I first met Caylen, the owner of Canvas Candle Company, at a photoshoot for a blog we were being featured in (read those here!).
I was instantly inspired by her positivity and by the way she ran her company. Like myself, Caylen is a great example of someone who works in the corporate world by day and is an entrepreneur by night.
Read about her journey and how she changed her passion into a buisness:
I never saw myself as the entrepreneurial type. Although, my mom would probably tell you differently since at the tender age of 8, I was slanging homemade slushies from a roadside lemonade stand.. competitively priced to the one down the block, of course!
I recently had my “oh shit” moment when I realized that I had outgrown “hobby status” and stepped into “this is a legit business” status. It was a profound moment for me to admit to myself that I am an entrepreneur and I built a company, brand and business from the ground up. Looking back, I am glad that I didn’t know what in store for my company in the 1.5 years since it started.
I started Canvas Candle Company in November of 2015 as a way to express myself creatively in ways that I couldn’t in my 9-5 job. While I loved, and still do, love my full-time job, there was a piece missing for me. I felt that I needed to create with my hands. It became my therapy, my outlet and my sanity. I was inspired by my friend, Angela of Glass and Brass Vintage, to start a small business and join the maker community.
Growing up my aunt always bought me different art kits to play with. I specifically remember a candle making phase I went through when I was 9 or 10, so I thought I would see if the same passion resonated at 28! It did, and soon enough I had turned my whole kitchen into a candle making factory – much to my husband’s dismay. I educated myself through talking with other candle makers, suppliers and of course the internet. Through an expensive phase of trial and error, I finally came up with my first scent – Sister, Sister. To this day, it remains my best seller and I truly believe it’s because this is where my passion started!
I found that what made me passionate was the need to bring more natural products to the market and educate people about the harmful materials they are burning in their homes and putting in their bodies.
In 2016, I applied for every market that would take me, went to every networking event I could go to and tried to remember every customer that had ever purchased from me. My business grew rapidly and soon enough my kitchen was no longer for eating, but for purely for candle making. It came to the point where my husband said “enough is enough, you’re in denial and need to get a studio space outside of our kitchen” (AKA the house of wax is over … GTFO haha). Fair enough! I connected with another local maker and we started looking for spaces.
Shortly after we signed the lease to our new space, I had a life threatening medical emergency that took me off my feet for a wretched 6 weeks. Well, what was supposed to be 6 weeks. As an entrepreneur, your mind is always rushing with ideas, plans and, well, I had orders to fill! With the help of my husband, friends and my aunt, we filled the orders and moved into my studio space. I invested the most amount I had ever spent on the business into a commercial wax melter and it was the best thing I could have ever done. The scariest, but the best. It allowed me to save time melting, and gain time to grow. Shortly after, I hired my first employee. She’s been my saviour and my sanity over the past 9 months since she started. And I tell her that every day!
My focus over the past 6 months has been our re-brand, connection with our community and continued growth. While my business is my passion and has given me a new focus in life, it has also been a struggle to find a healthy balance between work and play. There are days that I compromise my sleep and wellbeing for my business. Days where I forget to eat because I am so focused on my goals and days where I miss my friends and family because I let my business consume me.
Recently, I worked an 8 hour day at my full-time gig and then went to the studio for another 6. It was midnight and I was sitting in the studio alone feeling resentful of all the work that had to be done and the sleep and rest I was missing out on. I was fully questioning the reasons why I had started my business and the reason why I continued to grow Canvas. It was the closest I’d come to giving up. As I started to clean up and head home, my phone buzzed with a new email. It was a customer who had ordered candles earlier that week. She had emailed me to let me know she receive the candles and to thank me. Her message saved me. It was what snapped me out of my rut and made me realise the reason WHY I do what I do. Her message read; “Thank you for dropping off the candles. A friend of mine recently passed away and she loved your candles. I purchased them to burn in her honour”. I collapsed on the floor of my studio in tears. The fact that something I was doing could touch someone so deeply, and hopefully bring them peace in a time of need was my WHY! That was my “oh shit” moment when I realized this wasn’t a hobby anymore – this was for real.
Every late night. Every moment of stress. Every ounce of energy I have poured into this sweet baby of mine. It is all worth it.
So friends, a few words of advice from a maker, and entrepreneur that will hopefully inspire and scare you at the same time. While entrepreneurship is amazing in so many ways, be prepared to commit yourself to a life of your own consequence. There are sleepless nights, worries beyond your control and moments of doubt so huge they make Mount Everest look small. It will be expensive at first and you will fail a few times before you find your footing. People will say catty things and tell you how you “should” be running your business. Trust your gut. There will be copy cats but let them come – if they can hustle has hard as you, they deserve to be right alongside you. You will cry a lot but, you will also laugh a lot.
This journey is not for the faint of heart. If you believe you will succeed, then you will make it happen. You need to be strong willed and light of heart. Let the tough situations roll off your back and learn to laugh at yourself, daily. Connect with your fellow makers and customers, they are what will keep you going. Be modest and humble always and never let a bad day get the best of you. Take calculated risk when you need to and don’t let your fear outweigh your passion. And most importantly, always follow your heart because it already knows what is best.
I hope you can take these words of advice and mould them into your own story, your own success. Always remember, you are gifted in what you know and there is no one in this world that has the right to make you think any different. Surround yourself with support and distance yourself from anything that will dampen your light.
As an entrepreneur, I always love to connect with and meet new people. Feel free to connect with me on social media or at a networking event soon. I would love to hear your story and the passion that drives you!
Facebook: Canvas Candle Company