Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in candle making but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Nia Burns, Founder of Burns Well Co, located in Cartersville, VA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Burns Well Co. is a veteran and woman-owned business primarily specializing in natural soy blend and gourmand wax replicas for candles. I make wax melts, sprays, diffusers, and even skincare - but creating a candle that looks like it was topped with your favorite food and is 100% wax? That's my aim. My customers are those looking for home décor and home fragrance for a reasonable price, and my candles fit both categories. I have different product lines to fit many wants across a vast market.
Tell us about yourself
My obsession with candles began 16 years ago when my stepmother at the time began making candles for income while dealing with health issues. I became fascinated with the process and how something we so commonly bought at the store could be made and customized at home. I began testing wax creations a few years after getting out of the Navy and flailing around between jobs trying to find something that ignites my passion. After significant research and testing, I created the Burns Well Co. name in October of 2021 after my last name and my main product - candles. I opened my online store in February of 2022 and have had a wild year with this new business, even moving my LLC through different states!
What motivates me each day to continue creating is the feedback I receive from those who purchase my products. I have people who haven't burned a candle in 10+ years who have finally found love for candles again, and some who create display cabinets to store my candles as art displays for their homes. Seeing reactions to my products in-person at events gives me life and ignites my passion for digging deeper into what I can create for the future.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
As a solo entrepreneur dealing with adult ADHD and depression/anxiety mix, I've had my fair share of entrepreneur ventures through varying focuses, including two prior failed businesses, both lasting under a year and creating debt. Neither of the two businesses brought me joy nor a sense of fulfillment - two things I feel are necessary for myself when creating anything. I have such a deep passion for wanting to create not just for myself but for my customers. I spend around 60-70 hours each week focusing on my business, from creating products and testing to social media and my only least favorite thing - photography. My biggest accomplishment is that I have found something that brings me joy, and I can bring joy to others through it as well. It's crazy how accomplishment looks different at varying phases of a business!
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
For me, one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner is definitely time management. Attempting to time-block out my day and keep distractions at a minimum has been helpful, but without a team or a boss, everything falls onto me. I keep a notebook with me all day to jot down anything that pops into my brain, from ideas to reminders for emails, alongside my planner that breaks down every hour, but even with those at my disposal, my brain is constantly jumping from one thought to the next trying to fit as much as possible into one day. You handle social media, market research, product development and testing, photography, editing, website development, maintenance, processing orders, shipping or delivering orders, event coordinating, customer relations, logistics, and financial management, all on top of actually making the product and keeping up with volume needed. Wearing many different hats and trying to excel in all categories, alongside having a family, can make time management an absolute nightmare.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Do extensive market and competition/competitive research. I had many hours looking into market research but completely avoided any competitive research as it felt unnecessary. While I still hold the belief my business and I are not in competition with anyone but me, this research is fundamental not only when starting a business but also as your business grows to keep you aware of trends in the market and what consumers are looking for and to identify possible marketing gaps you may not notice otherwise.
- (For product-based businesses) Price your products to allow overhead costs and labor. When beginning, I priced my products based on just the materials needed to create them. I didn't include any overhead or shipping materials, electricity usage, etc. My local deliveries were free up to 35 miles, and my shipping was free for over $50. I didn't account for any of those in my pricing model. I definitely did not create any room for labor costs. I now have an electricity bill and monthly payment for my workshop as well to add to those overhead costs. I initially felt no one would pay my prices, and I know this resonates with many makers, but my time and your time are valuable. The years of knowledge and testing to perfect products are valuable. Do not price yourself out of business on either side.
- Social Media is overwhelming but don't stop - consistency is key.
Social Media Marketing is an art, and staying on top of it as a solo business owner is exhausting, for sure. Stay consistent in your marketing on social networks. It is such a defeating feeling to put hours of work into a post and receive one like... from your own mother. What I realized over the past few months is that I may have one to five likes on a post, but the reach of the post matters. I've had people who have never interacted with my social media platforms contact me to say something they would like to see me create, place a custom order, or even reach out for words of encouragement. Just because you don't see others admiring your work doesn't mean they haven't seen it. People watch and lurk; it's human nature to be curious. Keep putting in the work, and don't worry about the likes or comments. Your mental health will thank you, too.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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