Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in candle-making but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Lynn Van Hoose, Owner of Tranquil Iris, located in Toledo, OH, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I make mostly mold candles along with hand soaps, bath fizzes, and other self-care products. My customers are spunky. They love the wide variety of candles I have because they make great presents for bachelorette, divorce, and birthday parties, along with gag gifts. I have an expansive Halloween collection that sells fast because it adds to their home decorations. I have several other candles for a wide variety of holidays, which are great gift options for my customers. I love building relationships with my customers. Most of my candles actually come from their requests.
Tell us about yourself
I started learning about candle making and soap making during COVID. My full-time job has always been at home, so nothing has changed for me. Going out to eat was always my socialization, so when it was removed, I found The Wooden Wick Co, watched all their tutorials and joined all their groups, and learned. I like being creative, but I always struggle with how to start the process. Using candle molds did that for me. I had a design made for me, which gave me the freedom to explore colors and fragrances. Once I started making them and realized how happy I was in that element, I started buying molds with every paycheck. My full-time job is interacting with customers, and as an introvert, that's exhausting. Making candles gives me the space to be in my element, with some good music and creating. Branching out and learning how to make soap, lotions, beard oils, and more continues to challenge me. I've had plenty of failures, but when I finally nail a recipe as my bath fizzes no longer crumbling, I feel so successful and proud.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
I've only been a business since January 2022, so everything has been huge for me. But I think I have two big accomplishments, one personal and the other for my business. My personal accomplishment is making triple the sales goal I set for this year. Considering I started Tranquil Iris with no loans or grants, it's huge to see my money going into something that is only me and breaking goals I set when full of self-doubt.
The business accomplishment was getting some of my candles on a store shelf. The opportunity to get my candles out in front of more people, to hold them, see my brand name, and smell them, that's gigantic. My candles are known for their fragrance, and selling online makes that difficult for me to showcase.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
I have zero ideas what I was walking into when I decided to sell some candles! I thought I would make some candles and build a website on a POS platform and be set. But I was very wrong. It's more time-consuming than I imagined. It has required me to be proficient in so many new areas like SEO, email marketing, ad platforms, business banking, how to hire an accountant, and a social media manager (thankfully, my kid wanted to grow that part of her resume, and she takes a very small fee), and so many more things. I had this romanticized idea of being a business owner as someone making pretty candles and selling them to happy people. I have realized the part of it no one really talks about.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Be passionate about what you are doing. It's a lot of work, time, blood, sweat, tears, education, and trial and error, outside of the product you are making or the thing you are selling.
- Be vulnerable. Ask for feedback. Some of it will suck and be a bit ego-crushing, but the truth is, asking people you trust is so helpful because they really want to see you succeed. Be open to feedback. Embrace your failures; they are learning opportunities that can teach more than anything else. Laugh at those failures. You wouldn't be there if you weren't going for your dream of owning your own business. Celebrate your wins. I made a toast to myself when out with girlfriends, who then celebrated with me. Don't be afraid or ashamed to be the first to celebrate for yourself. And if it's just you, celebrate anyways.
- Always remember, slow and steady wins the race. Good things really do happen if you don't throw in the towel when things don't go blazing fast when you start like you hope they will.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
Please go get your dream. I'm 46, an empty nester who has horrible anxiety that makes it hard to leave the house. I've found so much about myself on this journey, and even though it's scary, I wouldn't change it for the world. It's worth everything because no matter what, I did this. And nothing can take that from me. I like to do aerial yoga and think to myself how it took me a long time to get here, but I haven't been happier.
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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