Hello! I'm Kelley, and I'm a candle maker from the coal region of Pennsylvania. While I've absolutely grown to love the candle industry, I will admit, they weren't the spark to light my fire -- owning a business was.
I'm not the type of person who ever liked having a boss. I've always been a go-getter and a really hard worker, but I've found that in each of my jobs, I felt the urge to climb the employment ladder as high as possible, perfecting their processes, tweaking their methods for better results, and working harder than my position ever required. Even though promotions had happened, I began to realize that while I could more than likely get quite high on each company's ladder, I'd never be at the very top. That was a problem.
Candelles was originally created in February of 2013, but we were using wooden wicks instead of our current cotton wicks, and to put it simply, they were a flop. The wicks wouldn't stay lit, which made the candles useless. After many refunds and so much loss, Candelles reluctantly shut down soon after. At that time, I didn't have any plans on starting back up. I was embarrassed and a little hopeless.
I couldn't help it though. I continued to fall in love with the small business community, through both Instagram and Etsy. I quietly sought inspiration and motivation through many shops that I had witnessed growing wildly online. I took the time to find business role models, like Little Hip Squeaks or Freshly Picked, and tried to figure out how they ran their business and what made them so incredible.
￼With the loss of an incredibly important person in my life happening only a few months later, I was luckily able to have some life changing conversations with them that really made me change my perspective on things. I couldn't just sit by and let the months pass and just hope everything would fall into place. I had to work for it, and sometimes that meant swallowing my pride, and keep pushing through. I realized at this point that starting a business is really just a never-ending obstacle that requires the constant taking of risks and pushing yourself outside your comfort zone and in order to be successful, I needed to learn to love that.
So, I learned to love it. I swallowed my pride and reopened Candelles in November of 2013 and, since Fall is the best season for candles, we started growing so quickly. We were very hopeful and even though we spent many nights up really late making sure all our orders were packed on time, slowly learned how to balance a full-time job and a growing business, and had some (see also: many) road bumps along the way, I wouldn't change a thing.
I'm no super woman though. CJ, our head candle maker (and lucky for me, my hubby), handles almost all of our candle production and quality control. While I focus on curating and blending each of our essential oils to bring a rolling variety of seasonal scents, as well as handle all of our collaborations and designs, CJ is constantly on the hunt to perfect each and every one of our hand-poured candles. This helped tremendously, because as we began to grow rather quickly, I didn't have to worry about hiring on another set of hands to help complete our tasks. Instead, I already had someone extremely dedicated to Candelles' success and more than ready to dive in and help.
Without a doubt, our customers are what made me fall in love with candles. Starting out, my main perk to making candles was to not have to buy my own anymore. But realizing how much our customers fall in love with our scents, and our candles being what they light to relax and unwind after a long day, or to brighten and cozy up their homes, it really makes you appreciate your craft so much more.
If I could give any words of encouragement to those who want to run a business themselves, you just need to go for it, but at the same time, start slow. Research your craft and the basics to running a small business before you dive right in. Don't compare yourself to bigger businesses and focus on keeping yourself afloat and moving forward successfully. Find community and support. I have met some of the most amazing people since opening Candelles, whether they also be other small business owners, retail shop owners who sell our candles, or even bloggers. There are so many wonderful, beautiful people out there who want you to succeed as badly as you do, who can give you priceless advice, and will cheer you on every step of the way. The small business community is a beautiful thing that I am honored to be a part of. Don't be afraid to ask questions. Owning a business requires that you wear many hats, and many hats require so much knowledge. You will constantly be learning, and you have learn right away that you don't already know everything.
PS; Get 15% off anything in the Candelles shop with the coupon code: RADGAL15
Rad Gal, Rad Gig is a new feature on The Clueless Girl's Guide where I invite really neat gals to share their really cool stories. Whether your gig is a full-time job or just a hobby, I want to hear from you! If you think you'd be perfect for Rad Gal, Rad Gig, feel free to get in touch or view the information on the Submissions page! Just submit a short description of what you do and why you think it's rad!