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Exploring Life & Business with Ryan & Debra Bruin of Cranky Veteran Candle Company

Today we’d like to introduce you to Ryan & Debra Bruin. Them and their team share their story with us below:

The spark that ignited this business really began back in 2014 when Ryan medically retired from the US Army. The transition from soldier to civilian is a difficult journey for many, and this was true for Ryan and our family. Since retiring in 2014, he really struggled with finding a profession that “fit” and that struggle brought us here.

Navigating PTSD and Anxiety was challenging for our family in many ways, but especially financially. His symptoms interfered with his mental health which commonly leads to issues for Veterans trying to maintain a job. We knew that he needed a hands-on, creative outlet to help manage his symptoms and we needed a way to better provide for our family. So we stopped asking for a seat and built our own table instead!

We built this business to 1) support our family, and 2) support Ryan’s mental health.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way? Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
Being an entrepreneur is full of challenges. We don’t get to clock out at the end of the day, we frequently work 80+ hours a week, and managing mental health is, of course, something that we try our best to prioritize. We started our company with less than $200 and we’ve remained a debt-free company thankfully, but there are certainly challenges to being a small business and not having loans or investors.

I’m sure that making candles seems like it’s simple, but there’s an extensive amount of work put into each batch. We don’t take shortcuts and we’re a two-person team raising four tiny humans. We deal with challenges on a daily basis, whether that is a global glass shortage, mail carrier delays, supply shortages of some other sort, or something in our personal life.

We adapt and overcome, always.

As you know, we’re big fans of Cranky Veteran Candle Company. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about the brand?
We specialize in soy candles, but we also create wax melts and room sprays. We’re probably most known for our military-inspired fragrance names and our sense of humor, but we also create really high-quality products and people quickly realize that after receiving their order.

Cranky Veteran Candle Company is the ONLY veteran-owned candle shop that focuses on creating non-toxic home fragrance products that are safe for your entire family. Our military service members are regularly exposed to a variety of dangerous and toxic chemicals that pollute the air they breathe – burn pits, for example. We know that the fumes and toxins coming from burn pits is resulting in significant lung damage – our founder, Ryan, is one of those service members. Giving a damn is fundamental to how we do business and we will never sell you something that we wouldn’t use in our own home.

As for what makes our brand different from others – I think we’re just relatable. We frequently discuss our own mental health struggles, how that impacts families like ours, and how we manage those things. We’ve been through the military life and we know the toll that takes – we want to build up our community and give them tools and resources that we didn’t were available to us. We send care packages to veterans struggling with their mental health and we donate money to a variety of causes whether that is purchasing groceries for someone, helping to pay a bill, or sponsoring a therapeutic outdoor adventure for a group of veterans in need.

We know the struggle and we want others that are struggling to know that we’ve got their back, every time.

How do you define success?
Success looks different for everyone, and our idea of success is being able to raise our babies, pay our bills, make a difference, and support our community.

We aren’t trying to be millionaires here and we know that we can pay it forward, so that’s what we strive for.


  • 10-ounce candle – $18
  • 4 oz candle – $8
  • 4oz room spray – $9.50
  • Wax melts – $7

Contact Info:

Image Credits

Kalyn Noland Photography

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