Six years after moving to Kansas City to build his brand, Crumble Co., Brandon Love is changing directions — both in his business model and in his physical location, he said.
“I miss my family,” Love shared, noting that he is moving home to Baltimore. “I think with COVID, I’ve realized the importance of connection. … I’ve spent so much time playing with the ideas of how I want to build my business and open boutiques — and I’ve often ignored myself and my family.
“I’m taking the leap to go back home to the nest and get to know my family a bit more,” he continued. “They can meet the new me because I moved out to Kansas City when I was just 17; I need to go and experience [my hometown] in my 20s.”
Click here to read more about Brandon Love’s arrival in Kansas City.
Crumble Co. — a retail company specializing in wax melts, perfumes, bubble bath and other aroma-based products — is also now adding candles into the mix.
“I think what’s been holding me back [from launching candles] is because I thought of Crumble Co. as a flameless candle company,” Love said. “But we’re not. I mean, we’ve grown into so much more than that. We’re a queer identity; we’re an artistic space. So I’m not going to let that thought hold me back anymore.”
Click here to check out Crumble Co.’s products.
Burning the candle at both ends
With Love hoping to open a series of boutiques, he’s seen that candles remain a top product in the industry, he noted. Crumble Co. recently teased its candle line through a series called “Wickendale.”
“It did so well,” Love shared, excitedly. “I did not expect them to even halfway sell out, but now they’re almost gone!”
Stepping into the world of candles didn’t come easy, Love added. It took two years of messing up and trying again to get to the point where he is confident in his products. The various scents will play along with Crumble Co.’s whimsical and colorful vibe, he added.
Candle scents include: corgi butts, exploding unicorns, sexy lumberjack, bedtime goddess, gummy bears, mermaid candy and more.
Once Love gets settled into Baltimore, he plans to start scouting storefront locations.
“I am picky with location; I want something that says, ‘old-building-turned-into-new-life,’” he explained. “Here [in Kansas City], that would be the Crossroads. I’ve put the money aside. I’ve got the project planned out. I’m just waiting on the right property because that’s the first really big artistic decision to be made.”
It’s crucial for Love to find a space that can accommodate his vision: an experiential boutique with room to lounge, order coffee and feature an art gallery, he said.
“I want the whole thing to feel like an art exhibit,” Love noted. “It’s an experience, as well as we sell our products. I also want to partner with local artists to promote their work and support them.”
Melt with you
No matter how big the brand expands, it will always stay based in social justice causes, said Love — who has been a local advocate for the LGBTQ+ community and for mental health awareness.
“Capitalism is power right now, so we need to use it to make the world a better place,” Love said. “I always say, ‘Move the needle forward with the power you have.’”
Click here to read about Brandon Love’s push for a Rainbow Walk in KC.
With Kansas City lighting a flame in Love, he is certain he will return to open boutiques in KC, he said. Crumble Co.’s production center will also stay in Bonner Springs, Kansas.
“I love this city. It’s really hard leaving,” Love said. “My mom’s out in Baltimore now, and she needs me there. I’m going to go there for now, but with the business staying in [Bonner Springs], I know I’ll be back quite often.”
Crumble Co. has grown and changed immensely throughout the past six years — largely because Love has changed through his journey, he stated.
“I keep finding new things that I want to get into, which is cool,” he shared. “If Crumble Co. doesn’t stay exciting for me, I will go do something else. … But even through this pandemic, it’s really inspired me to innovate, innovate, innovate — keep pulling out new tricks, keep gaining attention, keep pushing out awesome products. It’s scary. I’m using my fear as motivation, but I think that’s the best thing I can do with it right now.”
Love intends to bring a part of Kansas City back with him to Baltimore, he added.
“I’ve really given Kansas City my all, and I’m excited to show my hometown who I’ve become here in KC — give them a taste of my KC pride.”
This story is possible thanks to support from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, a private, nonpartisan foundation that works together with communities in education and entrepreneurship to create uncommon solutions and empower people to shape their futures and be successful.