NORFOLK, Va. - "I'm cuckoo for 'Chocolate' Puffs," says Koby Lomax's Tiktok video showing a bowl of cereal that looks and smells good enough to eat.
But he wouldn't recommend taking a bite.
The Cocoa Puffs-inspired bowl of cereal isn't cereal at all, but the latest cereal candle in a line that's made Ardent Candle one of the hottest brands in the business.
"Much bigger than it was when it first started out," said Lomax of the company he founded in 2015 as a 15-year-old.
He was a student at Landstown High School in Virginia Beach then. A wannabe entrepreneur with $200 in investment money from his parents.
The company was called Wax Magic and the focus was on traditional candles that worked as advertised.
Today, the goal is the same, but with a different name attached.
"I came across the word 'ardent' and I was like this is kind of nice so I looked it up," Lomax recalls. "The definition of ardent is passionate or enthusiastic and then in archaic literary it means burning or glowing so it literally was perfect."
Six years later, Ardent Candle is shining brighter than Lomax could have expected, following the development of its cereal line during the COVID-19 pandemic.
A Froot Loops-inspired bowl was the first, followed by Trix, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Lucky Charms and Cookie Crisp. Once burned down, the bowl and spoon inside can be washed and reused for real food.
Social media made the idea a viral sensation in January.
"I was on Instagram. I had sent candles to a bunch of influencers and did influencer marketing and that was what got the initial start going. But then yeah once I got on TikTok things really took off," said Lomax in what might be the understatement of the century.
Ardent Candle is projecting sales to blow past the $1 million mark in 2021 after bringing in about $38,000 in 2020.
Demand prompted a move to a new, 5,000 square foot warehouse space in Norfolk's Railroad District earlier this month. There, Lomax and his team work to fill orders of the sold out handmade cereal candles that have a way of taking people back to their childhood.
From here, who knows? Lomax says he's taking time off as a theater major at Old Dominion University to focus on his business, which still makes all its money through its website.
"Just keep taking it up next level, next level, next level," he said.
Click HERE to visit Ardent Candle's website.