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Day Job: KayCee (recent graduate) J.J. (Marketing)
Side Business: Steep Sisters Soy Candles
Tell us about your business.
Our soy candle business was born from a setback related to starting our own tea business. After digging into everything that would be required to start the tea business, we realized that the timing for this venture just wasn’t right. However, we had already purchased several pounds of ingredients for the tea business. This led us to consider new ventures that we could use those ingredients in. We ran through many different ideas, but the one that stuck was to make soy candles. Many of the initial scents offered are based on some of our favorite tea blends and/or are topped with some complementary ingredients.
What motivated you to start your business?
Both of us really have a passion for owning our own businesses and being our own boss. That’s what led me (J.J.) to starting my own Custom Gifts and Apparel company called J-Squared Designs, LLC. We’re always thinking of different business ideas, and anticipate owning many more in the future.
What steps did you take to get started?
We started off by researching how to make candles. The internet is full of resources to facilitate this. Next we started off with a basic “Soy Making Kit” just to see if this was a practical idea. After continued sessions of trial and error and more research, we began to get some products that we felt were appropriate to sell!
Tell us about one action you took that has helped your business to grow.
Selling through Etsy was a great decision because it makes us look more reputable in addition to giving us an opportunity to leverage the traffic to their website.
Name three tools (e.g., evernote) – free or paid – that are vital to your business.
Sideline App – Gives us a free business phone number
Google Docs – For KayCee and I to share ideas and feedback
Buffer – To schedule social media posts
What has been your biggest challenge and how did you overcome it?
This is a very saturated market. Instead of relying on online sales, we will be making appearances in craft shows, farmer’s markets, etc. to sell directly to customers in a less competitive environment. Additionally, a retail location has agreed to sell our products as well. We are trying to sell through as many different channels as possible.
Share your greatest business success.
The first sale that wasn’t a friend or family member. The first Etsy sale we received from a true stranger was an extremely happy day for us!
We expect some level of support from our friends and family, but getting support from strangers makes us think that this could be a viable business.
What is your ultimate business goal?
To make enough money from this business to help kick start the next business, and so on, and so on.
How do you balance your job, business and family life?
We’re still figuring that out. KayCee is usually the idea person, and I (J.J.) am usually the executer. I work fulltime in a job that requires me to travel quite a bit. It is a constant struggle to make time to blog (our tea blog), make shirts (J-Squared Designs), make candles, and make time to have fun. My goal is to be full time self-employed, so sometimes reminding myself of this goal is all I need to push through.
What advice would you give to someone just starting their side hustle?
Keep at it! Things will not always work out the way you want them to, but that may not always be a bad thing. In our case, postponing the tea business has led to the creation of our candle business.