Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in personal care but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Jillian Walkowiak, Owner of The Smell of Fear Candle Co., located in Buffalo, NY, USA.

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

I make sustainable, natural wax candles & melts inspired by horror fiction. I like to say that it's "for those that like to burn brightly on the dark side"! Anyone that has an interest in horror and/or high-quality, deliciously scented candles would love my product.

Tell us about yourself

I'm both a small business owner and an adjunct instructor at a local college. I have had a keen interest in the horror genre since I was a little girl. I went to a horror con a few years back and saw a non-horror candlemaker there and thought how awesome it would be to come up with a horror candle.

I drew some of my first creepy creation inspirations from Edgar Allan Poe and Stephen King. It was off and running from there! This creative outlet that allows me to use my love of horror and the connections I make with other fans of the genre are some of the things that keep me motivated each day. I love what I do!

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

I think my biggest accomplishment as a business owner (and as an introvert) is all of the amazing connections I have made & collaborations I have done. From other horror fiends to podcasters, to museums, authors, and even a horror streaming service! I'd never have experienced these things any other way & am thrilled with all of it.

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

I think that self-doubt can be tough to grapple with as a small business owner. Social media is a huge part of marketing these days, and along with that comes a lot of exposure to a lot of competition, especially in the candle industry, and it's easy to start to question your value. I try very hard to see that there is more than enough space for all of us and that we each have a special niche that we cater to.

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

You don't have to go into huge amounts of debt to get started. If you're willing to put the work in, there are so many available resources to help you get going without loads of capital. Start small and find your niche.

Finally, take some steps out of your comfort zone and just do it! There's no guarantee to anything in life, and nothing worse than looking back and saying you should've done something but just never did.

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

Part of my ultimate candle goal is to spread the horror love! It is an amazing genre that more people should take a second look at. It's often a direct reflection of the fears and interests of the time period in which it was created.

Even more appealing is that the endorphin rush that a good scare causes is followed by a hit of dopamine & serotonin, which can be beneficial to our mental health.

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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