Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in candle-making but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Matthew Mewbourne, Founder of Rekindle Candle Co., located in Monroe, GA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Hey hey! We're a candle business geared towards making the planet a better place. We started with handmade pottery and upcycled tin cans. We would offer refills for both containers and provide a discount for recycling the container by choosing to have it refilled therefore promoting waste reduction and further extending the life of a container. The tins were also upcycled by a local homeless organization, and we partnered with them to help feed those in need.
We've changed a lot since then while also retaining some of our core values relating to sustainability. We've moved away from handmade ceramics and the tins for various logistical reasons and now specialize in glassware. And we've transitioned from a refill program (difficult logistically). We now have an exchange program where you can bring back your cleaned-out jar for a discount on a new one. We can then reuse the old jar or recycle it depending on its condition.
Our products aren't expensive like some, but they're also not cheap. Our customers are the type of people willing to spend a little more money on average towards something they know has a positive impact. Along with our exchange program, we also help plant trees with each product sold, and we source all of our raw materials with sustainability in mind. So, from start to finish, we enact sustainable measures to try to have the most positive impact on this little green and blue sphere we live on :)
Tell us about yourself
I did ceramics for 3-4 years in high school. A couple of years into college, I got the itch to get back into the art form. During the interim, I became very interested in the environment and doing what I could to positively impact it and promote sustainability. As my desire to get back into ceramics was building, it intersected with wanting to have a positive impact on the environment. At the same time, I had begun to burn a lot of candles. I've always loved fired, but also it enhanced my studying environment while getting ready for exams.
This all came to a head one night while I was studying. What if I take this candle and put it in a ceramic cup that I handmade and also offer to refill it at a discount to friends and family members? That same child-like ambition to create products that have a positive impact while also being a quality product instead motivates me every day.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
It took about 4-5 years, but we're debt-free and have never had to take a loan! We cash flowed everything, and I wouldn't trade it for any other way. I know it's a slower trajectory for business success, but it gave me a greater sense of peace knowing I didn't have bank payments and interests for said payments looming over my head. It made me feel lighter and freer, which therefore helped me create and love what I did without stress.
I did Rekindle on the side while finishing more degrees in Sports Medicine at UGA, and once it had gained enough traction and I had graduated, we decided to pursue it fully. Some people are under the impression you need a business plan or a bank loan to start a business, but I bump that notion. I didn't study business or economics in school. I just knew I had something good that others would appreciate and want. And I hustled hard on the side till it became something that wasn't this huge risk.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
Being objective. Sometimes you have to make hard decisions that your personality or biases can influence. But while you make those hard decisions, you also have to balance grace with it all. Otherwise, you just seem like some impersonal jerk.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Don't take on debt. You'll feel lighter and freer to create and love what you do longer.
- Ask people who are level-headed that you trust for feedback on your products and services.
- Sometimes what you love becomes laborious, and you need to find a creative outlet. Whether that's in the business, such as setting aside time to create freely without the pressure to work and meet some expectations, or outside of work, you need to give back to yourself for all you give away.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
I love candles and smells, but I also just love creating. I'm super excited about other business endeavors and trying to make more things that other people like.
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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