Title and firm: Owner, Northern Lights Candle Co.
Services: The store, open all year, offers a full line of candles, candle accessories, Christmas ornaments and collectibles, including Lladro pieces and crystals. Northern Lights Candle Co. also sells hand-made candles created by the owner.
Biographical information: Born in Arlington, Va., Rita Dienst spent most of her adult life in the central valley of California. In Fresno, Calif., she climbed the corporate ladder from receptionist to vice president at R.J. Hill Building and Development, a firm that builds subdivisions. When she and her husband accompanied their daughter to a wedding in Juneau in 1992, the whole family fell in love with the capital city. ``We went back to California, sold everything, quit our jobs and moved in the same summer,'' Dienst said.
At first, Dienst, who was tired of the construction industry, worked as a sales person for Business Interiors Northwest in Juneau. Then, she decided she was going to teach herself how to make dip-and-carve candles. ``I didn't have a clue how to do it. I got a book and started making candles. The first 500 turned out really horrible,'' said Dienst, who sold business furniture during the day and made candles after work. In 1995, she opened Northern Lights Candle Co. in the Town Center Mall located above Taco Bell downtown. The 500-square-foot store displayed Dienst's inventory, 200 hand-made candles. Over time, she added candle accessories and a full line of brand name candles to the store's inventory. Last April, she moved into a new location, three times the size of her original store, in the Senate Building.
Family: Dienst is married to Thomas Dienst, director of human resources at the University of Alaska Southeast. The couple's 25 year-old daughter, Monica, is married to Leonard Robertson.
Notable: Since 1995, Dienst has sold 8,000 of her original candles. Recently, the store went online with a secure Web site, which enables customers to purchase merchandise over the Internet.
Quotable: ``I love living here. The quality of life is just great and I really enjoy having a shop that is unique and different than the rest of the stores downtown.''
Employees: Dienst, her daughter Monica and one other employee.
Contact information: 586-6286, 175 S. Franklin Street. Web site: www.northernlightsgifts.com.
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