I Never Planned On Being a Candle Maker
Writing a bio about myself is probably the most uncomfortable, yet necessary piece of running any kind of business. Especially when my history all ties into who I am today.
Graduating with a degree in Commercial Design was supposed to set me on a path of colorful, artistic endeavors. The part I didn’t realize was, that the said path could be long, lonely, and sometimes disastrous.
Finding myself in a corporate cubicle with grey upholstered walls and expected to ‘create’ was laughable to my twenty-year-old self. I knew that my first job at a place that refers to themselves as “the party people”, with no actual evidence of there ever being a party, was not for me. My rebellious naivety led me to explore my first business, greeting cards. And this actually ended up being quite successful! Designs were minimalistic yet charming and ended up being stocked in fine shops like Kate’s Paperie and Papyrus to name a few. The greeting card business grew to a level in which many independent makers find themselves… either go into mass production (very expensive) - Or phase it out due to inability for one person to keep up. At that pivotal time in my young adulthood, I chose to phase it out and begin a family. Enter my next (and most important) job, motherhood.
Nearby in the village of Cold Spring, I was able to continue working in little shops and boutiques part time while I enjoyed being a young mommy. It was the best of both worlds really. I worked at two places simultaneously, a stationery gift shop with all sorts of fun paper and gift wrap etc., and a high-end baby boutique that was directly across the street. I was able to stay creative whether it was designing the next window display or if it was simply being around other local artists. When the opportunity of a lifetime presented itself [to buy the baby store!] came about, I did everything I could to wrangle a chance like that. I gathered every cent I ever had, I had my family’s blessing, and I already had a friendly relationship with the building’s landlord. It was all set. I started from absolutely nothing. Nothing but a rental agreement, a key, and some empty walls. The previous store owner sold everything off, shelving, inventory, even the hangers. Can you say crash course in retail ownership? After a couple of good years, we were suddenly and dramatically impacted by one of our country’s biggest recessions which ultimately led to the closing of our doors. When one door closes, another one opens… one month after my store closes, I learned I was expecting my second baby. The timing was incredible as I had been trying for over a year to have another baby and was beginning to lose faith. With this pregnancy I ended up on bed rest so in hind sight, there was no way I could manage a store anyway. I guess things happen for a reason.
Being a mom of two beautiful children eventually led me to my next business venture, Photography. Like most parents, I wanted to capture every moment! I had a lot of free time on my hands, so I spent a bulk of it sitting in libraries reading all sorts of Photography books. Self-taught, I hit the ground running. Toting around my camera every place I went, landed me some portrait jobs, family sessions and even sports photos. Although I do not run this aspect of my life as a business anymore, it is still very much a part of who I am. A lot of my current day photography can be seen on my blog www.newenglandandme.com where I journal all my notes from the northeast. A passion project creating an aesthetic between photos and creative writing.
This part is called “But, you don’t look sick.” After the birth of my son in 2010, I felt like my body never quite returned. Fatigue and aching muscles were on a whole new level. I remember feeling like a 90 year old woman trapped in a younger body. I look fine, but I couldn’t make it through routine tasks like food shopping or handling the kid’s sports schedules. I was diagnosed first with CREST disease (Scleroderma), a year following, diagnosed with Lupus. Basically, all it means is that my body is attacking itself under the assumption that it’s a virus. Lupus can present all sorts of symptoms such as joint pain, headaches, rashes, fatigue, and depression to name a few of my favorites. [Insert eye roll here.] To this day, my auto-immune discussions range from Hashimoto's Disease to more serious, Addison's disease. Ahh the puzzling world of Rheumatology.
Next part of my life is the simple fact that I DESIRE to work. As my children grow older, I want something that adds personal meaning and purpose. You can imagine how difficult it can be looking for work and forever fretting about whether or not I can physically keep up with the demands. And the truth is… a lot of it, I can’t. Most jobs require at least forty hours a week, able to lift up to thirty or fifty pounds and the ability to stand for periods of time. The other struggle is locating a job somewhat nearby, so I don’t expend my small reserve of energy on driving a couple hours a day. I began feeling like, I guess the only option for me is to create my own job.
"I never planned on being a candle maker".
In September of 2018, I purchased a luxury candle that was $45, and the scent was weak, the wick tunneled down through the center and well basically, it sucked. So I decided to make my own. On a bad pain day, I love nothing more than a hot bath, ibuprofen and a lit candle. I never set out to actually become a candle maker, it all just happened. After much trial and error, I fell in love with the process and wanted to push it further. It was very cathartic. I had been working at an architecture firm upstate while dabbling with my candles. Never in a million years did I think it would grow into a real business. It started with one store stocking my line, then another, then another! I thought it was just dumb luck - until I realized. Everything in my past is being stitched together for this moment. What seemed like a repetitive series of business attempts, perhaps failures, is actually all part of the master plan.
Today Hudson Candle is proudly hand-poured in my Hudson Valley home studio, using the highest quality wax and fragrances. Great candles are not only my thing, they are a symbol of personal growth and hope. My long and rocky road to this point made me a designer, a consumer, a mother, a retailer, a photographer, an artist, a patient, and now a modern maker.