Dark Horse Handcrafted - My 'Why'
My Candle Making Story
I could go back to the beginning, which seems like an incredibly long time ago. But upon looking back, it makes me appreciate even more how far I have come. I was a newly divorced single mom, with no formal business education only a will and a desire for my children to have opportunities.
To me, that meant being a business owner. Influenced heavily I suppose, by my father who was a self-employed carpenter. I needed the ability to have a flexible schedule so I could be there for my family, I just had no idea how I was going to do that. This was when internet was still on dial-up and cell phones were only for the rich.
Fortunately, around that time, I met my husband. We became a family, lock stock and barrel. Together we started a landscaping company and firewood business. It was hard work, but I was able to work around home and be there for my children. This was in Ontario, in an area of cottage country (about 2 hours north of Toronto), which was very seasonal. We did ok, but not great. The land of opportunity was calling from Alberta, it was the oil boom of 2005. My husband is an amazing heavy equipment operator and we decided to make the big move.
It started well, and then the recession of 2008 hit. Now, life has its ups and downs and those are opportunities that I believe you have to learn from. You may not see it at the time, but for me, one thing never changed.
My ‘Why’. I wanted to be there for my family, whether they needed me – or not. I don’t have a quit mentality, it’s learn from it and move on. I have tried different things over the years without much success. But one thing has always remained constant, the support of my husband and my children. Fast forward to today, and now my children have grown into the independent young adults I have always dreamt they would be. I could not be prouder.
I have always been a very hand-on person, it’s hard for me to sit still. I grew up playing a lot of sports (still do) and I like to be busy. In 2019 I started making some home décor – for myself. I loved some of the things I was seeing and thought – I can make that! So that’s what I started doing.
These were mostly woodworking pieces, and it did not take long before friends were asking me to make personalized pieces for them. Which was great! Before long, I was spending all my spare time making projects for other people and it turned into this little home-based side hustle.
But where are the candles you say?
In 2020 of course, Covid-19 happened. Covid took away my part time charter bus driving job. People were not going anywhere or able to do anything. So charter buses were parked.
I had to ask myself, I love what I am doing…but can I turn this into a full-time business?? I gave it some careful thought and consideration. All the previous unsuccessful attempts at small business loomed largely in my mind. And yet, somehow – during one of the worse times of human history, stars were aligning. Staying in the same design realm of home décor, could I add candles to my repertoire? I LOVE candles!
I never looked back! Having been in Alberta now for 17 plus years – this is my home, and my support system. Candles, and the ability to scale have offered me (us) more opportunity than I ever could have imagined. I did not have the time anymore to do the woodworking projects so decided to focus solely on candles and really ‘hone’ the craft.
I finally feel a sense of accomplishment – from a business standpoint. I’m still learning the business end. As a Gen Xer, I still remember life before the internet – but adore the possibilities the internet provides. I love the challenge this business venture brings and the potential future I see within it.
I love connecting with the people who purchase my candles and love them. I appreciate the relationships I have made through networking and the sharing of stories. When you are empty nested it’s easy to wonder what life’s next steps are or could look like…
This little business, built from love, support and life’s lessons, has been rewarding in more ways than can be put into words.
I am forever grateful.