Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in personal care but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Lisa Graham, Owner of YYC Beeswax, located in Calgary, AB, Canada.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
At YYC Beeswax, we exist to (re)connect people with their creativity and the beauty of nature. We offer a range of ready-made small-batch beeswax products and educational opportunities. YYC Beeswax offers a variety of products with one rule – every product must contain something harvested from a beehive or themed accordingly.
From candles to our extremely popular lip balm and food wraps to DIY supplies, you can tell we have fun creating. In addition to offering products, we also run workshops in which we make candles and teach our participants a bit about bees (sometimes, we even have special joint venture workshops with other small businesses, too!).
Our customers are eco-conscious, bee-conscious, and natural product-conscious. They also appreciate handcrafted and high-quality products.
Tell us about yourself
I grew up in rural southern Alberta, where I worked on the family farm as well as at a local apiary. Working at the apiary helped me get over my fear of bees (kind of). Yes, I was afraid of bees when I started working with them. I came to Calgary for university.
During my studies, I volunteered to make rolled beeswax candles. I loved it so much that I found a beeswax sheet supplier so I could make more. The result was way too many candles to burn in a reasonable amount of time. When I started selling the candles on Kijiji, I found many people had a hard time finding beeswax sheets. Something so simple shouldn’t be so hard to find and access! Thus, I started carrying beeswax sheets.
Fast forward a couple of years. I decided to try my hand at running a business. I knew I could put my software engineering to use to help people find what they needed online! From there, things expanded. I started offering supplies, including solid beeswax, wicks, and more. I started to teach workshops. I also had fun experimenting and growing the product line.
I love sharing my knowledge of bees and beeswax with others. It’s important to respect the process from the hive to the finished product. It’s not a huge leap to bring art and science together, and I love highlighting the interdependence.
There are two things that make my day. First, I love the excitement of a customer who has finally found what they’ve been looking for. Second, it’s priceless to teach someone to make a candle and see how proud they are of their creation. It’s especially satisfying when they tell me how non-artistic they are to start.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
To date, my biggest accomplishment has been keeping the business going for over seven years now! Our products and founder have been featured in a number of articles, podcasts, and interviews. We have also sold products across the globe.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
For me, one of the hardest things is to stay focused. I come up with so many ideas all the time, and I want to execute them all at once! Not only does that lead to burnout (been there, done that, do not recommend!), but it also becomes very overwhelming to have so many projects on the go at once.
The second hardest thing (sometimes hardest, depending on the day) is loneliness. It's very helpful to be able to reach out to other people who understand your position to share successes and struggles.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
My top 3 tips are:
- Get started. Don't overthink it too much. If it works, great! If it fails, you'll still learn something!
- Small actions lead to big results. Whether you are jumping all in or starting something on the side, take small actions every day to move forward.
- Be creative. The daily grind can get a little stale, and I can often get out of a rut by doing something creative. A few things I like to do are create art, play music, learn a new activity, do a DIY project, and so much more!
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
We're very excited to be going through a rebrand to better reflect who we are - watch for our updated brand coming soon!
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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