In our brand spotlight, we feature Abound brands your customers are sure to love. This week we sat down with Claudine Tambuatco, the founder of Atelier 880. Atelier 880 sells scented soy candles and reed diffusers, is based in Chicago, Illinois, and has been in business for five years. Shop them here.
Abound: Why did you decide to start this business? Why this business and not a different one?
Claudine: Making custom scented candles was a hobby until a friend suggested that I sell them at her studio. She burned a candle that I gave her as a holiday present, and her customers asked her where they could buy one!
Abound: How did you make your first prototype? What changes have you made to your product since then?
Claudine: I made candles as a hobby long before I started selling them. I have made a lot of custom scents and constantly experiment, I intend to continue to introduce new scents, so my scent collection will change over time. I have added packaging options as well. I started with my Light collection and added the Amber and Dark Collections over time, but I am keeping everything visually minimal. I added reed diffusers last year as well.
Abound: How do you make your product? Yourself? A manufacturer? What’s your process like?
Claudine: I designed my products myself. I make them with the help of four part-time employees.
Abound: What’s your day to day like? Do you have any favorite and least favorite parts?
Claudine: My orders come in unpredictable spurts, so my schedule varies day to day. I enjoy making my products. I enjoy experimenting with new scents even more. My least favorite part is the business side: inventory, billing, taxes, paperwork.
Abound: What was your initial investment? How did you get the money?
Claudine: Personal savings. It’s hard to pinpoint a number since this started as a hobby and just grew. I also started very small, I had one retailer who had 2-3 products on consignment for a year before launching my brand online.
Abound: Where was the first place you started selling your product?
Claudine: A beauty salon.
Abound: Where do you sell your product now?
Claudine: I have 15 stockists, about half of them in the greater Chicago area.
Abound: Where would you love to sell your products in the future?
Claudine: I would love to have my products available in more locations nationwide!
Abound: Do you have a favorite product? If so, which one?
Claudine: I have about four half burned candles and two diffusers currently in use in my home, I switch scents all the time! Most of the time I am testing scents or scent combinations. I burn two different candles fairly often.
Abound: What’s your marketing like? Is social media an important part of your business? If so, how?
Claudine: Social media is important, I have found some of my retailers by interacting with them on Instagram. I don’t think I post enough!
Abound: What are some of the most frustrating challenges and/or moments you’ve had with Atelier 880?
Claudine: Supply chain problems. Basically, an out of stock supplier means an out of stock situation for me, I’ve had to temporarily discontinue products when this happens. I keep extra inventory on hand, but judging demand is difficult!
Abound: What are some of your greatest achievements and victories you’ve had with Atelier 880?
Claudine: It makes me happy when stockists reorder. It’s the best positive feedback!
Abound: What advice do you have for people who want to sell a product?
Claudine: Strategic competitive advantage, identify what allows you to outperform your competition.
Abound: Is there any business advice or quotes you’ve heard that you think about often?
Claudine: “Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.” – Winston Churchill
Abound: What’s your favorite thing about being a business owner?
Claudine: I have total control over my work environment!