Meet the Maker – Jake Carnley of Great Bear Wax Co.
This week in our ongoing Meet the Maker series, we’re getting to know Jake Carnley, the chicken & dumplin-loving, candle-pouring, coffee-drinking guy behind the Great Bear Wax Co. Welcome, Jake!
LBC: What inspired you to take the leap as an entrepreneur?
Jake: Right after I graduated from Auburn University, I spent 3 months in Northern California. When I got back to Alabama, I had two job offers: one at a church in Louisiana, the other at a private practice in Birmingham, Alabama. I travelled to both places and interviewed, but neither felt like home. So, back in Auburn, with nothing to do and a little bit of extra money, I decided to make the idea that I had been sitting on for a few years come to life!
LBC: When you first got started, how did you envision your business would be defined?
Jake: I wanted to go straight into men’s products. Products like face wash, shaving goods, balms, and hair products, and then break into other products like clothing and more. I thought my way into this would be candles, but we started selling so many candles that we sort of became known as a candle company. We called it Great Bear Wax Co. for good reason – so we will be offering much more than candles in the future.
LBC: How would you describe what you create?
Jake: I like to call them “well-designed and crafted candles that both women and men feel confident burning.”
LBC: Where can we find your products?
Jake: We have products in over 70 brick and mortar storefronts nationwide. Locally we are in Alabama Outdoors, Revelator Coffee Company, Alabama Goods, Pepper Place Market, and a few others!
LBC: Walk us through your typical work day.
Jake: Well, now that I have a puppy, I wake up to her rustling around. I take her out and make sure she and I are both fed before we head out the door. (She likes her lamb and brown rice food; I’ll take kimchi and eggs.) When I get to the shop, I’ll usually make a plan for the day. On days when we pour, we will pour several hundred candles; and on days when we ship, we will pack up boxes and get them out! I’m an afternoon coffee guy, soon days when I’m not pouring, I like to sit at a shop and do online work.
LBC: What are 3 things makers should think through when they initially decide to start a business?
Jake: I think one would be the “why.” Why would you start your own business? Why does the market need what you have to sell? Why would anyone care?
Then would be a self evaluation. Is this something I really want to do?
The next would be to immediately address any fears you have. There will be the voice in your head that says “you can’t do this,” “you’re not smart enough,” or “you don’t have what it takes,” and you need to come against those thoughts, full-force. If you have an idea, run with it. You have what it takes!
LBC: When you’re overwhelmed, what brings you back to focus?
Jake: Knowing how many folks have rallied around me and truly believe in me. Piper (my pup) is also such a constant; no matter how I feel or how I do, she still needs me and loves me. I also keep in mind the thought that I am building something, and building things that last takes time. I don’t want Great Bear to have this super-famous, 5-year burst of popularity; I want to build something that lasts the generations.
LBC: Tell us about a few of the best business decisions you’ve made to date.
Jake: The absolute best business decision that I have ever made is choosing to involve mentors in my life – both personal and business mentors. Another was to move to Birmingham, Alabama and embed myself in this community.
LBC: Please share one mistake or obstacle from your business experience. How did you bounce back/overcome it?
Jake: I poured a big run of candles and didn’t give myself enough time to do them properly. I poured them too hot, and I ruined almost 6 dozen candles. Keep in mind – they are still burnable, but do not meet my standard aesthetically. This was just a few weeks ago, which makes it all the more frustrating. I have been doing this too long to still make such a mistake.
Don’t get in a hurry! We bounced back by settling down and coming up with a plan for a sample sale, which offers folks one of these candles at a highly discounted price. It’s a great way for folks to test out Great Bear, because I have found that the first candle is the hardest to sell.
LBC: Is there a cause or organization that you contribute to that you’re particularly passionate about?
Jake: There are two missionaries on campus at Georgia Tech that we help support. I also give to the JH Ranch, which is an adventure ministry in California that I worked at for 5 years. We are always looking for ways to give back!
LBC: What are 3 essential resources in your business toolbox that you can’t do without?
Jake: My phone; a painters tool; and my mentors.
LBC: Suppose we had a time machine. If you blasted ourselves forward a few years, where would we see your company?
Jake: I want to employ men and women in our state, so hopefully we will have scaled up to the point of employing many folks in our community. I want people to see Great Bear as an innovator. We want to constantly be producing the highest quality goods we can.
LBC: What’s one thing you would eat, if you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life?
Jake: My mom’s chicken and dumplin’s.
LBC: Your musical playlist is full of…
Jake: The Grateful Dead, The Beatles and Garth Brooks.
LBC: Tell me a few of places on your travel “bucket list”.
Jake: Portland, Maine, Cape Cod and Alaska.
Thank you, Jake, for sharing your talent with us! We absolutely love your work and we look forward to all the wonderful things ahead for Great Bear! We’re cheering you on…
Want to see your brand featured in our continuing “Meet the Maker” series? Drop us a line: hello AT luckybreakconsulting.com. Please use “MEET THE MAKER” as the subject line and be certain to include your web address. We look forward to hearing from you!