A Bittersweet Day!

Yesterday was a bittersweet day. If you’re a long-time reader you know last summer I started an online candle shop where I sold my hand-crafted soy candles. Yesterday I officially closed the online doors to Lilypad Candles.

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Lilypad Candles was never meant to be a long-term business. I started it last summer because I wanted to gain professional experience in the e-commerce space. I work for a marketing agency and it’s in my best interest to be as well-rounded as possible in all verticals. Most of my experience is in B2B but I really wanted to learn B2C (because it sounded more fun… and it is!).

I figured there was no better way to gain a ton of experience in a short period of time than to build my own e-commerce business from the ground up. Putting skin in the game (aka my own money) I knew that I would pay careful attention to my campaigns because I would need to at least break even on my investment.

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I ended up doing better than breaking even, I made a small (very small) profit. However, the experiment is now over.

I feel like I gained a ton of knowledge not just in e-commerce marketing but also in all aspects of running a small business with a physical product. Before I started the business I expected the hardest part to be production, but really scaling production was quite easy. The hard part was dealing with logistics as a one-person business.

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A few months ago I put together a Day In the Life post and I realized just how much time I was spending on the candle business. It was around this time that I started feeling a sigh of tiredness rather than a shot of excitement when i would check on how many new orders I needed to fulfill each day. It was at this time that I realized it was time to start scaling the business back, so that’s what I’ve been doing.

soy candles

I’m so grateful for all of the customers I got to interact with, especially the really wonderful repeat customers. Though I closed the doors on the online shop, I do feel the experiment was a big success. I now feel confident in not just the theory of e-commerce marketing but also the execution.

What I’m really excited about? When I get home from work I don’t have to worry about making candles anymore! This leaves me with lots of extra time for running, thinking about running, planning new running routes, etc. You get the point : )

I do still have some candle making supplies left, so I imagine my family and friends will be getting candles for Christmas this year, haha.

Though I’ve fulfilled my last candle order, I’m not one to ever be content (which is both a blessing and a curse). I’ve already got another idea in the works and this time it’s one that I’m pretty passionate about. I was never really passionate about candles. I LOVE burning candles a lot, but truthfully making them was kind of boring… especially when I was making many of them at one time and I had an assembly line running through my kitchen!

It’s time for me to move onward, but I have no regrets about the time I spent making candles and learning e-com.

I truly believe that if you want to learn something, the best way to tackle the process is head on. Whether that’s learning to run a 5K or marathon, learning something work-related or learning something fun, there’s nothing quite like jumping in head first and dealing with the consequences. It’ll be hard sometimes but that’s where the real learning takes place.

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That’s what I keep telling myself on speedwork days!

If you could start any type of business, what kind would you want to start?

Do you like to jump head-first into things, or do you take a more careful approach?

27 comments

  1. Amy

    I still have my Lillipad candle in the bathroom and think of you each time I light it and take a bath 🙂 Good for you for knowing what you want, going after it, accomplishing it, and also knowing when it is time to shut down operations before you start to resent it too much. I am impressed with your initiative and I love the candle, too!
    Amy recently posted…Pickling and FermentationMy Profile

    1. Kristina @ Blog About Running

      Awesome! I’m so glad that you’re still burning it and like it! 🙂
      Kristina @ Blog About Running recently posted…A Bittersweet Day!My Profile

  2. Kim

    I wondered about your candles since you haven’t mentioned them in awhile.
    Glad that you feel good about your decision to shut down the business – always good to know when to walk away and the fact that you were on the plus side is huge!!! I’m so impressed with your initiative and drive.

    Not to sound like a total idiot but what is B2B and B2C?
    Kim recently posted…My Wake-Up CallMy Profile

    1. Kristina @ Blog About Running

      Thanks, Kim! I always need a little project to work on. Most days I just hate sitting around with nothing to do (although sometimes that’s really nice, haha).

      B2B is business to business and B2C is business to consumer. You have a B2C business because you sell directly to the consumer. The marketing agency I work for is B2B because we sell our services directly to other businesses.

  3. Dannii @ Hungry Healthy Happy

    I didn’t know that you made candles 🙂
    I would love to open up my own healthy cafe.

    1. Kristina @ Blog About Running

      You would be a great healthy cafe owner! I can picture all of your yummy meals on the menu!

  4. Desiree @ RunSmiling

    I definitely take a more careful approach – I’m a finance/accounting nerd so I have a problem with analysis paralysis! I can’t wait to hear about your next idea!
    Desiree @ RunSmiling recently posted…Weekly Training Report 8/18 – 8/24 & meet my husbandMy Profile

    1. Kristina @ Blog About Running

      Thanks, Desiree I can’t wait to share it! It’s not running related so I’m not sure how many people who read here are going to be interested though, haha.

  5. Maureen

    You are my hero with this! I’ve always wanted to have my own business. I’ve dabbled in cake pops and cupcakes but neither quite stuck. Can’t wait to hear about your next project!
    Maureen recently posted…Winner!!! Spartan Race GiveawayMy Profile

    1. Kristina @ Blog About Running

      Oh that’s so fun! I thought about doing cupcakes at one point as well, but the laws on food production and sales were too complicated for me, haha. I’d love to see pictures of your cupcakes!

