Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in candle-making but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Trista Gangestad, Founder of Clever Cow Candle Co, located in Windsor, CO, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Clever Cow Candle Co offers clean burning candles in enamel mugs and tins with clever, inspiring, and sometimes sarcastic designs on them. Our candles are perfect for anyone, but especially those that appreciate and understand the importance of burning candles that don't release soot or chemicals. People who complain of headaches or allergy problems from candles can enjoy our candles without any issues.
Tell us about yourself
Hi! I'm Trista, and I'm the designer and candle maker behind Clever Cow Candle Co. When the pandemic hit in 2020, and I was home all the time, I began burning candles much more frequently than I had previously. One day, I was sitting in my living room enjoying one of my favorite candles and suddenly noticed a big black ring of soot on the ceiling above where this candle was burning! I pointed it out to my husband later, and he got up on the ladder and tried to clean it. It wouldn't budge! I was sad I could no longer enjoy my favorite candle and disgusted at what the candle had done to my home. And I began to wonder what it had also done to my family's lungs, if it could do that to my ceiling!
So, I began researching clean, burning candles. I found some that I liked, but I struggled to find the look and scents I wanted. In my research, I learned how clean burning candles are made and decided I would just create what I wanted. All of my candles are hand poured in small batches with 100% soy wax, cotton wicks, and clean fragrances. They won't emit any soot or chemicals into your home. They are vegan, cruelty-free, phthalate-free, and petroleum-free. You can enjoy burning and smelling these amazing candles without worrying about what they're doing to your home, your family, or the environment. And you get to enjoy a fun mug design too! Did I mention the mugs are reusable? When you're done burning the candle, you can clean out the mug, and then you've got a mug to drink out of!
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My biggest accomplishment as a business owner has been learning how to push myself out of my comfort zone and learn how to do new things. For example, I had to learn how to make my idea into reality. I knew I wanted to put fun designs on the candle mugs, and I had the graphic skills to create the designs, but I didn't know how to get them on the mugs. With the help of my husband and a little trial and error, I learned how to sublimate (heat press) the mugs with my designs, and we were off and running! Since the designs are heat pressed, they are permanent. They're not a sticker or labels. They won't peel, rub or wear off.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
As a solopreneur, it's really hard to wear all the hats. It can be really challenging to learn how to do all the things, balance your time and not work too much. It's also hard to be on your own and not have others to bounce your ideas off of it brainstorm with. I've been fortunate to find several networking groups that have become great support systems for me. They cheer me on, pick me up when I'm struggling, and they also are great referral sources for providers who can help my business succeed.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Find a networking group to support you.
- Find your niche and stick to it. Don't try to make your product or service fit for everyone.
- Learn all the technical business requirements (filings, licenses, etc.) and do those things from the beginning so you're not playing catch-up later.
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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