Balancing School & Candle Making
This is an interview with a nursing student and the CandleIt owner, Valerie Montini as she spilled the secret of how to successfully juggle schooling and running a candle-making business.
Village: How did you get into candle-making?
I think my interest for candle making sort of came out of the Covid lockdowns. I got into candle making in February of last year. So it hasn't actually been like too long, but, you know, you kind of learn, you learn the ropes pretty quickly, especially with the basics with candle making. It just kind of started as a hobby. Yeah. Like, you know what, this can, this can grow.
Village: How do you juggle doing both school and the business?
I think it's just kind of about like time management and like organizing my time and multitasking when I need to. Definitely right now has been kind of the hardest point of, like running my business and school at the same time cuz I'm on, well luckily it's only the busiest time of the year for candle making as well.
Village: Where do you market your candles? Like how have you gotten your name out?
I think the first thing that I started with was Instagram. That was like the first online platform that I used. And then I also started using TikTok because that's a big platform for my demographic.
So I know, there's a lot of other small businesses like in my area that use TikTok too, and I kind of learned from them, um, which is a really good tip to learn. Like other small businesses around you, kind of like what works for them and see if that also works for you. And I also got onto Facebook because I know in, in my town Facebook is a big thing.
We have a big group literally with the entire town. So getting on there, exposes you to a lot of locals, which is great.
Village: What have been your major out-of-pocket costs in starting your business?
Probably the initial kind of like investments into my business. So like I had to buy that stove, I had to buy the equipment. Obviously buying the tools that I need for candle making and the wax, like, just that initial kind of cost was obviously drastic, but as you keep making them, you know, you can kind of profit into your, or you can, budget into what you're costing and use that money to continue.
Village: What difficulties did you encounter along the way?
I was like a 16 year old with no marketing or business experience at all. I didn't take any business classes throughout high school, so that was kind of like just getting started cuz I had all these ideas.
Creating the price points, making the candles, taking product photos, editing the photos, uploading them to Instagram, like staying active on Instagram cuz that's really important to build your community, starting up in Etsy, all things like that. It was just really difficult to start just cuz I had no experience, but luckily it, it came pretty easily. It didn't take too long for me to get comfortable with it.
The more I did it definitely the more comfortable I grew with those things. Also things like shipping with Canada Post, that was something that was completely new to me. I've never had to do that before. And then all of a sudden with the online orders, I had to, I had to learn how to do that.
Village: Which piece of advice do you think would be most helpful for someone just starting out in business?
Be creative and like experimental with your candles, use your imagination. Be different and to get new customers involved. Don't get too wrapped up in the testing either.
Village: What are your business's long-term goals?
I wanna keep doing the farmer's markets because I love them. It's a great way to get involved, like with your community and meet new people. I also want to incorporate more fundraisers into my business. In the past I've done like monthly fundraisers where I'll like pick a charity and a proceeds of the sales. Go to that charity at the end of the month. So that's like an easy way to like, give back to the community. Another thing is like collaborations with other small businesses.
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