I clearly recall the very first time I walked into an Illuminations store and was awestruck by the experience. It was like entering a magical world lit totally by candlelight, with the exception of a few overhead track lights that were dimmed.
I was still living in Orlando, Florida at the time, when Illuminations opened a store in the mall which I worked. My dear friend Diana and I were immediately addicted because the two of us are CANDLE CRAZED. We had a weekly ritual where we would dash over to Illuminations on our lunch hour to see what new merchandise they got in, and would inevitably buy something.
I bought my very first indoor Zen water fountain from Illuminations. It was a company that not only offered high-quality candles, but also wall sconces, unique candle holders, small accent tables, and candlelit chandeliers. The fabulousness of Illuminations was not just in the merchandise they sold, but in how they presented it. They believed that candlelight was a way to illuminate your life with beauty. They didn't just sell products, they sold an experience.
Shortly after moving back to Philadelphia in 2001, I ended up getting a part time job working nights at an Illuminations that was located only a few blocks from where I lived. And you have no idea how proud and honored I was to work for them, since I had been such a HUGE fan for so many years. Ironically enough, that part time job turned into a management position, after the previous manager decided to take a job closer to her home in the suburbs.
I managed the store for about a year before the company went out of business and began slowly closing stores all over the States; mine of which was one of the first to go because of the extremely high rent to keep it open. And can I just tell you how sad it was? I wasn't sad because I was losing a job, because I had been offered another position with a cosmetic company. I was sad because Illuminations would eventually be no more. For several years they continued to sell their candles and merchandise from their online website in Petaluma, California, but it just wasn't the same as going to one of their stores and experiencing them. Presently, I think you can only purchase them on eBay and Amazon. But the selection is minimal.
Anyway, I wanted to share some images I found online (many of which are from the book you see above by Wally Arnold, founder of Illuminations), and how candlelight has the ability to create a special ambiance.
So tonight, light some candles; grab a cup of tea or a glass of wine with some cheese; turn on your favorite relaxing music, and experience the magic of illumination.
And here's to you, Wally!
Happy Monday, y'all!