There are so many variations of this quote on the web… “Do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life,” “Do what you love, and the money will follow,” “Do what you love, and you will find the way to get it out to the world.” Although I think these quotes are great, I only halfway believe them, and here’s why…
I consider myself lucky. I am currently doing three things I love. First and foremost, I am a mom to three wonderful little boys who are the light in my life. I love taking care of them. But, I will say, it does involve some work. (Picture this if you will. I had to work from home one day due to the boys being sick. As I was speaking on a conference call to twenty of my colleagues, I was also feeding my baby, changing his diaper, looking in horror as he accidentally smeared his hand through his own poo and wiped it on the nursery wall, cleaning said nursery wall, and subsequently giving him a bath…and I’m proud to say, I never missed a beat on that call. Thank God for the mute button. So yeah, raising kids…there’s a little work involved.) Second, I have an awesome full-time position as a Director of Enrollment for a private University, and I love what I do. I have the opportunity to change lives every day at work. How could that not rock, right? But, it does take a lot of work, and I can’t say it is fun every moment of every day. Finally, I have this new venture, which I am just smitten with. I love it! But, like anything else worth doing, it takes some work.
Since graduating with my Bachelors degree in 2003, I have dreamed about owning my own business every.single.day. I have a forty-five minute commute, and have called myself countless times to remind my future self of all of the wonderful ideas I thought of during my commute, only to get so caught up in life a few hours later that I deleted the voice message. I have been continually searching for some idea that would be the next best thing out there that would generate millions. I’ve researched ideas and even contacted a few people about them, but have never moved forward with anything. Until now, the magical ideas I’ve come up with have all seemed impossible, forced, and too time-consuming to be worth it.
I have always loved scented candles and sweet smelling things (perfumes, body and room sprays, you name it). When I started working at sixteen, I purchased car insurance, gas, clothes, and scented candles. My family started to notice my love for them and would give them to me as presents each year for birthdays and Christmas. When I bought my first home eight years ago, I bought even more, and received even more than that as gifts. Here’s the kicker with my obsession…they make my husband sneeze! He has allergic reactions to scented items, and candles are no exception. As the years have passed, and our family has grown, my money has shifted toward my children, and I have realized it is probably not fair to light candles and force my husband to be around them just because I love them. So, my candles have found their way into dark drawers and closets, and only come out during special occasions. My husband has made several jokes about filing away candles in our “tiny candle drawer.” We have an entire dresser drawer full of scented tarts, tea-lites, and tiny votive candles. To an outsider, it’s probably a little weird.
In January of this year, the concept for one of our Signature Collection Candles came to me during a random conversation with my mother-in-law. I knew it was a good idea and I knew it was a candle that I would love, and that other candle connoisseurs like me would love, but I tabled it. Life is busy. I have a husband, three kids, a full-time career, friends and family, a house on the market, and a million other things to do. As much as I tried to keep my idea under the table far from sight, it kept nagging at me. I thought about it every day. I knew it was good idea. I never once thought it would make millions, or any money at all really. I just knew it was a good idea that was not on the market. Still, I ignored it. Then, one day in early March, I couldn’t stand it any longer, and I decided to learn how to make my own candles. I made a quick decision, did a little research on the internet, and drove to the store. And then drove back to the store…again…and again. Four trips and one internet purchase later, I had everything I needed to start making candles. And then, I put the bags of supplies in a corner. And they sat…and sat some more…until one day in late March the nagging was getting too loud for me to ignore it any longer. I fired up the stove and made my first candle. It turned out perfectly. I couldn’t believe it, and neither could my husband. He said, “Turns out you are pretty good at making candles. Who knew?” I certainly did not know. I was thrilled, and pumped. All of sudden, the creative juices started, and I was off to the store to buy more supplies to make more candles. I hand poured candles in my kitchen for a few weeks and loved it! I was looking forward to giving my homemade candles away as gifts. Then, I thought, why couldn’t I try and sell them? Maybe someone else out there in this big world would love my idea as much as I do. I thought, this will be easy, I’ll just set up a store and make candles in my kitchen. Then, one Saturday as I was melting my wax and adding fragrance oils, I heard my husband start sneezing. And then, my oldest son started, and before long I was sneezing too. The oils were too much. I realized at that point that unless I moved my candle-making outside, running a candle “factory” out of my home was not realistic. I was thwarted for a few days. I thought, “Well, that was fun. Oh well.” I thanked my husband for playing along with me, and apologized to him and our bank account for spending the money on my candle supplies.
Then, on one of my long commutes to work, the nagging started again, and I couldn’t shake it. It was annoying me right down to my core. (That’s probably how my poor husband feels whenever I start nagging him. Sorry about that sweetie.) That night, I did some research, made some contacts to candle makers, and have not looked back. From that point forward, I felt like I stepped on a train, and it has been rolling ever since. I am surprising myself with my own determination and creativity. I am working…and hard at that. I am doing what I love, but it is taking a lot of work, and a lot of sleep-deprived nights. But, I don’t mind. I am truly excited to get on my computer and work, talk with my manufacturer and toss ideas back and forth with her, and take my ideas from paper to reality. I LOVE this!
I am so proud of my candle collections. They are unique concepts inspired by events and people in my life. I believe candles are one of life’s little inexpensive pleasures that can change the entire look and feel of a space, and more importantly, a mood. When I close my eyes and take the time to take in the sweet aromatic notes of a really great candle, I am taken to a time or place that makes me happy. When I light a candle that emits refreshing beach fragrances, I am reminded of summer vacations with my grandparents and of surf-fishing and shell-hunting with my late Granddaddy early in the morning before everyone else came to the beach. When I light a candle that smells like spicy cinnamon and balsam, I’m reminded of Christmases with my Great Grammie and Popa when the entire family was in town and gathered around the table snacking, singing, and laughing with each other. When I light a candle that smells like sweet pumpkins, I’m reminded of the field trips I took as a little girl to the pumpkin patch, and how proud I was to carry (not easily I should add) my great big pumpkin off of the school bus home to my parents. Candles can be fun, romantic, whimsical, and comforting. Candles can create cheer and happiness, and set the tone of the room to whatever you want it to be. Candles are wonderful gifts, and for me, they bring warmth to my home, and my heart.
I am doing what I love, but unlike the quotes I mentioned at the start of this post, I am working hard at it. But, I don’t mind, because I LOVE it. I am tired. Scratch that. I am exhausted. I wake up foggy and bleary-eyed, but I am fulfilled. I am grateful. I have a family that means the world to me, a full-time job I adore, and this new venture that I am in love with. I’ve had challenges along the way, and the road to get here has not always been the easiest to navigate. I had many, many tough years growing up, but I made it past those years, and I am here and I am appreciative for those experiences.
I have shared this thought with some of my family and friends recently when I talk about my new business – I don’t know what the future has in store for Sweet Melissa’s. I hope it has great things. But, even if it never goes beyond what it is today, I will still be fulfilled, because I tried. After years of dreaming (and let’s not forget leaving myself messages), I finally had the courage to do this. I am putting myself out there in front of all of my family, friends, and colleagues, and although it can be quite scary at times, I know my future self will thank my current self for putting all of this hard work into something we both love 🙂
Until next time, cheers!
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