Happy June, and WELCOME to Sea Love Candles & Company (and our very first blog post!) I'm excited, nervous, and humbled to have the opportunity to let my hair down, get real, and connect our tribe with inspiration. So, I'm going to dive in and introduce myself with some background of our little candle company and the recent creation of our NEW scent studio in Kennebunk, Maine. I am Stacy, co-founder and lover of the ocean, boho coastal vibes, and well, anything L-O-V-E-! I've always had a passion of style and design and creating ambient spaces. Candles have always been a constant in my life and super passionate about the way a candle can add to a space, enhance a gathering and help to create special moments. I believe that a home is special and needs to be a place where the soul is rejuvenated. My husband Barry and I are also lovers of a good cold beer on the backyard deck or community bar, walking the beach with our two adopted dogs Chewbacca and Cleo (you'll see Miss Cleo around the studio!) We enjoy new vegetarian cooking, traveling and exploring the beautiful coast of Maine...and of course, valuable time friends and family is everything.
The name for our little candle business came from my love of sea and the "& Company" was recently added when we opened the scent studio to custom candle making. We wanted to welcome the local community and enjoy the company of our frequent travelers that visit our little coastal town . Supporting small businesses is something that I am passionate about and are grateful for people like you who take the time to listen to our story and support our product.
I'm very excited to launch the first blog post in our series called "Featured Small Business." We wouldn't be where we are without the love and support of our 200+ retail stockist family all over the US and all the amazing makers we have been blessed to get to know, support, and call friends. Melissa from Salt & Branch is our very first featured business and she is just the sweetest! Each month we will be featuring a different small business or artisan success story. Our goal is to introduce you to a new business that you will love, like we do! We appreciate YOU and hope you keep reading to learn more about Salt & Branch - enjoy our Q&A with Melissa ;)
- Tell us about your business and what you do (name, location, type of business).
We are Salt and Branch, an ecommerce store that focuses on curating Coastal Farmhouse goods for your home. My name is Melissa and I run the business with my partner, Adam. Adam helps with lots of back end tasks that it takes to run the business. It’s just the two of us so it’s a very small operation right now. We live just south of Boston and currently we are only online, no physical store presence.
- When did you open your business and how did you get started?
We launched our business on January 1, 2020 but started working on getting the business model together several months prior. Having a home goods store has been an interest of mine for quite some time. I’ve wanted to have a small boutique store in a coastal town; the kind that you always want to go back to because they have unique and handmade items that you can’t find elsewhere. I’ve always been a beach girl at heart and love everything blue. The name Salt and Branch came from combining our love of the ocean and nature.
- What is your favorite part of being a store owner? Least favorite?
My favorite part of being a store owner has been discovering small businesses and connecting with these makers. I wasn’t sure how the process of curating products was going to go, but everyone I have interacted with in the past 6 months has been so helpful and supportive. I also enjoy sharing the amazing products with our customers.
Least favorite so far has been limiting the amount of items we can sell due to financing. We are hoping to add more items to the store in the near future but needed to start very small in the beginning.
- From where do you draw your inspiration and decide on the products you want to offer?
I call my decorating aesthetic Coastal Farmhouse drawing inspiration from natural fabrics like jute, burlap and linen and colors in nature. I don’t think my style fits neatly into Coastal or Farmhouse, hence the hybrid name. I enjoy color palettes that include white, navy, turquoise, light blue, and teal. I like to add in some older unique furniture pieces that have character as well. Deciding on the products to sell in our store has been very fun for me. I have been mostly choosing products that fit into that aesthetic. So far, we’ve had some hits and misses and it’s been a part of the learning process for us.
- What values does your business embody?
When starting the business, I knew that it was important to feature small businesses. Small businesses are the backbone of our country and I would much rather support someone’s livelihood versus supporting a CEO’s purchase of their 5th vacation home! We feature handmade, small batch items that are not mass produced or manufactured. I find it very satisfying knowing that the items we sell aren’t things you can find at your local big box stores. Most of the businesses we support are woman owned business which is also very important to us. A few of the items we sell are made in other countries. We make sure that the businesses are practicing fair labor standards and that their artisans are making living wages.
- Is your business a full time or part time venture? Do you have plans to grow/expand?
It’s currently a part time venture that feels full time! I’m a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and a Program Director at a local non-profit as my “real job.” Running our business would not be possible if I didn’t have Adam there by my side filling in when I can’t. We do have a long-term goal of opening a Brick and Mortar store in the future—somewhere down the line. Fingers crossed!
- There are many challenges that come along with running a small business. What is your biggest challenge and what is your biggest reward or success?
Our biggest challenge to date has been shipping! Before we launched I thought our biggest challenge was going to be creating and maintaining the website because neither of us have IT backgrounds. Navigating the shipping landscape has been Adam’s domain, and it is something we are continuing to figure out since it’s a huge part of an ecommerce business like ours.
I think that our biggest reward has been connecting with new makers and growing an awesome customer base. We have had some amazingly supportive customers from day 1 and that continues to propel us forward when we are having a bad day.
- How do you spend your time when you aren’t in your store?
Well, that has changed in the past few months during our stay home advisory. I’ve been spending a lot of time tackling home renovation projects and craft projects. Typically, we both enjoy working out at the gym, taking hikes at our nearby state parks and beaches and spending time with families and friends.
- How did you discover Sea Love Candles & Company and why did you choose to offer our candles and home fragrance to your customers?
I discovered Sea Love Candles & Company on a wholesale website. Choosing candles without smelling them can be a challenge. Thankfully, the amazing descriptions and pictures that Stacy has were helpful in choosing the candles. We first chose Seaside Mimosa and Maine Pine which are both divine. Our customers are head-over-heels about Seaside Mimosa! We’ve recently added Sunshine and Sun Kissed to our store and they are getting a huge reception as well so I’m sure we will be ordering more in the very near future. The candles smell great and they remind me (and our customers) of the beach.
- What is your best-selling SLCCo item and what are your customers saying about it?
Seaside Mimosa by far! They love the energizing clean scent and don’t tire of it. It’s a scent that can be burned year round. My mom is obsessed with it!
- Where can people go to find more about your business (website, social media accounts)?
You can check out our website at www.saltandbranch.com. We are on Facebook @saltandbranchdecor. We are on Instagram @saltandbranch. We are on Pinterest @saltandbranch1. We’d love for you to follow us and share with friends if you like what you see!
- Is there anything I didn’t ask that you would like readers to know?
I’m incredibly honored to be interviewed by you, Stacy. Thank you for thinking of us! We’ve only been in business for such a short amount of time and really feel the love from others in this community. I can’t wait to come visit your candle bar in the near future and meet in person.
Thank you Melissa! We appreciate your kind words and support. We'd love to read your comments about this blog series below. If you enjoy the blog please share on social media and tag @sealovecandles!
Go check out the rest of Salt and Branch's beautiful coastal merchandise at saltandbranch.com