You can't really go to post secondary education to become a candle maker- or chandler- if you want a title.
I never intended to become a chandler, have a store, an on-line candle supply business or a manufacturing site. I had a hobby that got out of control and a business background that helped shape it all into the craziness it is today. With any hobby, there is a fine line where things stop being fun and start being work. If you have a passion for something and the ideas keep coming, it’s always fun!
I’m going to share with you my personal journey here. Get your tissues if you cry at Disney movies.
My mom saved all my art, from kindergarten on up. She dragged my sister and I to ceramics classes. I watched her embroider, rug hook, tole paint, quilt for hours, knit and crochet. It rubbed off on me. I went through a spell where I did oil painting, and paper tole. She decorated the walls of our century old farm house turned Bed & Breakfast with art I gifted her and sold it to guests! "You can remake it” she said with a smile. She was my biggest supporter and word of mouth sales agent, and I miss her dearly.
My Grade 10 art teacher, Mrs. McCarthy, was also an inspiration. She taught me to try everything – paint, textiles, molding materials, design, a lot of which comes through in candle making.
At eighteen years old, I started selling Tupperware. I listened to their marketing strategy, practiced cold calls, honed my sales pitch and learned lots about customer service. I worked in an accounting office by day, and pedaled my plastic by night. In my late 20’s, I had moved to a new job in accounting in the public sector, and revisited my night gig for the second go around. In an act of repayment to my neighbor, I attended a candle party she was hosting one evening. I was blown away! She sold a ridiculous amount of candles in two hours. I went home thinking how brilliant that was. Plastic has a lifetime guarantee, those candle customers were going to be ready to buy again in three months. Aha moment #1.
The next day I was on the phone ready to sign up with this candle company. I had to commit to 5 parties a week; I needed to have a van or truck. I needed to sign a waiver. No I didn’t. I didn’t need to follow anyone else’s rules. Aha moment #2.
I had a lot to figure out – it’s 1995, the internet is gearing up, I can network on-line, find the stuff, find the instructions, I know people, I know sales, I have a business background, it's time to buckle down and get to work. Do due diligence, practice, research, test burn, source, study, study more, MSN my new friends, group chat, practice some more. Things were moving right along.
Then life threw me a curve ball. My second son was born with some pretty big medical challenges. My life switched gears from “work then parent” to “parent then work”. No Aha moment here, and a definite change of course.
My first shop was in my basement, so I get the whole "life balance", "household takeover" world. I made candles with my sister-in-law while our darling three year old's made a 32 cups bowl of cereal in my Tupperware bowl, irrigated the upstairs with baby powder, and mixed together every puzzle in the toy room. Never leave wax unattended, children on the other hand…..
The pool table made a great sorting area for our first big fundraiser of 2,000 votives. The spare bedroom joined the roster for rooms consumed for the growing piles of totes; the perimeter of the garage housed the not-so-temperature sensitive items like wax and glass. Daytime was for wee ones, nap time was for candle making, evenings were for home parties, and weekends were for craft shows. Life squeezed into all the spaces in between.
I needed more and more supplies, and my network of on-line friends trusted me to be in charge of the unofficial Canadian co-op of candle making supplies. My living room became the shipping and receiving department. The poor ladies at the post office wondered what I was up to. I got more email, more "How do we join?", more "When is the next group chat?", more What is your website? Website? I didn’t have a website. Off to night school, learn HTML coding, build a website. DONE. What? You want an on-line shopping cart? Aha moment #3, start hiring staff.
And here I am, 20+ years later. Kids are healthy and grown, and it’s time to pay it forward. I get immense satisfaction mentoring others, sharing my journey, my do’s and don’t’s, my shoulda, woulda, coulda list of things. If I can help one other person balance their life and work and make money doing it, then I have found new purpose.
Making a business out of your passion can be a blessing. Candle making offers a sense of satisfaction, it can be done cost effectively with minimal start-up costs. And candles make great gifts!
The following information is not from any type of business book, it’s my advice and my experience. I am so glad to have you along for this journey. I realize that there are many places to learn, so I appreciate your trust in me.