November 30, 2020

Candles That Light You Up: Meet Ava Ghiotti, Founder of Merchants of Beauty

By Emily Merrell

My house always has candles, but it’s my “Smells Like Success” candle that I keep on my desk to remind me to keep going. That’s my favorite candle from Merchants of Beauty, followed closely by “4AM New York City”. Ava Ghiotti, the founder of MOB, has taken her makeup artistry and events expertise and turned it into storytelling through candles. Learn more about these amazing candles and get lit! 

Founder and creative designer Ava Ghiotti. Courtesy of Ava Ghiotti.
Founder and creative designer Ava Ghiotti. Courtesy of Ava Ghiotti.

SDS: Merchants of Beauty makes the most stunning candles! How did you get into the candle industry? 

AVA GHIOTTI: Thank you for the candle compliment! Combining my love for storytelling, design and meaningful objects, I set out to elevate the candle experience. As a Los Angeles based makeup artist and event coordinator, I was always drawn to storytelling, project visualization and creating experiential experiences. Relocating back to New York City in late 2012, I began the development of Merchants of Beauty. 

I created Merchants of Beauty from the notion that meaningful objects can capture the essence of moments and memories, sparking conversation that can lead to your next great adventure. I design the collections for Merchants of Beauty that are born from my love of objects, inspired by my travels and most of all a determination to capture the essence of the world around me. It is my hope that you find a bit of your essence in the collections I have put together.

SDS: What does Merchants of Beauty mean to you and what are your greatest aspirations for the brand? 

AG: When I take a step back and look at Merchants of Beauty, I see a brand that is passionate about inspiration. We all lead such different lives, but no matter how different our backgrounds and beliefs, inspiration is a common thread that we can all relate to. My goal as the Founder and Creative Designer behind Merchants of Beauty is to make experiences tangible through creative products. I enjoy the challenge of capturing the essence of a mood through scent, color and design. I design pieces that inspire mood and inspire you to curate your environment. Also, I love using candles as a vehicle to create meaningful experiences and transport through scent, setting your story in motion. I aspire to build a library of essences that you can reach for on any given day to support and inspire your mood.

Your new cande obsession. Courtesy of Diana Davis Creative Photography.
Your new cande obsession. Courtesy of Diana Davis Creative Photography.

SDS: The names of the Merchants of Beauty candles are AMAZING— I personally love “Smells like Success” and “4AM NYC” . How do you come up with your scents and the names? 

AG: Each collection that I design for Merchants of Beauty is focused on a theme and tells a story. This debut collection is inspired by the essence of New York City. It was designed with the intention of capturing the energy and optimism that drives chasing your dreams here in the Big Apple. Similarly, I have always been drawn to plays on words and I wanted names to make people smile and also offer a space to contemplate their meanings. After the names, designs, and color palettes are created, I work on the fragrance development. The fragrance is the final step and the notes need to embody the feeling and essence that has been curated into the candle design. 

SDS: What’s the process of making the individual candles?

AG: Each candle is hand-poured in artisanal French glass, hand-painted and hand screened with a rich color palette. With a keen attention to detail, I have selected our sourcing partners and ingredients: fine fragrance oils, free of sulfates, parabens, and phthalates and a creamy natural wax blend of soy and coconut. All Merchants of Beauty candles and packaging are manufactured here in the US.

SDS: How can people learn more about you as a founder and the candles? 

AG: You can follow along on IG @merchantsofbeauty and also on  We have some great partnerships and exciting news to share about upcoming collections and would love to keep in touch. You can sign up for our newsletter that features our IG Live schedule, focused on bringing inspiring content and guests to you!

Ava Ghiotti, founder of Merchants of Beauty. Courtesy of Ava Ghiotti.
Ava Ghiotti, founder of Merchants of Beauty. Courtesy of Ava Ghiotti.

SDS: What can we expect to see from you in the next year or so? 

AG: At the end of November I am launching our limited collection candles, Caution HAUTE, exploring the theme of stepping into your authenticity and our Rocket 3,2,1 design, focusing on the theme of mindfulness and the power of imagination to transport. It’s the perfect New Year gift as we look toward 2021 with optimism and anticipation.

My next 5-piece collection will debut in August 2021, with a departure from New York City. This collection takes us into the Catskill region of upstate New York. It’s inspired by a real-life Victorian mansion that I have had the pleasure of staying at.The house’s name is Greystone. Here’s a snippet of the collection story:

“The roads began to narrow, the landscape broadened as she drove effortlessly through the curves of the valley. The air became welcoming, the anticipation building as the winding roads drew closer to ‘The House.’ It wasn’t just a house, she could tell it was more than rooms and walls – it had a soul. For all the anticipation she had, nothing would measure up to what was about to be revealed to her.”

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