Local candle and ceramics company sells eco-friendly home goods and drinkware that benefits pollinators

It was 3 a.m. when Lauren Strain woke up with a new business idea.

The single mother was a freelance photographer, but she was in search of another creative outlet she could do from home. Little did she know the idea she was praying for would come in the middle of the night.

“When I thought of this, it was like I could see the entire brand,” Strain says. “I created the logo, made my website—I did it all. I just ran with it. And ever since then, doors have just been opening.”

Strain launched Pollumination—a combination of the words pollination and illuminate—in September 2019. It began as an eco-friendly candle business selling candles in flower pots that could be repurposed to plant flowers. After she made her first candle, she saw potential for something much larger.

Today, the business sells flower pot candles, mugs, tumblers, jewelry trays, vases and Baton Rouge-themed plates and platters. Strain sells her products online and at local makers markets. A portion of the proceeds are donated to San Francisco nonprofit Pollinator Partnership, an organization dedicated to the protection and promotion of pollinators and their ecosystems. Through her business, Strain wants to shed light on the importance of pollinators in our everyday lives.

“People don’t realize the effect that pollination has on the environment,” Strain says. “One out of every three bites of food is there because of pollinators. They’re in decline right now because of pesticides, loss of habitat and climate change. So if we don’t have bees, butterflies and all these different species that pollinate, we don’t have fresh fruits and vegetables.”

Each of Strain’s designs are modern, colorful and intentionally crafted. She hand-glazes, decorates and packages all her products from her backyard shed. As a reminder of the business’ cause, every product has a silk screen-printed pollinator, such as a bee or butterfly, stamped on the front.

Strain has thought of everything. The tea mugs have a 22-karat gold rim to give the look of dripping honey, and are carved with two notches to hold tea bag strings steady. The flower pot candles include a large ceramic pot and a coconut wax candle made with a natural cotton wick. After it burns out, the customer can reuse the pot to grow flowers. Strain tags every item with seed paper so customers can plant wildflowers.

This is just the beginning for Pollumination. Strain plans to launch a bridal line that will include custom ceramic wedding favors, bridal party boxes and cake cutters. This year, she will expand her at-home workspace to create a small shop where locals can purchase her products in-person.

“I’ve just kind of thought of myself as a butterfly through this, as cliche as that might sound,” Strain says. “I was in this cocoon phase for a long time. But now, I’m finally spreading my wings and building a life and brand that I can really be proud of.” pollumination.com

This article was originally published in the February 2020 issue of 225 Magazine.