Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in candle-making but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Maxwell Shore, co-owner of Chester Candle Company, located in Chester, NJ, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

We are a family-run candle company. And, when I say family, I mean everyone is involved! From the ten-year-olds on up! We hand-pour clean-burning soy candles on Main Street in historic Chester, NJ. We have so many different types of customers all over the country - which is pretty awesome! We run a return program on our jars for our customers, which we clean and reuse. And, we teach candle pouring classes in person and virtually that have been super popular.

Tell us about yourself

Family is my motivation! In 2018, my mother-in-law and my wife opened a home decor boutique. They were looking for a line of clean-burning candles to sell in the shop and were frustrated by the options available, so they purchased the supplies to try making their own candles. At the same time, I was working a corporate job that required a ton of travel - it was pretty brutal. Intrigued by the idea of making candles, I started watching candle pouring videos in my spare time. A few months later, my wife and I were staying at her parents’ house during a nor’easter when my mom was in town visiting.

The power was out for a few days, and one evening, my mother-in-law, my mom, and I decided to break out the candle-making supplies and try our hand at pouring candles. We melted snow to use in our double boiler (our wax melter), on the gas stove and wicked candle jars, combined fragrances, and weighed and measured by the flashlight on our phones! Chester Candle was born! A year later, I was able to quit my corporate job and have enjoyed working alongside my family ever since!

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

I would have to say that our biggest accomplishment so far is maintaining growth during the Covid-19 pandemic. We were able to quickly switch our entire operation online to ship candle kits around the country for live, virtual candle classes. It was a crazy time, but we worked super hard and had to get real creative to make it work. We were lucky that our business lent itself to being able to transition online. Not every business owner was that lucky.

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

Well, in our particular case, it’s the family dynamics. Our businesses are owned and run by my mother-in-law, my wife, my brother-in-law, my father-in-law, and me. We certainly do not always see eye-to-eye on things, and having disagreements while maintaining these relationships, can sometimes be challenging.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

Well, first and foremost, you have to be flexible. You cannot be so stuck on one of your ideas that you are unable to pivot if it’s not working. Second, running a business is extraordinarily time-consuming. It becomes a significant part of your life - and since your income depends on it, you have to be willing to work all the time! Finally, focus on customer service. You can have the best product, service, or retail establishment in the world, but if your customer service is poor, you won’t be successful.

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

Building Chester Candle and Comfortably Chic (our home decor boutique) have given us the confidence to open our other businesses - Steam Soapery, Mercantile on Main, and Serendipity Toys and Books. It’s been challenging, but building something, especially with your family, is incredibly rewarding.

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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