Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in candle-making but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Terry Carpenter, Owner of The Candle Cottage, located in Sevierville, TN, USA.

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

We are a candle manufacturer with over 40 years of experience creating, developing, and manufacturing unique and highly scented candles. We market our assortment of candle products through retailers nationwide, including independent and multiple chain accounts. We also sell through multiple e-commerce distribution channels and manufacture many private labeled brands. Our current mix of products includes wax melts, assorted jar candles, and travel tin candles, and we are also the country's largest manufacturer of Whisky and Moonshine gel candles. Our unique mix of candle products is available in over 90 highly scented fragrances and many different packaging types. We enjoy the opportunities to help develop private brands and labeling ideas.

Tell us about yourself

I've been a part of the gift industry and brokerage business for 30 years. I started within the candle industry about 25 years ago, initially brokering products for The Candle Cottage. About seven years ago, I invested in the company, becoming a minority partner, eventually transitioning into full ownership with my wife Michelle about five years ago. My wife and I enjoy the manufacturing side of the business, including creating new products and ideas like our new DUOS dual cavity wax melts and DUOS dual-piece glassware candles. But for me, I find the most rewarding aspects of the business are when we help develop new products and ideas for private label brands like Little Debbie's, MoonPie, and many distilleries companies. Just today, I submitted product ideas for companies like Bucee's and Bass Pro Shops. It's the part of the business I enjoy the most.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

I am very proud of our added growth over the past five years, having grown our company by 50% and our staff from 10 employees to 20 now. This new growth, combined with securing vendor numbers at some of the country's largest retailers, with e-commerce and brick & mortar included. Bringing some new products and concepts to market, like our DUOS and Moonshine candles, has also been very proud of.

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

Currently, simply managing supply issues has been our biggest concern. With the Covid shutdowns, our industry has seen significant shortages in the component side of our business and price increases. The good news is that it seems recently that these shortages and the lead times created by them have started to correct themselves somewhat. I am hopeful over the next few months, we will see some of the cost increases start to concede somewhat as well.

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

Having sufficient capital to manage and grow your business is the best tip I could provide for someone looking to start a business today. Without the required money, it takes to own and operate a business, the stresses and worries about everyday bills can create roadblocks to growth and running your business effectively. Growing your business will always require extra capital, regardless of how that capital is funded. My second tip would be to surround yourself with qualified and like-minded people in your business. Managing every aspect of a business without quality help is difficult. You have to be able to trust those you've assigned tasks and responsibilities to can and will handle them effectively. So, in summary, I would highly recommend you have the capital you need to manage and grow your business, as well as a great team around you.

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

Today's markets are ever-changing. You have to be able to adapt to those changes and seek out ways to grow your business. Businesses without growth or opportunities to grow will dramatically increase their chances of failure. Nothing in business stays the same forever. Surround yourself with great people. Look for ways to grow your business through new ideas, concepts, and products or services. Suppose you can do this and secure the capital needed for increasing your company. In that case, your business has a much better chance of success.

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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