Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in candle-making but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Jon Rossi, founder of Glow To Grow, located in Brooklyn, NY, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
My name is Jon Rossi, and my partner, Patricia Tirona, and I are co-founders of Glow To Grow, an eco-friendly candle company. We are based in Brooklyn, NY, and are motivated by a mission of leaving the planet better than we found it. We hand-pour each vegan soy candle into an upcycled vessel with old-world arts and craftsmanship - creating unique pieces from the scent to the vessel. Each candle comes with a plantable dust cover produced from wildflower seed paper to transform your candle vessel or any of your choice into a mini wildflower garden. Our desire is to add coziness to your home while combining it with our passion for nature and the environment.
We have found that our customers are people who appreciate our aesthetic, eclectic variety of vessels, unique take on scents, creative and customizable options, and those who are passionate about the environment. Just recently, we participated in a night market at the Brooklyn Museum and were thrilled by the enthusiastic response from the art-minded crowd.
Tell us about yourself
It’s not who inspires us but what; a mood -- striving to bring good moods and energy in these hectic times is inspiring. Bringing people peace, positivity, and beauty with candles that smell beautiful in bespoke vessels to create lovely moods inspire us. We started the business because we were sad with the last flicker of the candle flame leaving us with an empty generic vessel -- uninspiring to repurpose.
The first time you light a new candle is a fresh beginning. Fragrant aromas permeate your home and fire up all the senses. If you’re like us, you watch the candle slowly burn down, and watch, with some sadness, the wax meltdown to the bottom. What if you could repurpose the vessel for a permanent place in your home -- antique beer steins, a mug filled with hot cocoa, cream, and sugar set, or colorful kitchen jars? A striking object with utility.
We are young, so we will have a lot of proud moments, but for now, it’s when people light up (pun intended) when we show them the results of planting the seed paper in a unique vessel. We have a few samples of wildflowers that we bring to markets, and people smile. That and the countless compliments on the beauty and function of the vessels make us proud. Our hustle as entrepreneurs is focused on these proud moments of educating people as to giving life to vessels. We sell ideas, not just products.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
In the short time (~8 months), we have been selling via markets and online, and we are most proud to have garnered such a loyal following. Each week we recognize more and more people that return to our booth either because they want to buy another candle or just to see what new vessels and/or scents we have for sale. We hear time and again about people who are serial candle burners that have changed their brand loyalty because they love the repurposed vessels, the uniqueness of our scents, and the option to extend the life of the vessel even further with the plantable dust cover we provide with each candle.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
Developing a product within a niche while ensuring the production process and final product are sustainable and vegan. Not only are we a small business, but this is the first time either of us has started a business, so there is a huge learning curve, but we are super excited about the challenge.
At our first couple of markets, we noticed that were multiple vendors selling candles, so we had to figure out how best to position ourselves, how to make our booth stand out, and how to make a product that resonates with our consumers. We have made great progress in this area, but there is always so much more that can be done.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- If you have an idea that you are passionate about, then go for it. Be driven by your enthusiasm as it is hard work but can be equally as rewarding.
- Try not to get discouraged. There will be many times when you question yourself, and in those moments, it is best to STOP (S: Stop. T: Take a breath. O: Observe. P: Proceed). Running a small business is extremely hard, especially when the challenges of daily life creep in, but if this is something you are passionate about, then you will find a way to work through whatever gets in your way.
- Take risks and get out of your comfort zone. We have found this is the best way to grow your business, and it is also the most rewarding, even though it can be terrifying at times.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
Networking is a huge part of running a small business. While participating or attending shows, we try to meet as many vendors as possible to gain valuable knowledge, share experiences, and learn about other shows, as you never know where it could lead.
In addition, we try to engage as many local businesses as possible to see if they would carry our brand but, more importantly, to see how we can collaborate with them to achieve their needs. We try to be super flexible so we can work with a wide range of retailers and not pigeonhole ourselves.
Currently, we work with some partners to produce unique vessels and/or custom blends to be sold exclusively in their stores. Another popular collaboration has us upcycling their existing vessels with scents they chose specifically for their clientele.
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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