Meet Erin Nelson, of Clean Candle Company! You are going to love reading her responses to “The 5 Questions for the Women of Small Business.” Not only did she graciously give her thoughtful responses about herself and her business, but she has teamed up with The Caffeinated Mom Club for a reader giveaway! Enter to win a set of 3 summer themed candles: “Fun on the Beach” scent, “Sippin’ Sweet Tea” scent, and “Sun Tannin'” scent! (All made with soy wax, no dyes, and no phthalates!) To enter to win, scroll down to sign up for The Caffeinated Mom Club’s newsletter. I know you’re going to enjoy Erin’s interview!
1. Tell us about yourself and your business.
Clean Candle Company was born out of a necessity to work from home with my newborn son, Grayson. My mother started making candles in 2010 and I eventually took over the business and rebranded with my own personal style after a few months into my pregnancy; having realized my current job wouldn’t allow me much flexibility to raise my son.
I have a very high standard of quality for my candles. I believe there is no reason to create a candle that isn’t safe, so we use only soy wax, cotton wicks, with no dyes or phthalates. Our fragrances are safety tested to the highest standard.
We’re best known for having farmhouse and rustic styles, and have two main collections: our seasonal fragrances released each quarter, and classics that are available year-round. I’m in the process now of releasing our brand new yoga line, Om Soy, which I’ve been working on for almost a year now. Each of the 4 scents is designed to enhance your yoga experience, depending on what you need at the time! A lot of thought went into this line and it’s been my favorite candle I’ve created!
2. Describe your work space. What’s your favorite thing about it?
Based in the heart of North Carolina, I work out of the same art studio at my parents’ house that I played in as a small child. My mother was one of the first floor cloth artists back in the ‘80s, and I attribute what little creativity I claim, to her. Although I live a few miles away, it still feels like home to walk into the studio every day. It is two stories, so the bottom floor now acts as a little showroom/gift shop where customers can come pick up candles. We’ve recently cleaned out the top floor so I can work up there, and I love having more space to spread out!
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3. Where do you find your motivation when you feel stuck?
I am a total podcast junkie! I listen any chance I get- in the car, while I work, or I put my headphones in while my son naps and I’m doing housework. Hearing other creatives’ stories relaxes me and inspires me. The same goes for health and fitness podcasts.
Working out has always been a de-stressor for me. Going for a run or practicing yoga always helps to clear my head and give me energy to finish out my day.
I think starting my week off right is super important to avoid feeling stuck during the week. Sunday mornings we go to church and I believe that when you give God His time, he blesses your time for the week to come. On Sundays I also like to plan out my week and get organized- when I’m unorganized, my brain gets foggy and I feel like I’m spinning my wheels.
4. What did you think you’d be “when you grew up,” and how does it differ from the person you are today?
I grew up riding horses- classmates called me “horse-girl” in school. That was actually my college major, and I landed my dream job in Oklahoma as a breeding manager in the reining industry. I worked my butt off for a few years, had a blast, but eventually figured out it wasn’t God’s long-term plan for me.
I came back home to North Carolina, and basically started my life over. In Oklahoma, I got to work with the most amazing and talented show horses, but as a hobby, it’s incredibly expensive. I definitely want to own horses again in the future! After my son turned a year old, I joked that I was confident working in the horse industry was tougher than raising a child. Since I did get to experience my childhood dream, I think it really helped to mold my character and work ethic. You put in very long hours on a ranch, and it can really wear on you, both mentally and physically.
Today, I don’t work physically as hard, and I let myself have more breaks. In our peak season, breeding and foaling out mares, we worked easily 100 hours a week- usually 16-18 hours a day. Now, I make sleep and eating healthy a priority. I do typically work at night after my son goes to sleep, but it’s never hazardous to my health. For so long, even after I returned to North Carolina, I felt such a loyalty to my job that I put my health, family, and friends second. I had no balance! Now, I love to work, but make sure to take more time for myself and family. Sometimes we’ll go to the pool or the zoo during the day during typical ‘work hours,’ and I’ll put in extra time later.
5. What is one piece of advice you’d give to women that want to be their own boss?
Do your own thing. Put your blinders on and don’t try to keep up with trends. As a candle maker, I try not to watch what all the other candle makers are creating because it is just a distraction. I did this when I was first starting out as a way to try to get inspiration, and it left me frustrated and feeling self-conscious.
If you’re debating opening a business in an already saturated market, it can seem a little pointless or intimidating, but if it’s what you really love, I say go for it! There may be a bazillion other candle makers out there, but no one can do them like I do. You have to give it your personality! It takes a while to find your style- it won’t come to you as soon as you decide you’re in business. You need to play around with different ideas. Some scents or ideas that I thought would be wildly popular turned out to be a big flop, and then other scents that I was skeptical of, really surprised me with how well they sold! You just never know, but you have to try.
Once you find your niche, run wild with it! Remember, when you talk to everyone, you talk to no one. I love all things mind, body, and spirit, and that’s the audience my brand attracts. I post a lot of baby pictures too, so I seem to attract other mamas. With that said, really engage with your audience. You can’t attract new customers if you don’t take care of the ones you have!
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