Chris Kurktock said hello to the girl at the bus stop totally unaware of the future they were about to embark upon.
He was 14 years old and Ashley was 11.
Today, they’ve been together for 16 years and married for nine. They’re also one of Cove’s newer business owners, as proprietors of I am Soy Candles at 116A Cove Terrace, which will have its ribbon-cutting ceremony at noon Tuesday.
“I guess we just got lucky and found someone we could enjoy our lives with,” Chris Kurktock said of his wife. “I guess we grew up and grew together.”
His mother, Lori Anderson, said Ashley Kurktock was like a daughter from day one.
“We’re a pretty tight-knit family and she was one of us,” Anderson said. “Even their brothers and sisters hung out together.”
Before Chris Kurktock left for the military, he said he first married his girlfriend because he couldn’t live without her. So it came as no surprise when Anderson passed on her legacy of candle-making to her son and his wife.
Anderson has always loved candles except for the sooty stains it left on surfaces. She decided to do something about it, resulting in, 10 years later, two candle-making businesses — one her daughter owns in Minnesota and the other here in Cove.
Why did they choose Cove?
“Being a military family we’ve been to several places, but Cove just feels like home so we decided to settle here,” said Chris Kurktock, 30, a staff sergeant with Fort Hood’s military intelligence unit. “It’s like this community has it right and we want to be part of that.”
This new venture takes them out of their comfort zones, too, for the Kurktocks are both very shy people.
“This is forcing us out of our shells and we are evolving as people,” said Ashley Kurktock, 28.
Describing himself as a pretty open book and a guy who really likes candles, Chris Kurktock said he joined the military because he was looking for a challenge and something different to do. He plans to leave the military next year and looks forward to the next chapter in their lives.
“We don’t even have disagreements, we’ve been together so long,” Ashley Kurktock said of their decision to start a candle-making business. “We compromise or meet each other half-way. If it’s something really important he or I will stand down. We’re just easy-going.”
In one year, she will earn a degree in business management and hopes that will propel them and the new business forward.
“It feels really good to pass this tradition down to the kids,” Anderson said. “Giving them something to carry on is like teaching them how to fish for life instead of giving them fish to eat.”
Anderson taught them how to make wickless candles, champagne glass candles and tart candles that comes with its own unique refresher oil, “something most places don’t do,” she said.
All of the products including the soybeans are made in America and it’s a renewable resource.
“I’m very proud of that,” Anderson said.