Effing Candle Co. - where we've been and where we're going

First, I want to thank you for an incredible 2022. This year had more plot twists than any movie I've ever seen, including: 

  • Moving the business out of the house and into a studio
  • I left my freelance job and went full-time with Effing Candle Co 
  • Getting featured on the cover of The Pitch, the local news via KMBC, and the national news, and more
  • Surviving a rough start to our studio opening with a vandalized (very large, VERY expensive) window and the vandals like our windows so much that they got us again three days before Christmas
  • Hiring our first employees
  • Getting Retweeted by Monica Lewinsky and Busy Phillips 😳
  • Selling hundreds (almost a thousand!) Abortion is Healthcare candles and donating 15% of sales to Planned Parenthood Great Plains. Our first half of the year donation was $2192 at the end of June. We are coordinating with PPGP to help make the most impact with our end-of-year donation that will come in 2023.
  • Launching the refill program and refilling 255 ounces of wax, keeping 36ish new glass jars out of your homes
  • Selling 98 mystery boxes (~400 candles) and keeping slightly imperfect candles from being thrown away or wasted
  • Growing our wholesale business A LOT

This year we used (approximately)

  • 3,000+ lbs of wax
  • Hundreds of lbs of fragrance (I actually can't accurately calculate this one without spending hours sifting through individual online order receipts) 
  • 10,000-ish wicks 
  • 6500 glass jars and a comparable number of travel candle tins

Ok, now that we've covered the highlights, I want to share some lowlights because it was not all rainbows and unicorns. These are personal and professional because we're all human and we don't get to just walk away from it all when we go to work: 

  • We lost two of our cats this year and had absolutely no time to grieve
  • I (hi, it's Birdie) took three vacation days the whole year
  • I felt pulled, pushed, and shoved in 100 different directions at all times
  • I was the marketer, maker, shop manager, research and development person, analyst, forecaster, account manager, strategist, creative director, designer, customer service department, and more
  • We experienced some SKU cannibalizations (for example, the success of the pumpkin spice skulls meant a big overflow of Hocus Pocus 7oz jar inventory) and we need to work on dialing that in so we're not in a position of discounting product that takes time, energy, and materials to make and discounting valuable product is not how we're going to grow the business or maintain adequate profitability

I am really burned out and looking forward to growing our team next year. The exponential growth we've experienced has been incredible, but not sustainable for me, personally. We are implementing three company-wide weeks of rest for full-time employees throughout the year in 2023 to build in inventional moments of pause for all of us. As a CEO, I recognize that rest is part of productivity. We are currently brainstorming what our PTO policy should look like with the three weeks of rest plus PTO days that can be used for any purpose. Any time I've worked for other folks, taking PTO was very stressful because I was off, but no one else was, and it lead to very little rest because I have often been a one-person team.

Next year we will not be launching many new SKUs or fragrances. Instead, we will be focusing on wholesale relationships, partnerships, analyzing the data on what is worth keeping in the collection, and streamlining processes so that we can grow in a way that's smart and safe. We are at a critical point in the business growth where we can flourish or flop and I know we have it in us to flourish if we are mindful and intentional about what we make, when we make it, and where we sell it. We will also be hiring a few positions next year - a shop assistant that works 12-15 hours a week, helping with production tasks and managing the shop on Saturdays so that we can continue to grow our in-person sales without me being in the store every single second on every single day that we're open; a customer service support person who can field emails and messages on social media because I can't keep up with the volume of communications that are happening and I am a firm believer in "watering our garden" which means that we spend 95% of our time growing our community and interacting with our friend and fans and 5% of our time "weeding our garden" dealing with complaints and haters. Tbh, we have very few complaints and we had less than 10 candles returned all year. Issues with orders (missing candles or receiving the wrong sku) happened less than 20 times this year out of 2653 orders (.75% inaccuracy rate.) 

Personally, I am looking forward to stepping away from a lot of the marketing tasks. I love doing it and I have a lot of ideas, but the day-to-day maintenance of social media and email marketing is not the best use of my time and I need some separation from the constant criticisms, critiques, and "you know what you should make" or "your stuff is so overpriced" comments so that I can still find enjoyment in doing this every single day.

The community we've built with the brand is something I'm really proud of. Do we have haters? Of course. Does that hurt my feelings? Absolutely, yes. But 99% of the people we interact with are kind, generous, thoughtful, supportive, and more. Many customers are now people I consider friends and the outpouring of kindness and support when Digit died has been the only thing that's gotten me through this holiday season. 

My wishes for 2023: 

  • Continued growth
  • Rest
  • Travel
  • More help and opportunities to pay people a fair wage
  • Consistent shop hours
  • Meaningful, impactful partnerships 
  • Scaling (with the help of new equipment) 
  • A kitty or two 😻 (maybe a shop cat?!)