Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in candle-making but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Derek Matthews, founder of HOAM Candle Company, located in Atlanta, GA, USA.

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

HOAM Candle Co. is an aroma company specializing in curating unique and inviting scent experiences by combining luxurious natural waxes with complex international fragrance oil blends. We use the best quality ingredients to produce our clean burn candles and home goods.

Tell us about yourself

Hi! I’m Derek DeAndre, the founder of HOAM Candle Co., and I want to begin this story with the truth. I started this company because I wanted to make money. Flat out. Sometimes, as small businesses, makers, and creators, we struggle to admit that we actually want to be able to eat and pay our mortgages from the things we produce, but no more.

I have been on the entrepreneurship track now since 2011, and I’ve learned a thing or two about how to run a business and how not to run a business. I’ve been through many ups and downs throughout my time as a small business owner, so in starting HOAM, I wanted to make sure that I did it the right way. Believe it or not, I’ve never started a business because I wanted to make money. I always started from passion. This isn’t a bad thing, but passion alone does not make a business. When I thought of what venture I wanted to take on next, I knew that it had to be something that combined both passion and profitability. I felt that if I was going to start over and create something new, it had to be something useful and universal.

Now, I want us to use our imaginations for a moment, and this may be a stretch, but I want you to think about the feeling of being stressed. On top of that, add crippling anxiety about what the future holds for not only you but for your family, friends, society, and the world…Now think about doing all of this in isolation. Does this sound familiar to anyone? If it doesn’t, then life on Mars must’ve been great in the year 2020 because here on Earth, we all know exactly what the onset of the global pandemic felt like last year.

Like many people, I was stuck at home and eventually laid off with nothing but questions about what the future looked like for me. My only escape became suiting up and going to the grocery to grab the essentials and my not-so-guilty pleasure, candles. During the pandemic, the home fragrance became the ultimate comfort for me. Between candles, diffusers, oils, incense, plugins, and sprays, my one-bedroom apartment smelled like a perfumery, and I was in heaven. One day, I shared my bi-weekly candle haul on social media and ended it by saying, “I should start my own candle company.” And thus, the seed was planted.

I dove into a few YouTube tutorials about how you make a candle and, as I do with most things, said, “I think I can do that.” Before I knew it, I bought supplies and signed up for a business accelerator course. As I said, I started this business because I wanted to make money. And that is still the 100% truth. But something very surprising happened as I went further down the rabbit hole of this candle and home fragrance world. I discovered the control that scent has over your psyche. How it can literally bring back memories, reduce stress and relieve anxiety. I began to understand that what I was creating was bigger than just wax and oil. It could evoke change in people’s world. So my mission has become to build a brand that is totally focused on products that bring people to their place of peace, align them with their center, and create a place that feels like home, no matter where they are.

I know that some will say, why do we need another candle brand? My answer is that you don’t. But, HOAM is not just another candle brand. I’m not just selling candles. Yes, that’s the physical product. But what I’m selling are mood enhancers and joy bringers.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

My biggest accomplishments thus far have been getting featured by Oprah Daily, getting my own studio space, and going into full-time entrepreneurship with this business.

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

The hardest thing for me is the lack of daily accountability from an outside source. You have to be your own everything: motivator, teacher, founder, etc.

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

  1. Do your research on the industry you're passionate about starting a business in and find that one thing that makes your idea stand out. Even if it's not a new invention, it just has to have one twist that makes it stand out.
  2. Be ready to work harder than you ever have.
  3. Record everything. You will be thankful you did, probably sooner than 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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