Light the Fire: Retablo Candles Contain A Hidden Message in Their Core

Retablo Apothecary founder Harper Duddy explains how her candles became a metaphor for light and hope in darkness…

How did Retablo Apothecary come to life?

The candle-making began many years ago when I started the tradition of sending candles out to my family every year for Christmas, naming each seasonal batch after one of our farm animals at our ranch. Two years ago my husband began touring with his country band and was gone for long periods of time — so pouring candles became my meditation at the end of the day after I put my baby to sleep. One day I just woke up and decided I should give the Retablo brand a shot!

What is the story behind the name?

The heart behind this brand is my love for Mexican-American culture. My mother and I feel a deep connection with Mexican folklore and art. I decided to launch the collection with the black and gold color scheme (specifically a gold milagro charm inside a black glass container) as a metaphor for light and hope in darkness. Moving forward and picking yourself up… “light the fire.”

Tell me about the embedded milagro charms that you feature in every candle… What is a milagro?

The Milagro (seen as a healing folk-charm or lucky charm in Latin culture) embedded into all of our candles is very emotional to me, and has been a symbol in many of the triumphs my family and friends have overcome. We see it as a little meditation, a lot of tradition, and way to cultivate change.

What is the process that goes into each new scent/collection?

We decide the meaning behind the candle first. Our premier “Talisman” collection was created to provide a little extra support for the people in our lives. The very first was the noche, which contained a key milagro for creativity – to help inspire my husbands songwriting. Then the scent is chosen, each of which represents our life here in Texas with notes of cedar, lavender, tobacco, dirt and Texas rose.


The Tierra collection was inspired by your furry friends at the Retablo ranch. How does a farm animal come to inspire a candle collection?

The individual personality and spiritual meaning behind the donkey and pig milagros helped inspire the Tierra Collection. Our mini donkey, Teddy, is brave and willing to work and work till he gets what he wants (an apple). But in folklore the donkey is seen as a very strong an positive symbol representing perseverance. Rosie, our pink piggy literally shows no fear… and her milagro also represents courage and bravery.

What are some of your favorite scents?

I love them all but my favorite is the Verano, for sentimental reasons… it reminds me of our first summer spent in Texas and the specific moment we hand picked a tomato from our first garden. My second favorite is the Noche, created after I experienced my first Texas thunderstorm – there is no storm like a Texas storm!

Day or night?


Spirit animal?


+ Shop Retablo Apothecary’s hand-poured candles here!

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Love how the inspiration for the brand came from a particular culture. Always good to embrace diversity.

Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

4 years ago

Great post!

4 years ago

Love the way you mean everything :) And how the brand name inspiration too, Lovely post.

4 years ago

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4 years ago

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3 years ago

Nice post.