In our brand spotlight, we feature Abound brands who are ready for retail. This week we sat down with Brian & Megan Dalrymple, owners of Anchored NW Candle Co. Anchored NW Candle Co. sells wood wick, soy wax candles, is based in Spokane, Washington, and has been in business for one year.
Robin: Why did you decide to start this business?
Brian & Megan: We began our business sort of by accident. Megan’s niece gave her a homemade candle a few years ago for Christmas. Megan asked Brian for a candle making kit the following year and did not receive one.
Again, this last Christmas, Megan asked for a candle making kit, so we went to Hobby Lobby and created our own, spending about $50 on wax, fragrance, containers and other supplies. We made a small batch of nearly 50 candles, in little metal tins, in our kitchen.
Proudly, Megan took them to work to see if anyone liked and wanted to purchase. She sold them all in one day. Assuming it was a fluke and everyone was just “being nice,” we made 50 more, again selling all the first day she took them to work.
We then knew we were onto something. It was then in late January of 2019 that we jumped head first into the candle making business.
R: How did you make your first prototype? What changes have you made to your product since then?
B & M: We knew we wanted to make as eco-friendly a candle as possible, while also being aesthetically pleasing and affordable. That is why we sought out to create a wood wick, 100% soy wax candle, free from dyes, phthalates, and stearic acid.
Using a fragrance/essential oil blend, we did just that and have never wavered from it. Nearly all changes that have been made have been cosmetic. Containers, labeling, and of course mass production have been the largest changes we have made thus far.
R: How do you make your product? What’s your process like?
B & M: We make all of our candles ourselves, purchasing all the product and creating between the two of us. Everything from wicking and labeling the containers, to pouring the wax. We make a great team!
R: What’s your day to day like? Do you have any favorite and least favorite parts?
B & M: I (Brian) handle most of the ordering of materials, social media and our website, while Megan is the chief candle maker. We share in many duties such as order processing, shipping, and everything else. Currently, we are looking to add someone to assist us in local events and promotions.
R: What was your initial investment? How did you get the money?
B & M: Our initial investment was $50 spent at a local Hobby Lobby on a candle making kit. We dipped into our pockets some in the very beginning to create our very first batches of candles.
However, we have built our business solely on our profits, hustling to sell our product whenever and wherever we could, to earn money to expand inventory and production.
R: Where was the first place you started selling your product?
B & M: We began selling our product in a well-known, local consignment store located in two area malls. The exposure and foot traffic helped us gain some traction in the early days to begin when nobody even knew about us. We then turned to local craft fairs and farmers’ markets to further our growth and get the word out about our amazing candles!
R: Where do you sell your product now?
B & M: We sell online and continue to do farmers’ markets, pop-up shops, traveling vintage shows and in a variety of retail locations; currently 47 in 7 states.
R: Where would you love to sell your products in the future?
B & M: We would love to be able to find our way into larger big box stores such as Macy’s, Target, etc. and have retail partners spread throughout the country. We believe in our product so much that we want to see it in the hands of as many people as possible.
R: What’s your marketing like? Is social media an important part of your business? If so, how?
B & M: Our marketing is predominantly social media, with Instagram being our biggest tool. A lot of our growth has been due in large part to our “army” of brand reps who love to spread their love for our candles.
We began by seeking out large home decor accounts who specialize in beautiful farm and home decor vignettes and we have had steady growth because of this exposure. Photography has been key! Investing in a photographer changed everything.
R: What are some of the most frustrating challenges and/or moments you’ve had with your business?
B & M: Creating a great soy wax candle, we learned, was not the easiest of tasks. Soy wax can be very temperamental, so many mistakes, testing and trial and error, has had to happen to get us to where we’re at today.
Also, starting a business that experiences such growth, out of a townhouse apartment while both working full time jobs tests you in ways you can’t imagine.
R: What are some of your greatest achievements and victories you’ve had with Anchored NW Candle Co.?
B & M: For us, being able to expand into seven states and just under 50 retail locations in 10 short months. All after creating a small batch of candles on a dining room table one evening in January of this year. As of mid December, we are both full time candle makers and our business is now our livelihood. Working for ourselves is the most challenging, yet rewarding experience we have ever encountered.
R: What advice do you have for people who want to sell a product?
B & M: Be a perfectionist! The time spent on all of the details that go into making and marketing your product can be time consuming, but it does payoff in the end and lays the groundwork to stand out in a sea of makers.
R: Is there any business advice or quotes you’ve heard that you think about often?
B & M: Understand your consumer and what their expectations of your product is. Then deliver your product in a concise, easy to digest way, so that they can continue to enjoy your product time and time again.
R: What’s your favorite thing about being a business owner?
B & M: Seeing the fruits of your labor pay off. We never tire of seeing reactions and hearing how people are enjoying our candles. Knowing that you are creating something of value, for someone to enjoy, is one of the most rewarding feelings out there.