The story of how I went from making candles in our 220 square foot guest room to a store front with 1000+ square feet.
It all started here in this room... well, sort of. It really all started in my tiny kitchen. I was bored, terribly bored. We were in the throes of quarantine and I had ran out of rooms in my home to remodel. I'm a person who often thinks I can DIY my way through life and candles were next on the agenda.
That tiny kitchen saw so much trial and error. I miiiight have almost caught a dishtowel on fire....twice. But then something happened. I don't know if you would call it finding my groove or what. Suddenly I was creating these magical candles and falling in love with the process. I had candles coming out of my ears and needed something to do with them. I began selling them through Facebook to friends and family, but knew I needed a larger audience. Thus started my farmers market days.
I credit the farmers market with putting me on the map. I had people every week coming back specifically for me and my candles. Yes, you read that right ME AND my candles. I truly believe when you buy a product, you're buying a piece of that person. From the farmers market, I moved onto selling monthly candle subscription boxes. The first few months, I worried if I was failing. I had only gained a handful of subscribers (literally a handful-5 total). However, deep down, I had these crazy dreams and lofty goals. I desperately wanted to be successful enough to have a store front. I told myself if it was meant to be, it would come to me. If not, then the timing wasn't there yet. I started hosting DIY candle parties in my house. While so much fun, they were very interruptive to our life. It would take 4+ hours for set up and take down. My living room just wasn't big or accommodating enough to take the parties to the level that would make them super successful. I came to a point where I was going to have to discontinue doing them for fear of it becoming too big and unmanageable.
Flash forward to this summer. Subscription boxes had really started to take off. Every event I attended, I was selling out. I felt more passion and purpose than I had in many years. I am someone who has struggled my entire life with depression and self-doubt. The success of Island Sham Farmhouse seemed to be the lifelong remedy I'd been looking for. At one event in July, I had a shopper ask where my store was located. I told her my "store" was 1/4 of a guest room closet, but she was more than welcome to stop by. She said, "oh no, listen, you need to call this lady. There's spots downtown." Did I call? Yes, but I waited 4 days because I was TERRIFIED! When I called, it was too late, the spot had already been leased. I was discouraged, but the person I called threw me a lifeline and boy what a lifeline it has become!
In August, I committed to renting a storefront. I found a landlord that believes in me and supports my vision and goals. Through weeks of backbreaking labor and what feels like 10,000 gallons of mop water, we created a store that is exactly what I had in mind when I started this journey. I say we because I didn't do this on my own. I had friends who volunteered both their labor and creativity to my endeavors. For them, I am eternally grateful. And my husband. Mr. Island Sham Farmhouse. There aren't words. We have been married 14 years and every day I thank God for sending him my way. He is the one person who has never doubted me, never stopped me from pursuing my goals (even when they are INSANE). He truly is my better half and there's no one else I want to go through life with.
Now here we are, approaching November and I spend most of my days pinching myself, trying to decide if this is real life. Remember that handful of candle box subscribers I had? Well now I have almost 30 subscribers. My goal was to make enough from those to be able to pay my rent. I can now pay said rent and all my utilities with those boxes. Candle parties have taken off like wildfire and I have met some of the most amazing individuals through them. Sharing my store with my customers really feels like sharing a part of myself. I keep waiting for the excitement of creating to wear off or for the rug to get pulled out from under me. I know it won't always be sunshine and rainbows and storms will come for me, but I'm ready for it. I believe in myself, for maybe the first time ever. I'm fulfilled. And I can't wait to see where this journey takes me. I hope you're along for the ride.
Sending love and light,