Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in candle-making but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Alicia Reisinger, founder of Wax Buffalo, located in Lincoln, NE, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
We are Wax Buffalo Pure Soy Candle Co, and we create beautifully imperfect handmade products for the modern home. Our products are all hand-poured in small batches right in the heart of Lincoln, Nebraska. All of the magic is created by our small but incredible team at our flagship location in the Haymarket.
Tell us about yourself
My oldest daughter, Navy, was born with a cleft lip and palate. When Navy was born, I was traveling the world as a TV producer and on-air host for a television show called "Footnote." Navy turned my world upside down in a really beautiful way. Her birth forced me to pause and be still with her as Jon, and I worked through the Navy's treatment, surgery, and ultimately her healing. In the process, I slowly found my love of making candles again.
Something I had loved doing as a child with my Grandma Ferne, the art of candle making, is rooted in my memories of time spent with my grandma. It was a great way to center and re-align with my own spiritual journey and make something safe and beautiful for my family. So, with a whiskey in hand, I would pour candles at night after I put my four kiddos to bed. Slowly I began to make candles for friends, and a close friend encouraged me to try selling them.
Finally, I agreed and put a few in a local shop. They sold out pretty much immediately. I made $100 from that very first sale. I invested that right back into my business…ultimately creating what Wax Buffalo is today. I continued to make candles in my kitchen until I opened our flagship store just over two years ago, and now all of our candles are hand-poured in small batches right here. Wax Buffalo has grown from what was once a side hustle to a million dollar+ business (only 2% of women-owned companies hit that milestone!) with 14 employees and sold on the shelves of wholesale partners across the world, including Whole Foods.
I am also incredibly passionate about igniting change in the arena of working women, specifically working mothers. Creating a movement where women feel supported to challenge the status quo of when and how to work. And I was doing this long before the pandemic challenged working norms. I want to give women and mommas a way to work differently in a way that builds them up as the beautiful, talented humans they are. Proving that we can work in a way that suits us as individuals rather than robotically pumping out work within an allotted timeframe set by production-based standards in early century America.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Challenging the perceptions that were thrust upon us from the manufacturing world of early America. By creating an environment where we work differently in a way that celebrates us as unique humans with individual working styles and needs. And proving this model can and does work - in retail, business, and life.
Also, being a part of the 2% of women-owned businesses that hit the $1million mark. That feels pretty amazing!
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
Doing what I actually love. The art. The actual creation. The bigger Waxy B gets, the more meetings and just day-to-day tasks that need to be done rather than the very thing that gave me life when starting it.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Do it. Seriously. Don't think too hard about it; just try.
- Don't spend a lot of money to get started. There is beauty and grace in slow growth. Go slow and do it well.
- Surround yourself with humans smarter and more talented than you.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solopreneur that you'd like to share, then email firstname.lastname@example.org; we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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