When Kiera Thompson lost her job at a consignment store at the onset of the pandemic, she looked for something to occupy her time. She decided to invest in a candle making kit and try it out as a possible hobby.
“This was literally just a little tiny kit, and I just found it really fun,” Thompson explains. “But from there I just started ordering more candle products, and then it became just more than a hobby.”
As a longtime baker, Thompson also found commonalities between the art and science of making candles and the measurements and precision it takes to make a great loaf of bread or a tasty treat.
Thompson is very intentional about the mixes of essential oils she uses to mix the scents to set the right mood. Currently, her favorite blend is “vanilla rose,” which comes with herbs and flowers decorating the top of the wax on the tin. Thompson also incorporates jasmine, bergamot, pineapple, sandalwood, lavender and chamomile, which she says is a customer favorite.
“I feel like candles bring a little luxury to wherever you put them, whether that’s in your living room or your kitchen,” Thompson explains. “It’s like a mood setter.”
Although Thompson was able to land a job as the economy opened back up, she still found time to make enough candles to stock an online Etsy store. After creating a solid following, Thompson caught the attention of Weavers Way’s vendor diversity coordinator Candy Bermea-Hasan.
As Thompson recounts, she didn’t know what was going to happen beyond the first order. So she was pleasantly surprised when Weavers Way placed a second order and then a third. In addition to the benefit of steady sales and exposure from having her product in a physical store with a large clientele that is committed to buying local, Thompson explains that another perk of working with Weavers Way is how much she’s learning about the process of fulfilling orders, ensuring quality and expanding her marketing.
Thompson welcomes the constructive feedback Bermea-Hasan and the Weavers Way team have provided for her on new things she can try to grow her business or tips on what to avoid as a newbie. One example Thompson mentions is when she wanted to use gold tins for her candles. Weavers Way knew from experience that their clientele preferred black tins, so Thompson made the adjustment. “That’s just something I would have never known,” she admits. “So I’m learning a lot.”
Thompson is still looking to improve her presence on Etsy and Instagram. She’s looking to get into more stores now and would one day like to be in larger chains like Target. But for now, what keeps Thompson going is the therapeutic nature of candle making, which was one of the major things that drew her in during the pandemic. For Thompson, it allows her to exercise her creative side, and it makes money. “If that wasn’t an aspect, I don’t know if I would still be doing this.”