Portland-based Pacifica began as a vegan candle brand and spawned a natural beauty empire. Today, that light burns brighter than ever as the company’s founders -- husband and wife team Billy Taylor and Brook Harvey-Taylor -- were named National Small Business Persons of the Year.

The company accepted the honor at a luncheon today in Washington, D.C. during National Small Business Week, trumping candidates from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and Guam. Since its inception in 1963, the Small Business Administration annually recognizes the achievements of entrepreneurs across the nation.

Born of Brook’s passion for blending kitchen spices and essential oils, Pacifica was established in 1997 from family loans. It had netted a cool $12 million by 2008 and expanded into perfumes and fragrances. When the company experienced a downturn after trying a new distribution channel, it sought capital with a line of credit and a loan from the SBA. In his acceptance speech today, Billy said that the money "revitalized our company. We expanded and re-did everything."

Today, the company boasts a staff of 110 and last year enjoyed a 33 percent increase in sales over 2012. In an interview after the awards program, Billy added that since typically consumers are a company's judge and jury, to be recognized by the business community was both overwhelming and an honor.

Two other winners were also announced, including a first runner-up, Anita’s Mexican Food Corp., a family-owned California tortilla chip manufacturer, and Merrill, Inc., a general contracting company which specializes in site excavation, underground utilities and road and building construction.