Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in candle making but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Michelle Fahey, Founder of Coffee & Fumes, located in Pearland, TX, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Coffee & Fumes creates unique, custom scent blended and marbled candles and one-of-a-kind resin accessories geared towards the nerdy communities, such as Dungeons & Dragons, tabletop roleplaying games, fans of Supernatural, Star Wars, and more. We're also looking to expand our collections into more traditional and novelty-inspired scents for the less nerdy.
Tell us about yourself
I made my first candle in arts and crafts as a kid. I fell in love with it, but we couldn't afford to make it a hobby. Fast forward quite a few years, just before COVID hit, I bought a kit online to play around with. After rediscovering that love for making candles, I started branching out to better quality ingredients to try custom blending my scents that no one else would find anywhere but with me. Shortly after COVID, in April 2020, we lost a family member to cancer. It struck the family hard. I saw the heartbreak across the family and realized I wanted to make a memorial candle for everyone - one that would embody the spirit of who we lost. I got to work blending some of their favorite scents, like pine and other natural scents, until I found the perfect one. While testing the blend, I noticed that it also had a lingering chocolate scent that I never included in the blend, but they had always loved chocolate. It was magical, and the family loved it, feeling their loved one nearby. Then, I realized I could help people through the power of scent to bring about memories and emotions they might have forgotten or wanted to remember.
I make more fandom-based candles than I do memorial ones, but I've had many exclaims how some of the scents have brought them back to moments of their childhood or to other memories they hold dear. The concept remains the same but in a more playful way, like fandoms should be.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
I think the biggest accomplishment for any business owner is having the courage to chase that dream. It's scary, and you often feel like maybe you're not going to be successful, but you push yourself to try anyways. Then you get that first sale, followed by that first review, and then the repeat customer, and you realize you can do it. Believing in myself - in my ability to make it this far - is hands down my biggest accomplishment.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
The hardest thing about being an owner of any kind is getting yourself out there. It can be confusing at first and overwhelming, and then that doubt might creep in, and you question your ability to do this or keep going. Those feelings are perfectly normal, but you shouldn't listen to them because you absolutely can do it.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Figure out what you want to do first. Do your research and see what's out there already. It took me two years of R&D before I finally decided to open a store. Don't rush it.
- Never stop experimenting and learning. There's always room for improvement and growth. You never know what you'll pick up next if you continue searching and practicing.
- Take breaks. It's okay to do. Sometimes we think we have to hit the ground running and never stop, but you'll risk burnout otherwise. Burnout will lead to self-doubt and depression, and you'll be more likely to toss in the towel.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
In anything you do, be sure to find time to take care of yourself. Balance life and work with self-care. It's often the thing we overlook or take for granted as small business owners - or even in life in general.
Don't listen to the negatives because you can do anything if you put your mind and heart into it. Yes, it will be hard work and scary at times, but everything worth having always is. You've got this dream - go chase it. Inspire others to do the same.
Also, remember that you won't be able to please everyone no matter how hard you try. It will be okay in the end. I'm already proud of you for making it this far. Don't give up now.
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.
Turn your craft into recurring revenue with Subkit. Start your subscription offering in minutes and supercharge it with growth levers. Get early access here.