandemic. It was the silver lining to in-person festivals being put on hold, she said.
“We definitely saw an uptick of people ordering candles online just because they were stuck at home and it brought them a little bit of peace and comfort,” she said.
Naturalight Candles will occasionally appear at pop-up events throughout the area, such as the Duluth Winter Village.
For now, the main focus of the business is on operating its Canal Park candle and coffee shop with the help of a team of four staff in preparation for the busy summer season.
“Obviously, we get hit with the tourism, which is great. Then year-round, we’ve got our locals that come in and frequent the shop and keep us going,” Plummer-Caven said as she handed over a dirty chai, its foam crafted into a steaming work of art.