About Me

Trial By Fire Candle Co. opened an office and production space earlier this year at 1412 Light St. in Federal Hill. The first-floor space has been used as on office space in recent years.

Trial by Fire was started by Federal Hill resident Mike Hoffman in April 2020. Hoffman has been the singing piano player at Ropewalk Tavern and its other locations at the beach since 2014. Hoffman said a lot of people around the neighborhood know him as “Piano Mike.” Hoffman was playing piano full time between Ropewalk, weddings, casinos, and events before COVID-19.

Hoffman also attended the The Culinary Institute of America (CIA) and was a corporate chef for 10 years. Hoffman started making candles as a hobby and said being a chef helps create the scent combinations for the candles.

“It’s the closest thing to being a chef without making something edible,” he said.

When the pandemic hit, Hoffman began selling candles to raise money for Baltimore Bartender Relief. He would Venmo the profits to random bartenders around the area. The demand for his candles picked up and he want from pouring 50 to 100 candles at a time to 500 to 1,000 a time. This catapulted Hoffman’s candle-making business into his full-time job, although he does still play piano a couple times a month at Ropewalk.

Trial By Fire does a lot of wholesale with its biggest customers being Brightside Boutique and 2910 on The Square, as well as some businesses in Hoffman’s hometown of Philadelphia. The candles are also offered on Trial by Fire’s website.

Hoffman plans on hosting some pop-ups at its Federal Hill location around the holiday season. He also hopes to open a full-time retail shop in Federal Hill in the future when he can catch up on production and have the adequate staff.

Trial By Fire’s candles are 100 percent soy and carcinogen- and toxin-free. Hoffman said they have a long burn time with the 8-ounce candles lasting 50 to 60 hours and the 16-ounce candles lasting 80 to 100 hours. He said “the whole house will smell good” with his candles.

Hoffman uses the basement at 1412 Light St. for pouring the candles and the first floor for storage, display, and processing orders. In production, Hoffman mixes the fragrance oils to make the scents, adds them to the hot wax, and then pours the solution into the glass candle jars. He then labels the candles and boxes them up for shipping.

Trial by Fire has three employees who help Hoffman with production.


*from an article written by Kevin Lynch in southbmore.com