Brand Feature: Interest Candles

In the spirit of community over competition, I'm excited to continue the Brand Feature Series. Each month, I feature another woman owned equestrian small business that I love. This month we get to meet Rosanna, the creative behind Interest Candles!
Tell us a bit about Interest Candles.
When I got back into riding in 2013, I knew very quickly that I wanted to find a way to use my marketing background and creative juices for some kind of business in the equestrian industry – I just didn’t know what it would be. Then, during the pandemic lockdown in 2020, I suddenly had “extra” time to mull over what I really wanted to do. During that period, I also went a little crazy with organizing and decorating; I actually began designing all kinds of beautiful or funny labels to use on house-hold items….including some candle jars! That’s when the light bulb went off: I would develop horse-themed candles for horse-lovers, and eventually I would create ones for some other interests like camping and boating. 
Why did you start the business?
interest candles, inc. is not the first business I’ve started. Back in 2001, I co-founded an entertainment-marketing agency with a business partner. The firm designed to introduce new cell phone features to the public; it’s hard to believe there was ever a time that we barely texted, but back then there was an actual need to educate consumers about mobile phones. Our agency helped companies like Motorola and Verizon introduce customers to texting, mobile apps and videos by putting together gigantic promotions with entertainers like Taylor Swift and Justin Timberlake. It was a truly incredible adventure. Ultimately, I retired from the company in 2011 because of a breast cancer diagnosis – it was a huge wake-up call to slow way, way down and re-prioritize.  
So, it was breast cancer that brought me back to riding as I realized how much I missed horses and I thought it would be good physical therapy to improve some shoulder issues resulting from my mastectomy. My horse history prior to that was I had started riding at age 5 and owned my first horse by the age of 8 – the second I got back in the saddle at age 47, the inner-horse girl became unleashed again!

Horses made me feel so alive and brought me back “back” in every way, including my entrepreneurial drive. I spent several years doing business consulting and mentoring for other horsewomen who had various equestrian ventures, but as time went on it became clear to me that I wanted to start a business of my own again and that this new business would be one focused on my love of horses.
What is your favorite thing about owning the business?
My favorite thing is having total creative freedom. If I have an idea for a candle fragrance, name and a design look I can just go for it! If customers love it and buy it, that’s wonderful and if it doesn’t resonate with customers – well that’s ok too because I had the chance to be creative, to play, and to learn from the experience.

From my standpoint, when you have your own business there is truly no such thing as “failure” if you view everything as learning. I’ve made some costly mistakes that seriously screwed up my financial model; that’s a pain I really felt and it forced me to shift my creative juices from product development to my business approaches. So many people think business is dry or boring, but in reality everything in business comes down to channeling creativity into solutions, -- and when you figure out how to solve a business problem, it truly can be thrilling.

What has been the biggest challenge of owning the business?
This is such an easy question to answer that it’s kind of scary: inventory management!! When I first launched the company I could get all of my materials in 2 weeks or less. During Covid, that changed to a 6 or even 8 week delay in the supply chain and that is still the case. Even though the pandemic is waning, suppliers haven’t recovered and many believe it will take another full year to get back to pre-Covid cycles. It makes it very difficult for any business to estimate how much to produce, but especially for a brand new company that is growing and doesn’t have much forecasting sales data. It was especially hard to predict that for my seasonal candles during the 2020 holidays – I had no idea if I would sell out before Thanksgiving or have mountains of candles left over; and it’s going to be a similar challenge again this year as I’ve grown since then and I’m still unsure of what to expect!
What is some advice you would give to entrepreneurs?
My uncle had his own business, and when I started my first one back in 2001 he said to me: “when you work for yourself, you work for an as*&&^%”!! What he meant, is that you truly do work 24/7 because you never stop thinking about your business – you are either coming up with ways to improve your products, or run your business more efficiently. And when he said that to me, it was before there was even social media! Now you don’t just think about your core business, you are thinking about Pinterest, Instagram, should I try Tik-Tok? It’s overwhelming.

All entrepreneurs need to REST and to know when to ask for help. You have to take breaks from your business – otherwise you don’t just risk burnout, you risk everything you do taking twice as long as it should because your brain is so tired. And when you need help – whether that’s advice or actual physical help, don’t be shy to ask for it. You’d be amazed at how many friends and family want to support entrepreneurs and be part of a shared dream.

Tell us about some fun things customers can expect to see in 2021.
I’m really excited about a new candle coming out in August – it’s called Horsepower and it smells just like a fresh pot of brewing coffee. I always knew I wanted a coffee-scented candle, but I had a challenge finding a fragrance that smelled fabulous – until now! Horsepower will also come in a new style of container that I haven’t tried before; it’s a black glass with a matte finish, a wooden lid and I’m using a wooden wick that crackles. There’s also a new horse design for the label. I can’t lie, it’s my new personal favorite!

The other fun stuff includes more collaborations! I’ve been so fortunate to meet other amazing equestrian business owners – and several of those friendships are resulting in some really neat “limited edition” products.
When I launched the company in June 2020, I was really “on my own”, but since then I have met some absolutely terrific equestrian small business owners. We have all met virtually and have this great support system where we message each other, answer questions, share information and provide encouragement. Some of the women in I’ve met are also makers of equestrian candles! It might seem curious that businesses that “compete” would become so friendly, but those of us in the group have realized and respected how totally unique our offerings are and that we can all help each other’s business to grow by being supportive. It’s truly been one of the greatest highlights of getting back out there as an entrepreneur.

I really enjoyed learning the story behind Rosanna's business, and I hope you did too! I am lucky enough to have met her through IG this media is truly amazing for building connections with likeminded individuals. We have a very exciting collaboration in the works...we think you will really love it! Rosanna has kindly extended Dapplebay followers 15% off everything in her Etsy shop – the code to use at checkout is DAPPLE 

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