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Ryemarkable Debbie Smith

Name: Debbie Smith

Name of Business: From the Heart Candles LLC

Length of time in business: 1.5 months

Number of kids and ages: 1 son who is 21

Pets: 1 cat named Smudge and 1 fish named Crowley (HUGE SUPERNATURAL FAN)!!!

Before starting this business, what was your career? To answer this question as simply as possible, I was in the Administrative Support career path - worked for Top level management as an Executive Assistant in CT, NY, NJ, and NYC from companies that were start ups all the way up to Fortune 500 companies.

What is your business? We are a small home based candle company in Rye, located in the house my great grandparents built when they migrated from Italy in the late 1800's. It is actually the 3rd business that has been run from this house. The first was my great grandfather's barber shop/great grandma's general store. After the depression in a way to get the family out of debt my great grandmother started a bleach business called The White Lily (we named a candle in her honor as well as all of my ancestors that helped with the business) and my grandmother helped with deliveries and bookkeeping, so I guess being a female entrepreneur is in my genes. Our company, From The Heart Candles LLC hand pours each and every one of our scented/unscented soy based candles in various sizes. All of our products are natural, non GMO and not tested on animals.

Why did you start your business? After suffering a stroke, John, my husband, and I, along with close family and friends, were looking for ways to help with both physical and occupational therapy he could do at home. The doctors recommended John learn to make candles as part of his physical therapy. He did, and what started out as a hobby and therapy grew into what is now From The Heart Candles LLC.

In addition to that, as we are all separated from the ones we love and care about and the distance we all feel not being able to be with them due to the current pandemic, I wanted to do something that would be a good way to make people feel less alone and to also to be a “light” in a world that for some can feel very dark at times.

As my immediate family, including myself suffer with depression/anxiety in addition to some folks close to me also have had suicidal thoughts and attempts, as well as a few dear friends, I wanted to try and find a way to be a "light" for them. I found a poem on facebook - the owner gave me her permission to use it - her facebook page is Audrey Loves Paris:

"As the world fights to figure everything out, I'll be holding doors for strangers, letting people cut in front of me in traffic, saying good morning, keeping babies entertained in grocery store lines, stopping to talk to someone who is loney, being patient with sales clerks, smiling at a passerby. Why? Because I will not stand idly by and live in a world where love is invisible. Join me in showing kindness, understanding and judging less. Be kind to a stranger, give grace to friends who are having a bad day, be forgiving of yourself - today and every day. BE the change, BE the light, start today and never stop!"

What do you love most about what you do now? I love seeing the look on customers' faces when they smell the candle, when they tell me how it made them feel and how down to earth both my husband and I are as business owners and how we are willing to take suggestions and ideas from our customers on how to improve our product/business.

What did you have to do to start? We spoke with a few friends that own their own business and decided to become an LLC first and then we had to figure out how to make the candles. This was great occupational therapy for my husband as candle making is not easy at all. It has a lot of math and science involved. We tried several different types of wicks and scents and containers and once we were satisfied with our initial product we organized a focus group of about 20 close friends and family to test the candles and get their feedback which was very helpful as they gave both great feedback as other ways that we could change/improve things.

What was the biggest challenge you’ve faced? Creating our website

How did you overcome that challenge? As I have never done web development by myself, I watched a lot of youtube videos and with a lot of trial and error I got it up, running and not to toot my own horn, but am very happy with how it turned out and now I know why web designers get paid the money they do. It is not easy!! :)

What is the thing that has surprised you? I used to consider myself introverted, despite what others in my family/friends had told me in the past, but knowing that our candles can bring a smile to the face of someone, brighten their day, make them feel less alone, it gives me pleasure to speak about our company to complete strangers.

What is your best tip for fellow entrepreneurs? Don't give up and do your research. Make sure if you decide to become an LLC, Corporation or Partnership go with a reputable business as you will get slammed from scams just looking to make a buck. Also, as I have been told, it takes a great deal of patience especially your first year so stay positive and keep moving forward!!!

How has the virus impacted your business? As we basically sell our products on-line for right now, it really has not, however, we would LOVE to be able to go to outdoor flea markets and such should those start back up again.

What are some alternative careers you would have liked to have? When I was younger, I wanted to manage Rock Bands, then as I got older, would have loved to work with animals, also teacher or therapist.

Other fun details about you: favorite books, Netflix, fun facts, or other: My all time favorite book and movie is The Outsiders, now that I have totally dated myself. I am a HUGE Metalhead, love the old stuff from the 80's as well as a lot of the newer bands now a days. I also LOVE the shows Supernatural, Community, All the Chicago shows (Med, PD and Fire), The Masked Singer. I love to sing and play rock band on my WII as well as sitting out by the fire pit at night with my husband.

Do you have advice regarding reinventing yourself? My advice is don't let other's opinions and comments make you doubt yourself. You are always going to have "haters" as the current generation says, don't let them stop you or rain on your parade! You be the best you can be, and I am more than happy to help other female moms who are looking to reinvent themselves in business anyway I can.

What do you think is important for other moms to know? My advice to other moms, don't let anyone stop you from doing what you know in your heart and soul you can do!!!


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