This week in our ongoing Meet the Maker series, we’re excited to introduce you to Anne Marie of Sparklefly Candle Company.
LBC: What inspired you to take the leap as an entrepreneur?
Anne Marie: My love affair with candles and scents started when I was very young. I began studying the art of candle-making and it became my passion, my creative expression and my emotional outlet. In 2011, with much support and encouragement to finally turn a dream into a reality, I formed Sparklefly Candle Company. During this time, there was one particular little person that encouraged beyond all others, that was my daughter, then 7. She inspired the name Sparklefly from all of the creativity, love and determination she was “sparking” in me as she seemed to flutter around me. My goal is to transform that love, creativity and beauty into every product I make to “spark” those same feelings in my customers.
LBC: How would you describe what you create?
Anne Marie: Sparklefly Candle Company creates deliciously scented candles and home fragrance items that look as beautiful as they smell. Everything is designed to help you experience, decorate and celebrate life. Made by hand in the USA, my products include wildly pleasing scented candles in sleek glass tumblers, coordinating recycled glass platters, bowls and bottles and our biggest crowd-pleaser, the Sparklefly Scented Sparkle Stones, our versatile alternative to candles. All of the Sparklefly candles are adorned with limited edition Sparkle Chains. Each chain is made using steel and glass, creating our signature look that has come to define my brand. They add a little fun to each product and who couldn’t use a little more fun? I do my best to use recyclable materials in the making of my products as well as in the packaging. Every item comes gift wrapped in 100% recycled Kraft boxes, the wrappings are made from recyclable and/or recycled paper and the accessories are made from recycled glass. I also share ideas on how to re-purpose Sparklefly items after they are used. This is my commitment to being green.
LBC: When you first got started, how did you envision your business would be defined?
Anne Marie: At that point in my life, I had held a position as Client Experience Director for a market research company specializing in Customer Experience Management for many years. I had the opportunity to work with and learn from some of the top brands in the world. I knew that I could apply this background to design an experience that could represent my passions. It was essential that every product developed met my high standards when it came to the materials, the aesthetic and the delivery. I knew that my customers had to be involved in the process and decisions and that my success was directly linked to providing more than just a candle, I had to provide a feeling. I get my greatest joy when interacting with my customers and learning how they are using and enjoying my products. All of my decisions are made with their feedback in mind.
LBC: Where can we find your products?
Anne Marie: I currently sell on my website, at Sparklefly Home Parties, local trade shows and Etsy. I am excited to be launching a wholesale campaign in the very near future.
LBC: Walk us through a typical work day.
Anne Marie: Wow, I’m not sure there is anything typical about each day. When you are starting out, you wear so many hats that you are often moving from one task to another in effort to keep up and keep moving forward. I am also still working my full time position while building this business. I try to start my day as early as possible with a HUGE cup of coffee and tackle emails, order requests, social media posts, networking and anything else I can fit in before I go to work. I spend my lunch break doing the same and setting up production for new inventory, website updates, calls, design planning, research, webinars, more more coffee and networking. The evenings are spent with the family and kid’s bedtime is for production, packaging and shipping and sometimes more coffee. This is a family owned and run business so I incorporate my family into as much as possible so we can enjoy time together while helping each other. My children LOVE it, thank God and they get just as much satisfaction from our successes as I do.
LBC: What are 3 things makers should think through when they initially decide to start a business?
Anne Marie: In my opinion, the most important 3 questions to ask yourself and answer as honestly as possible are, “are you willing to commit to working harder than you ever have before?”, “do you have the support of your family and loved ones, are they willing to allow you to work harder than you ever have before?” and “are you clear about who you are and what you represent and is that marketable?”
LBC: When you’re overwhelmed, what brings you back to focus?
Anne Marie: It’s easy to get overwhelmed as a small business owner which makes it so necessary to have support mechanisms in place to help reel you back in when you are about to go off the deep end. Belonging to groups like Indie Business Network and the LBU Alumni really help keep everything in check. When you know you are not alone, you have nothing to fear. There is always someone out there that has been through it before and can provide some great coping advice or just a very understanding ear. I have been blessed to form some amazing relationships through these types of networks. Chocolate helps too!
LBC: Tell us about a few of the best business decisions you’ve made to date?
Anne Marie: Although the Home Party concept was not the original intent of the business plan, it pushed me out of my comfort zone and forced me to speak about myself in front of groups of people. WHOA SCARY! But, SO GLAD I did! I got to meet so many awesome people, learn what they liked and what they didn’t like, form a Sparklefly Product Review Team which get to test new products before they are made public and really form a community that I adore. My most recent best decision was attending the Lucky Break Consulting Wholesale class. I had been considering wholesale for a long time but this class not only gave me the tools, it provided me with another phenomenal support system of exceptional entrepreneurs that I am honored to be a part of.
LBC: Please share one mistake or obstacle from your business experience. How did you bounce back/overcome it?
Anne Marie: The past 3 years have been a learning and growth process. There have been some happy mistakes and some, “oh boy, that was definitely not right” decisions. In 2013, I decided to open another line of business and devoted a lot of my creative time and resources to it but it just wasn’t right for me or Sparklefly. Luckily, it didn’t take me long to come to terms with that and refocus on my product and my customer. It’s so important to keep your finger on the pulse of what you are and what you want to become. If you always have a clear vision of this, when you do make a wrong turn, you can own up to it, let it go and move on in the right direction again. It’s not always easy but it’s necessary.
LBC: What are 3 essential resources in your business toolbox you can’t do without?
Anne Marie: My Price-O-Matic, my iPhone and my network of supporters.
LBC: If you’ve been a client of Lucky Break Consulting, please detail which specific products or services you’ve utilized and share a sentence or two about how they’ve proved helpful.
Anne Marie: I was lucky enough to attend the fall semester of Lucky Break University Secrets to Wholesale Success. This class was so much more than I had ever expected. Lela Barker’s attention to every detail and the motivational way in which she approaches her course is outstanding. I am actually having withdrawals. Any serious business owner would walk away fully prepared to take the necessary steps to move into the wholesale world. The support, community and invaluable friendships created through this course are a complete bonus. I highly recommend this experience.
LBC: Name one thing you would eat, if you could only eat one thing?
Anne Marie: Chocolate.
LBC: Share one your guiltiest pleasures?
Anne Marie: Chocolate.
LBC: What’s your best recipe?
Anne Marie: My mom’s Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake with Chocolate Ganache. I make it for every special occasion because if I don’t, I would probably be disowned by my family and it reminds me of my mother who was a magical baker. It probably caused my obsession with chocolate. xo
Connect with Anne Marie + Sparklefly Candle Company all around the web:
Thank you, Anne Marie, for sharing your wonderful line and talent with us. We look forward to keeping up with Sparklefly Candle Company.
Want to see your brand featured in our continuing “Meet the Maker Monday” series? Drop us a line: firstname.lastname@example.org. Please use “MEET THE MAKER” as the subject line and be certain to include your web address. We look forward to hearing from you!