Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in candle-making but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Kristi Mardian, Owner of Wicked Street Candle Co., located in Scottsdale, AZ, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Wicked Street Candle Co. is a small, independently owned candle company. We started small in 2016 with farmer's markets and Facebook. Since then, we have grown with our website and social media. We target all different types of consumers, but mostly people who enjoy unique and handmade products. I use nothing but organic ingredients and handcraft every product. I know there are others out there who worry about the ingredients in the products in their homes. I use organic ingredients, herbs, and essential oils to handcraft all my products. My customers know they are purchasing cleaner products they can feel safe with. Plus, I am a candle and essential oil addict, so I know what candle lovers like me want in a product. Clean burning, no headaches, and a candle that doesn't cost $30 to purchase.
Tell us about yourself
I was a teacher for 10 years. In 2015, I stayed home for a bit to have my two youngest children. I returned to work in 2018 and had to drop Wicked Street. However, in 2020, I decided to stay home permanently and grow my business into what I've always wanted: an organic alternative to big box retailers. I wanted to be "your local Bath & Body."
I started Wicked Street because I loved Bath & Body and other big box candles, but on a one-income family with four kids, I couldn't bring myself to spend $25-$30 on a candle that most likely would give me a headache. This motivated me to make a great, quality candle that would be affordable and clean. I believe that candles should be enjoyed, not expensive. I ask myself how much I would pay for my product, and that's where I start. Yes, I don't profit as much as I should, but delivering my product to people like me is worth it. I recently began the path of becoming an herbalist so that I can make organic, quality products that help others heal, chill, and enjoy their time. I'm looking forward to the expansion of Wicked.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
When I opened my website in July 2020, I didn't know what to expect. I know the eCommerce world is vast, and my small business might get lost. However, with a lot of hustle and little sleep, I put Wicked out to the world. I also drove the miles to other shops in Arizona that were interested in selling my products. The combination has allowed Wicked to grow from a small farmers' market tent to a growing online business. I celebrated when I sent out my 100th invoice, and I was shocked when I realized we had surpassed 300. I think 300 online orders in two years is a great start! Wicked Street has a big future, and I am looking forward to new products hitting the site.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
I work alone. I manage the website and social media. I order and manage my supplies and inventory. I brew the products, package the products, ship the products, etc. Wicked Street is me. When I get an order, that customer has my full attention. This is exhausting when raising four children. Time management is difficult because my family comes first, and Wicked comes second. However, as my kids get older, they understand that "mommy is working."
I am such a small business, but I have big goals. This means a lot of worry and stress. I devote hours to my website, social media, and analyzing my audience. Sometimes, this pays off; other times, it's crickets. For example, I received 20 orders in 2 weeks in December. Then on the other end, I received 3 orders for the entire month of February. Consumers are not always predictable.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Plan, Plan Plan. I kind of hit the ground running. I have a B.S. in Business and a Masters in Education. I "had this." No, not really. I wasn't fully prepared for all the inventory tracking, tracking my revenue and expenses. Oh, the expenses. Licenses, supplies, postage...the list goes on. There is always something that you need to pay.
- Budget accordingly. I had to sit down and be realistic with how much I was actually putting out every month. It opened my eyes o realize I needed to make monthly goals; otherwise, I would never break even. But, once I budgeted and managed the funds better, we broke even within 10 months of opening the website.
- You can't do everything. I am a doer, and I am very task oriented. There are days when I just work, work, work. Sometimes, I just have to shut the laptop off and play with my kids. Otherwise, I get lost in work. There is always something that needs attention, and when you operate alone, there's no one there to help. I have to force myself to "put it on the shelf." The world won't end if my social media post doesn't go out.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
If you want to start a business, do it. I spent years dreaming of owning my own shop. I'm turning 40 this year and finally making my business a reality. It's never too late. I had no capital, but I had motivation. There were times when I thought, " this is stupid, I can't do this," and then I would get 6 orders. It's a wild, wicked beast, but hey, so am I!
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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