Young entrepreneur finds success in coastal candle-making business
Keira Brown, 11, ended fifth grade this year as an entrepreneur, selling organic soy wax candles made in the kitchen at her Galveston Island home.
“She makes me buy them from her if I want to burn one,” said Elizabeth Brown, Keira’s mother.
Her mother’s love of candles was Keira’s initial inspiration to learn the craft, she said. A year before, in anticipation of the annual Evia Spring Market in her West End neighborhood, the then fourth-grader made 39 throw pillows from vintage fabric she found at her great-grandmother’s house and sold them for $10 a piece at the market.
“We completely sold out,” Keira said. “My mom taught me how to sew and I really liked it.”
She wanted to sell something handmade again at the 2020 market and decided on candles. Her mother agreed to pay for the initial supplies Keira would need with the understanding that her daughter would pay her back from profits.
“In our family, when the kids want something special or expensive, we work with them to earn the money themselves,” Elizabeth said.
Keira’s extracurricular first love is online gaming, and the profits from her candle-making business have allowed her to purchase a new gaming console.
The plan was to sell all of Keira’s candles at the Evia Spring Market, but the event was canceled because of health precautions around COVID-19. A switch to online marketing and sales, however, led Brown to make more candles than she’d originally planned and to a profit of $2,000 from her candle business, Keira’s Cottage.
She also has paid her mother back in full.
“I knew that my mom bought a lot of candles,” Keira said.
Keira knew nothing about making candles, except that they were made of wax and a wick, but she studied candle making online and settled on using organic soy wax for its stability and pourability, she said.
“Pretty much the only way to mess it up is to not get the temperature right,” Keira said. “Pouring can be hard — you have to be careful not to over pour or it covers the wick and is unusable. Other than that, you have to pay attention to the temperature when you’re pouring and adding the scent.”
Brown chose to use wooden wicks, based on her research, and uses a variety of scents from lavender and lemon to sage, citrus, rosemary and mint, all ordered from a candle supply store.
She started with small batches but quickly learned that bigger batches were easier once the double-boiler and hot plate were set up and the supplies on hand.
So far, she has sold 176 candles and has about 125 in stock.
Some burn for 45 hours, some 50 and others up to 100 hours, depending on the size of the candle.
The Keira’s Cottage label — designed by the Browns from a template they found online — along with the vintage glass containers Keira chooses and the scents all combine to create a sophisticated product with a vintage feel, Keira’s chosen style.
“We poured one batch in vintage sherbet dishes,” Keira said. “I found them online and I had to search, but I found a lot of them.”
It only took about 30 to 40 sales for Keira to pay her mom back and her profits beyond that have enabled her to grow the line and the business, something she plans to continue doing, she said.
“I was pretty disappointed that the market was canceled, but then that’s what brought us online, so actually, yeah, I think it was a good choice,” she said.
And though her school, Austin Elementary School, was closed after spring break, Keira Brown found that studying at home, at her own pace, suited her well and gave her time to pursue creative avenues.
“I’m getting into drawing now,” she said. “I just bought myself a drawing tablet that’s fun to use for digital art.”