Ever had a brand stop you in your tracks because their brand visuals are just that solid? Me, too, friend, and Standard Wax often has that effect on me. The brand has gained a cult-like following thanks to its combination of unique vessels and well-style photography.
Samantha, Standard Wax’s founder, is huddling with Lela in the summer semester of Brick House Branding to envision the next evolution of this beloved brand and I can’t wait to show you what they come up with together! In the meantime, we’ve invited Samantha to share more about the origins of her home fragrance brand.
Samantha Thompson of Standard Wax
LBC: What inspired you to take the leap as an entrepreneur?
Samantha: I graduated from college in the midst of a recession and had trouble finding a job. When I did finally get hired, I was never truly happy in any position I had. I was always dreaming of ways to do things better and tried a few different little businesses before Standard Wax unexpectedly took off. When working on the businesses started to take up more time than my day job, I knew it was time to take a risk and pursue it full time.
LBC: How would you describe what you create?
Samantha: I like to believe that we create an experience, even though we’re selling a product. Since you have approximately one million choices when it comes to buying candles, I try to make our candles something that feels truly special. Whether it reminds you of a place you love or helps you set an intention for your day, our candles are more than just a trinket in your home.
LBC: Where can we find your products?
Samantha: We sell online at standardwax.com, in small retail shops all across the US, in select Anthropolgie stores, and via our private label program.
LBC: When you first got started, how did you envision your business would be defined?
Samantha: Boy, have we evolved over the past 8 years! In the early days, Standard Wax was all about creating candles in handmade ceramic vessels. While this was nice when we were selling 10 pieces a month, we quickly learned that our processes weren’t sustainable.
LBC: Walk us through a typical workday.
Samantha: I’m a big fan of to-do lists, so my day always starts with defining what I need to accomplish during work hours. I just had a baby, so time has become one of the most valuable assets in my life! Making sure I can make the most of my time away at work is so important. A typical day is usually spent addressing my inbox, helping customers dream up custom candle projects, working on Instagram posts, and boring things like paying bills, running inventory reports, and making production schedules for my team.
LBC: What are 3 things entrepreneurs should think through when they initially decide to start a business?
Samantha: 1) Are you able to let go? Outsourcing things you aren’t the best at is the key to success, I think! If you’re a control freak, life is about to get really rough if when you start a business. 2) What’s your family/home situation like? Running a business comes with a lot of financial uncertainty. It’s a great idea to make sure you’re ready for that and prepared for the ups and downs. 3) What makes your product truly special? Figure that out and then don’t be afraid to holler it at the top of your lungs to anyone who will listen. It’s hard to stand out these days, so make sure you know what sets you apart from the masses before you dive in.
LBC: When you’re overwhelmed, what brings you back to focus?
Samantha: Meditation and to-do lists. Also, stepping back and remembering what I’m grateful for. Overwhelm is a scary feeling, so taking the time to reflect on all of the good things happening really helps stop that emotion down.
LBC: Tell us about the best business decision you’ve made to date.
Samantha: Hiring my mom! She’s a star employee and I don’t know what I’d do without her. Finding good help is SUPER difficult, but the right kind of help can make your life all kinds of easier. She manages all of our shipping and production and knowing those areas are covered is a huge relief for me every day.
LBC: Please share one misstep or obstacle from your business experience. How did you bounce back or overcome it?
Samantha: Moving from handmade to manufacturing was a huge challenge. The world of getting custom goods made overseas was way out of my league and I jumped in quick. Our first holiday season with this new system, we had no product to sell. Our shipment was late and I didn’t handle it well. Communication was jumbled and our sales suffered A LOT. I look back on that time with a lot of anxiety, but I’m also proud that we were able to weather that storm and things are finally feeling back on the up and up.
LBC: What are 3 essential resources in your business toolbox that you can’t do without?
Samantha: Profit First: If you haven’t read the book, the gist is making sure you’re allocating money for things that are important (paying yourself, setting aside for taxes, saving some money for fun, etc). It really changed my perspective on how I run my business and where the money goes, and I still use tactics from the book on the daily.
Wunderlist: Like I mentioned before, I live and die by a to-do list and this one is what I’ve found works best for me. I love the daily view so I can keep my eyes on the prize each day and accomplish what I need to before hurrying back home to snuggle my baby girl.
Lucky Break Consulting: I’m not just saying this because I’m on the blog, either! LBC has been in my pocket for several years now and has helped me get through some tough business roadblock. I’ve used a call with Lela to chat through price increases, have updated my wholesale policies using the module on wholesale and use Price-o-Matic daily.
LBC: Imagine that we had a time machine. If we blasted ourselves forward a few years, where would we see your company?
Samantha: Standard Wax is certainly in a transition phase right now. As the candle market – and retail in general – continues to change, grow and become more crowded, we have to evolve too. I can’t exactly tell you what the future of this business will look like, but I do know it will involved a lot more custom work and a fun rebrand thanks to Brick House Branding this summer!
LBC: How have your interactions with Lucky Break influenced your business?
Samantha: I find inspiration from Lela and the Lucky Break resources almost everyday! Price-o-Matic really opened my eyes to some serious holes in my businesses pockets. Since using the system, I feel confident that I’m making the profit I need to on every product that goes out the door. Plus, simply following Lela on Instagram provides little nuggets of wisdom and inspiration that get me through the tough days.
LBC: What benefits have you seen from taking classes, working with a mentor, and/or building community around your business?
Samantha: As a solo-business owner, getting the advice and opinions of others has never been a bad decision. One of my favorite accomplishments has been creating an accountability group of lady business owners. This community has proven PRICELESS. We’re real with each other about money, stress, wins and losses and more. The ability to chat through scenarios with someone else always brings new ideas and I’m thankful for that arena.
LBC: Share one of your guiltiest pleasures.
Samantha: Trash TV. I’ve seen the entire Gossip Girl series SEVERAL times.
LBC: If you could hire someone to do just one thing that you loathe doing, what would it be?
Samantha: Wash my sheets and put them back on the bed.
LBC: What are a few of the places on your travel bucket list?
Samantha: China, most of South America, the French countryside, Vietnam, anywhere in Scandinavia .
Thank you, Samantha, for sharing your talent with us. We absolutely love what you’re doing with Standard Wax, and we look forward to all the wonderful things ahead for you and your company. We’re cheering you on!