KINGSPORT — You could say Ivy Vaughn is a daydream believer.

Vaughn owns and operates Sleepy Jean’s Candle Co., which is located at 425 E. Sullivan St. The shop offers natural-based candles, wax melts and more. But for Vaughn, the store also serves as a place of much-needed peace and happiness.

“With all the chaos that has been going on, I needed something that was peaceful and calming,” Vaughn said, referring, in part, to the recent pandemic. “Something that wasn’t DoorDashing, making food for people or stressing about how I was going to do this or that. I wanted something I knew would be calming. It’s therapeutic to do candles.”

She has overcome a lot more than just the pandemic, however.

“I was agoraphobic,” Vaughn said. “I didn’t leave the street we lived on for four years. My husband didn’t leave that street for six years. We’ve overcome a whole, whole lot. I started making candles then for income.”

Agoraphobia is an anxiety disorder that involves a fear of places and situations that could cause tension or panic. For Vaughn, it took having her first daughter to overcome her anxiety.

“She made it to where we had to start living,” Vaughn recalled. “No matter how bad our anxiety, our panic was, we had to keep pushing forward. I had two kids in three years. That kind of propels you. You stop focusing on all of your problems.”

Now, the 40-year-old business owner is making candles and running her own store.

“It’s been a dream of mine for a really long time,” Vaughn said, looking around at her shop. “Every day that I come here, it doesn’t seem real.”

Sleepy Jean’s offers more than 30 candle and 24 wax melt scents. Rows of candles with scents like Smoulder, a smoky, masculine fragrance, to Pink Flamingo, a sweet summer smell, line the shelves.

On Thursday, Vaughn was letting a Concord grape-scented set of candles cure in the back. The specific scent was requested by a customer. Meanwhile, she plans to whip up a specific fragrance for her friend Amber’s mom. The candle will be called Vanessa in her honor.

“I cater to people,” Vaughn said. “If someone really wants something, I’ll make it for them. I don’t want to just be a Bath & Bodyworks. I want to be more customer-based.”

In addition to concocting her own recipe of fragrances, Vaughn said she also aims to keep the candles as natural as possible.

Her candles are soy-based and include non-toxic wicks. There are no preservatives used in her candles or wax melts and Vaughn also plans to implement essential oils into her candles soon.

Vaughn also offers long, wooden bread bowls that are multi-wick citronella candles for around $45. Customers can also come back to Sleepy Jeans for a future refill for $15, which she plans to do for other items in the future as well.

“If there is a vessel that’s really important to you,” Vaughn said, “you can bring it down here and I’ll fill it for you.”

The shop isn’t just about candles and scents, though.

Vaughn said the shop also serves as homage to her mother, Barbara Jean, who passed away in 2020. Her mother was also a fan of the 1968 song “Daydream Believer” by The Monkees.

“This is a way to honor my mom,” Vaughn said. “I miss her a lot. I really do. My daughter, her middle name is Jean as well. And my mom loved that ‘Daydream Believer’ song.”

In the second verse of the song, the band sings, ‘You once thought of me / As a white knight on his steed / Now, you know how happy I can be.” It seems Vaughn has seen just that. Moving forward, she said she hopes to be a testament to others who feel trapped by their situation.

“Maybe hearing this will help somebody that was like me and feels stuck,” she said. “They call you homebound when you’re (agoraphobic). You feel helpless. You feel like there is nobody that can help you. It’s not too late.

“I’m happy to be here. I am happy I am this far in life. I’m a little bit of a late bloomer. But it’s never too late.”

Sleepy Jean’s Candle Co. is open Wednesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. On Tuesdays, from 6 to 8 p.m., the store offers ticketed candle-making classes.

Vaughn will also host a ribbon cutting ceremony on Tuesday, Aug. 3, at 4:30 p.m. at the store.

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