  6. Megan @ Meg Go Run

    You are an inspiration, Kristina! I couldn’t start an e-business if I tried. I am not good at making things as I am not very creative when it comes to producing a tangible sort of product. All my little “side hustles” are more service oriented- like piano lessons and training. I didn’t have to invest much money in starting my private piano business (besides a music degree haha) but for training I DID have to invest a lot of money and I am pretty sure it is going to take me 6-12 months to recoup those costs (since it is only a side job.) That is okay, though. It is something I can do as long as I enjoy it and the big investment was right in the beginning.
    Megan @ Meg Go Run recently posted…10k Training – 1st Tempo Run!My Profile

    1. Kristina @ Blog About Running

      I think if it’s something you enjoy and it takes YEARS to recoup the costs then it’s worth it!

      Service oriented businesses are definitely the way to go in most cases I think, for first-time business owners especially. My first business was a marketing consultancy. After grad school I was feeling so burned out from going to school full time and working full time, so I took the contacts I had from work and started my own little business. It was a great experience, and I think I’d like to go back to that again someday. But for now it’s nice having a 401K that my employer matches and paid vacation days haha

      1. Megan @ Meg Go Run

        LOL exactly. I could never quit teaching and just do personal training. I NEED MY HEALTH INSURANCE!!!!!! Like, if I didn’t have the health insurance I have now, we’d be bankrupt 2 times over at this point.
        Megan @ Meg Go Run recently posted…3 Things That Are Plaguing MeMy Profile

  7. Lou @ Running Through China

    You are definitely an inspiration Kristina! Congratulations on your ‘experiment’ (I had no idea – I figured that you loved making and enjoying candles lol…) – you not only met your goal, you smashed it! And you know you have the experience and the confidence to do anything hey, particularly your next venture. I am so excited to find out what it is!
    Hmm, if I could do any business it would be some sort of personal travel reviewer where someone hires em to go and check out a place/hotel/city for them and review it and get back to them. Does this exist???
    I tend to jump into things without fully thinking them through or doing a lot of planning/research and I guess that’s why my businesses in the past have both flopped, lol (one was a mobile spray tanning business and the other was an online nutrition consultancy).
    I really admire your courage and ability to run your own one-person business successfully! And yay, now you’ll have heaps more time for running or anything you want to do!!! 🙂

    1. Kristina @ Blog About Running

      I did really enjoy making the candles at first. The whole process of mixing scents and coming up with new ones was really fun. The less fun part was running a production line in my kitchen where I was melting wax and pouring candles until 2am before having to get up for work the next day. Candle making is really simple, but it’s not easy! There is lots of time where you’re just waiting for the wax to melt (or to cool) and you can’t do anything else because everything mostly happens in 15 minute intervals.

      I think travel reviews would be a fabulous job! You could try to get a job at a travel magazine or a travel website!! It probably wouldn’t pay a lot, but I bet all of your accommodations would be comped!

  8. Tina@GottaRunNow

    What a great way to get some experience as an entrepreneur! It sounds like something you can build on later.
    Tina@GottaRunNow recently posted…10 Year Running AnniversaryMy Profile

    1. Kristina @ Blog About Running

      Absolutely! I caught the entrepreneurial bug from my dad 🙂

  9. Jennifer

    Funny – I was just thinking about your candles the other day – I remember that was one of the first things I read/learned about you when I started reading this year. Onward to new adventures! I would love to come up with my own business… just need to brainstorm. Do you watch Shark Tank?
    Jennifer recently posted…Turkish/Georgian Vacation Recap – Part 4My Profile

    1. Kristina @ Blog About Running

      I surprisingly do not watch Shark Tank! I bet I would really like it, but I just don’t watch a whole lot of TV. Mark Cuban is definitely an interesting guy though!

  10. The running Schlub

    That is a fantastic way to gain a lot of experience. I look forward to seeing your next venture, especially of your more passionate about this idea.

    If I could start a business it would be a site dedicated to running race reviews. Then I could travel to races all over the work to experience them ad review them. That would be amazing lol.
    The running Schlub recently posted…Are You Down for a Great Cause??My Profile

    1. Kristina @ Blog About Running

      Haha that would be a great business! Every time I go on the iRunFar website I wish I had come up with that idea, haha.

  11. cheryl

    I really admire your initiative and drive! I can’t wait to see as the next opportunity develops.
    I take a slow, careful approach to everything except jumping into cold water.
    My business…hmmm. Maybe a local race director?
    cheryl recently posted…Life happens…My Profile

    1. Kristina @ Blog About Running

      You would be an excellent race director! That’s something I would LOVE to do someday too!

  12. Heather @ GirlGoesRunning

    Those candles are awesome! I had no idea you were so crafty! I do understand your thoughts on closing it down though. You probably feel quite a bit relieved that you don’t have to stress about it any more? Like a weight being lifted. 🙂 They are pretty snazzy!
    Heather @ GirlGoesRunning recently posted…Training Tuesday!My Profile

    1. Kristina @ Blog About Running

      Yes, you hit the nail on the head! There were a lot of fun and exciting aspects to running the candle business, but in the end fulfilling a bunch of orders each day became very daunting. I’m glad for the experience though!

  13. Ali @ Hit the Ground Running

    I’m glad you had fun and got something great out of Lily Pad. It takes a wise woman to know when it’s time to say goodbye, and you clearly feel good about the decision!
    Ali @ Hit the Ground Running recently posted…Highs and LowsMy Profile

  14. karen

    I admire your initiative and motivation for sure. I can’t imagine trying anything myself, I am not creative at all.
    karen recently posted…I Blinked and a Month Went ByMy Profile

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