Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Charlene Fan, founder of Handcrafted Toronto, located in Scarborough, ON, Canada.

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

HANDCRAFTED TORONTO inspires living well and self-care with clean, toxin-free candles made with 100% soy wax and unique scents to whisk you away to your happy place. We created indulgent bath & body products to nourish and pamper your soul. We want to spread that good feeling in our communities, so a portion of all sales are donated to One Tree Planted and True North Aid charities. Our customers love how our products make them feel, inside and out!

Tell us about yourself

My name is Charlene, and I am the creator of HANDCRAFTED TORONTO. I am a Registered Nurse in Toronto, and I started my company at the start of the pandemic when my mental health was suffering from the stress of what was happening. I was using scented candles to help me meditate, but the candles I had (from a popular brand) started to give me headaches because the scents were too strong.

I did some research and found that candles made with paraffin wax are unsustainable for the environment because they are made with petroleum by-products. I decided to start making my own candles from renewable, clean-burning vegetable wax and unique fragrances. Since I still work as a nurse, I am constantly plagued with dry skin from frequent handwashing, and regular drugstore creams and soaps were not helping. I was driven to develop my own range of bath & body products like bath bombs, body lotion, and shower gel because I believe clean beauty should be an everyday luxury.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

I have learned so much about owning a business and really pushed myself to make and develop products that are a pleasure to use and sustainable for the environment. Aside from researching and taking courses, there has been a lot of trial and error and sleepless nights to bring forth products that I'm really proud of!

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

Sometimes things don't work out the way you planned, or even if you love something, your customers may not. It can take longer than expected to bring your products to the standard that you want, so persistence and determination are key!

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

  1. Go for it! It's so easy to let your fear of rejection talk you out of something. If what you're doing makes you happy and excited, do it.
  2. Start small. Don't spend tons of money on large amounts of raw material for your product. Especially when it comes to experimenting with recipes, until you've honed your process, don't invest in large quantities that could become a waste if you decide you want to change your ingredients.
  3. Take your time. Don't rush to make a product to bring to market. Make sure you've tested it and had other people test it so that you're not trying to fix issues later.

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

If this pandemic has taught me anything, it's that life is hard and sometimes short. Give yourself permission to relax and recharge!

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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