LAKE COMO, NJ — For Michelle Fontanez, it all started with a Crock-Pot in her kitchen. That’s where she made her first batch of hand-poured soy candles scented with fragrant oils.

Little did she know three years later, she would turn that entrepreneurial experiment into business success with the opening of Surf’s Up Candle’s retail store, located at 1703 Main Street in Lake Como.

During a grand opening celebration on July 27, Fontanez and her staff greeted nearly 200 guests who visited during the four-hour event to enjoy light refreshments and get their first glimpse of the shop’s growing line of products.

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Upon entering the creatively designed space, there is no escaping the array of aromas emanating from the eco-friendly candles, bath bombs and other scented products that fill the store. From fruity and floral to the fresh fragrances of the Jersey Shore, their names say it all. There’s Citrus Splash, Apple Pie and Coconut Lime, Hyacinths, Sunflowers and English Garden, Beach Bum, Surf Wax and Deep Sea, just to name a few. And Surf’s Up has not forgotten the holidays —one of the most popular candle-giving seasons — with scents such as Gingerbread, Crackling Firewood and Mistletoe.

Fontanez has also ventured into other products, including motel-style keyrings, stickers and create-your-own license plate signs, and has complemented her retail line with items from other vendors, with such offerings as totes, pillows and wall art.

The store’s opening represents a literal break-out moment for Surf’s Up, which has operated a modest warehouse facility at this location for several years before transforming the front of the building into the retail space. In addition to the small sign that still remains on the side of its exterior, the building’s front façade features a canopied storefront, bold signage and French doors — all in turquoise and white.

Fontanez credits her success in building her brand not only in the community, where she sells her products at local gift stores, flower shops and farm markets, but by attending major trade shows to promote her lines to retailers nationwide and abroad. “Today, we’re in several thousand stores throughout the United States and in other countries, including Austria, Switzerland, Japan and France,” said the Belmar resident.

While it’s been a whirlwind of success for the mother of four, it doesn’t slow her down. Fontanez is currently working to bring Surf’s Up signature scents to another product line – aroma diffusers.

Surf’s Up Candles is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and from noon to 5 p.m., Sunday. For more information, call 848-404-9559, email surfsupcandle@aol.com, visit its website at www.surfsupcandle.com/ or its Facebook page for the latest updates.

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