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Meet The Founder Behind These Personality-Filled Soy Candles

Our biggest challenges can sometimes birth our biggest blessings.

BOSS UP

Ever have life test you and force you into unknown territory? Sometimes, those challenges can birth our biggest blessings and yield new pathways for our lives that we never planned or imagined.

This rings true for wife, mother of two, and founder and "Chief Chandler" of Posh Candle Co., Tay Watts.

Posh Candle Co. sells hand-poured 100% soy candles (and accessories) that come in containers with memorable sayings and scents such as "Bad and Bougie", "Grey Sweatpants", and "Allergic to Bulls**t". While Tay always had a passion for crafts and entrepreneurship, it wasn't until she was in graduate school and found out she was unexpectedly pregnant with her second son that she realized she'd need to merge these two interests to fuel another source of income for her family. At seven months pregnant, Tay launched Posh Candle Co. with the mission to inspire women to be their authentic selves.

Tay chatted with xoNecole about the successes and curveballs she's experienced running her Posh Candle Co. and how she's evolved as a solo entrepreneur. She also discusses the critical moment in her business when she was forced into full-time entrepreneurship, how she balances motherhood, critical resources that have been instrumental in her personal and business development, and tips for others looking to stand out in crowded niches.

Check out Tay's story below!

What is the need you are trying to fill with Posh Candle Co.?

I thought about the way that I use candles and the way they were being presented to me at the stores. I wasn't finding that connection. I burn candles when I'm in work mode, when I'm cleaning, catching time to myself as a mom, during bathtime or when doing meditation. I wanted the phrases to promote or encourage a positive mindset, promote self-love, or spark laughter. For example, our "F**kboy Repellent" is one of the candles that make people laugh.

Courtesy of Posh Candle Co.

"I wanted the phrases to promote or encourage a positive mindset, promote self-love, or spark laughter."

What were some of the biggest challenges you faced early on?

[At the time], I was in the middle of my last year of graduate school. I had my final papers, internship, and then a newborn. I was trying to find that balance of work and life. [Also, candles involve] a lot of testing. You simply don't just mix a scent and wax and put it out there. It can take months before you find a perfect combination. There are some scents that don't work well in soy wax. It took me about six months to develop the first four scents. Recently, I've been working on a scent and it's been about six months.

A lot of money goes into getting samples of fragrances from different suppliers and sourcing the jars from different connections. You want to connect with suppliers who offer high quality materials. You're collecting samples from all over to make sure you're getting the best. You don't want to mix something together and send it out to people and they're like, "What is this?"

Did you have any prior entrepreneurial experiences? How did you start building your customer base? 

I took eight years of failure and put that into Posh Candle Co. My first business was back in 2008. It was a jewelry company. I was one of those people that thought you could put up a website and people would find you. I quickly found out that was not the case. I got one order in one year. I [also] had a soap business. I've done hair, bath and body.

Prior to launching Posh Candle Co., I had a long talk with myself. I said if I'm not willing to put everything into this, don't start it. If I'm not willing to go super hard, then I don't deserve it. To me, the common theme of why all of those projects failed was simply me. I wasn't going out and learning out what I needed to. I wasn't applying all of my talent. I wasn't interested in learning about SEO. I was doing the bare minimum. I decided I was going to put my all into it and see what happens. Within those few months of launching, I was head down - full throttle. Within six months, I had an order for 5,000 candles.

"I decided I was going to put my all into it and see what happens. Within those few months of launching, I was head down - full throttle. Within six months, I had an order for 5,000 candles."

How did you get that first 5,000-candle order?

I was building relationships. I was in a few Facebook groups for entrepreneurs every day networking and giving free advice to other people. Also, I started reaching out to influencers and upcoming bloggers. I told them we were a new candle company and they looked like they would enjoy our product. [I asked], "Can I send you something? There's no pressure for you to post it." These were micro-influencers so they were excited to get something for free. They would get the candle and repost it. My idea was to show that somewhere in the world someone had my candle and were enjoying it. That was a strategic way to create trust. I pay attention to a lot of the things I'm drawn to and the things I do before I purchase and apply that to my business.

What’s a challenge you’ve had since launching?

The biggest challenge is growth and how I'm not yet at the point of building my team. I have no idea how to hire someone. Wholesale orders are getting bigger and coming in faster to the point where I'm so wrapped up making them that I don't have the time to sit with someone [and train them.]

If you want to scale, [I've learned] you should start with a business plan. I went with whatever was going to help me provide income. I wasn't really thinking about the long-term. If you're really serious about it and thinking in the future, that should [be included in your plan.]

Why did you diversify your product range?

I'm not just a candle company, but I create an experience. Diversifying offers you more opportunity to sell to your customers. People have different preferences. Maybe someone isn't a candle person but they like incense. They are going to become your customer. The sage, the Palo Santo… all of those are different items that create a mood and fragrance in your home.

"I'm not just a candle company, but I create an experience. Diversifying offers you more opportunity to sell to your customers."

Why did you decide to run Posh Candle Co. full-time?

For several months, I did the balancing act. I'd get up at 4 A.M. and take a one hour commute to work. I worked at a busy mental health clinic until 4 P.M. and then the commute back home was two hours. When I got home, I'd have to fulfill all my orders. Mental health has always been my passion. I had no intentions of quitting my 9-5. I was going to stick it out until I became licensed. Posh Candle Co. was never supposed to be full-time.

One day, I went to work and lost my job in a really weird way. They said my position was borrowed from another clinic and they want their position back. It took me about 15-20 minutes to realize I was getting let go. When it hit me, I cried in my office. What was I going to do? There's nothing more scary than being a full-time entrepreneur. You don't know what you're going to make day to day. A 9-5 is very safe. I took two days to feel sorry for myself. The turning point was the third day, I remembered that I asked for this. I was miserable commuting every day. I saw it as a sign to go.

"Posh Candle Co. was never supposed to be full-time. One day, I went to work and lost my job in a really weird way. It took me about 15-20 minutes to realize I was getting let go."

How do you balance work and motherhood?

It's all in the planning. You need to identify your most productive hours out of the day. For me, those hours are 3 A.M. - 9:30 A.M. Typically, that's before my kids wake up. I'm already up doing the most important things that I need to do. Having my kids with me every step of the way, I recognize their needs as well. After I'm done doing what I'm doing in the first part of the day, I make sure they get what they need. Maybe we'll go to the park, a museum, or see family. I use that as a way to wear them out. I know in the afternoon, I'll need to get more things done.

What tips do you have for standing out in a crowded market?

I looked back at the theme of what I've done in the past and I wasn't being myself. Everything you see on social media or the content I produce is all mine. The silly jokes I say, those are mine. I use my own authentic personality to find my tribe.

What keeps you going?

When people launch their business, they tend to chase others who are at a higher level than they are. My advice is to network at your level - network across. Take people with you.

It's about building relationships. Build authentically with people. When they get, you get. When you get, they get. It's about looking out for people and creating a community that you can rely on for support.

Courtesy of Posh Candle Co.

"It's about building relationships. Build authentically with people. When they get, you get. When you get, they get. It's about looking out for people and creating a community that you can rely on for support."

What’s your favorite business resource?

It used to be Shopify resources. Now, I came across this YouTube account called Women of Impact with Lisa Bilyeu. Finding that has been a game-changer. I love seeing different women from different backgrounds being interviewed and talk about their story and how they came up. If you're not social like me, it helps to see them and feel understood.

To learn more about Posh Candle Co, visit www.poshcandcandleco.com or @poshcandleco on Instagram.

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

Featured image by Shutterstock

This article is in partnership with Staples.

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