One of the things I hope this blog can be is a space for shining light on people who are living inspiring stories and adding style to life (head nod to the blog title “Storied + Styled.”)
A friend recently introduced me to Brooke, founder of Union + Dixie candle company, and it didn’t take long for me to be inspired by her drive to start her own business and her commitment to producing a beautiful, eco- and health-friendly line of candles. She was nice enough to share some of her experiences and wisdom with me, and I’m passing along the goodness, as well as instructions for how you can score one of her beautiful candles for yourself.
First, a little bit about Union + Dixie…
Brooke is a nurse anesthetist who channeled her passion around health and created a line of candles that are something special — pure coconut wax candles that look beautiful, burn slow, burn clean, and are 100% vegan-friendly.If you’ve ever scrunched your nose when seeing all of that black smoke rising from one of your candles, Union + Dixie candles have none of that. They’re pretty to look at, fragrant but not offensive, and all-around great.
Brooke was kind enough to send me one of her candles in the Alabamboo scent (fresh bamboo blended with verbena and jungle moss), and I’m hooked. Below, Brooke shares a little bit about starting her company, facing fears, and defining success.
What were you doing before starting Union+Dixie?
I am a nurse anesthetist, which is a masters-prepared nurse that does anesthesia. I do the exact same thing as an anesthesiologist, except they went the medical school route and I have a masters in nursing. I did this before starting Union + Dixie and am still working, just not full-time anymore.
What inspired you to start your company?
New York is such an inspiring place to live. You see people living out their dreams and fighting for what they are trying to achieve on a daily basis. The city can certainly beat you down at times, but I feel like it also gives you the energy to fight harder, dig deeper, and dream bigger. After a few years in New York, I just kept having all these “entrepreneurial seizures” — ideas just kept coming to me. And the candles stuck.
Can you talk a bit about fear? Did you have any when you started out, and if so, how did you confront it?
Oh man, oh man! Absolutely. My most fearful/anxious moments when I’d say to myself “What are you doing?!”, were before I launched/during the development phase. The biggest fear I had was failure. I didn’t tell anyone I was working on creating a candle line for a very long time. I was so excited about it, and I didn’t want anyone to potentially poo poo on the idea, so I kept it close to my chest. (I didn’t even tell my mother for about a year and a half!) Once I launched it’s been really fun and enjoyable, and people have received the candles well, so it has been an encouraging time.
How do you define success?
Tons of MONEY! Haha, just kidding! I think of success in business as doing something that people connect with and that makes you proud. Doing something well and receiving joy and a sense of pride from that feels like success.
What inspires you to keep going?
I think the drive for me to never let myself be complacent, to never let myself wallow in a situation that is subpar keeps driving me forward. A good strong female idol always gives me a good push too. There are so many women doing great things. That’s always a good pick me up. Oh, and coffee. All the coffee.
Is there a philosophy or mantra that guides you as a businesswoman?
“Fight Fear.” I think women in general struggle with having our thoughts–and therefore our decisions–monopolized by fear and self-doubt. It is something I have to actively fight.
What’s some advice you’d give to someone who wants to start their own business?
If you can enter the business you are thinking about without major start-up costs, jump on in and get to it! Stop dreaming about it, romanticizing about it, and do the work to see if you really want whatever you are fantasizing about.
So here’s the good news for all of you who want to try one of these lovely candles for yourself — I’m sending one lucky reader a Union + Dixie candle in their most popular scent — Bloodies & Mimosas. To enter, leave a comment below telling me what you love most about Brooke’s story or the Union + Dixie candle collection. For an extra extra, follow me on Instagram, and tag a friend in the comments over there. Contest ends at midnight on Thursday, March 16 and is limited to people in the continental U.S. **A winner for this giveaway has been selected.**
Bonus for all readers: Use the code StoriedStyled20 to receive 20% off a candle from the Union + Dixie collection.
Photo of Brooke, her husband and American bulldog by Caleb Chancey.