Yankee Candle Founder Michael Kittredge II Dies at 67
Yankee Candle founder Michael Kittredge II has died. He was 67.
Kittredge — whose retail line of scented candles, candle holders and home decor accessories sold for $1.75 billion in 2013 — died Wednesday night at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston after a brief illness surrounded by friends and family, family spokesman Tim O’Brien said in a statement.
“Mike loved nothing more than seeing other people experience happiness, and he delighted in sharing generously with others,” the statement said. “He was a consummate entertainer, and enjoyed hosting parties and gatherings large and small, all done with his distinctive zeal for quality and getting the tiniest details exactly right.”
The story of Yankee Candle began in 1969: At the time, Kittredge didn’t have enough money to buy his mother a Christmas present, so the 16-year-old Massachusetts native decided to melt a few crayons together and gift her his homemade candle instead. One of Kittredge’s neighbors saw the results, and asked him to make her one as well.
With the money he made from that single sale, the budding entrepreneur purchased wax to make more candles and, thus, Yankee Candle was born, the company’s website says.
According to the Boston Globe, Kittredge’s business became the largest hand-crafted candle company in the United States. He sold the company to an investment firm for a reported $400 million in 1998.
Today, there are more than 475 company-owned retail stores and employs more than 6,000 people around the world, according to its website.