Katerina and Victoria of Lohn official
Running a business

Meet LOHN: A scented candle brand that champions women in STEM

What happens when you combine two chemical engineering degrees, a disenchantment with the corporate world, and a deep passion for fragrance? You get Katerina Juskey and Victoria Mierzwa, the co-founders of a unique brand of candles called LOHN.

The birth of LOHN

LOHN was created in 2018 in response to a simple observation — candles available at the time were offering only one-note scents and lacklustre packaging. Katerina and Victoria envisioned developing a product that defied convention — a multilayered, sensory experience that transcended the ordinary and exuded vibrancy, elegance, and depth.

Drawing on their previous experience in the beauty industry, they introduced an elevated product to the market. LOHN candles are hand-poured in Toronto, offering relaxing phthalate-free scents, colourful recyclable packaging, and sustainable coconut soy wax. They’re made uniquely by women who work in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields.

Weathering the storm

LOHN's journey has not been without hurdles. Navigating the tumultuous waters of the COVID-19 pandemic, the entrepreneurial duo had to pivot their strategy from wholesale business to direct-to-consumer sales and virtual perfume workshops.

“Throughout the pandemic, we would hand deliver orders and be present on social media to show our community the real behind-the-scenes of our small business,” says Katerina. “We spent our early years building a business in an unprecedented economic situation, and still managed to grow our sales each year.”

To mitigate the escalating costs of raw materials, labour, and ingredients, the co-founders have explored alternative suppliers and implemented strategic pricing adjustments as they continue building their business.

Evolving with purpose

At the core of LOHN's ethos lies a commitment to continuous improvement. From their humble beginnings filling orders in Victoria’s parents’ basement to seeing their candles on the shelves of Anthropologie and Holt Renfrew, Katerina and Victoria remain focused on excellence while keeping their grassroots feel.

“Owning our manufacturing and distribution sets us apart from other home fragrance brands. We take pride in the quality and speedy service we offer our customers, and this is largely due to our vertical integration,” says Katerina. “Having complete control over every aspect of our business allows us to maintain high standards and deliver exceptional experiences to our customers.

“For example, if a retailer has an urgent product request for next-day delivery, we can likely make it happen. We also include a handwritten note-card with every single online order!”

Community: the heartbeat of LOHN

For Katerina and Victoria, their community is the driving force behind their journey. Guided by a commitment to support women in STEM, they have championed numerous charitable initiatives and provided invaluable learning opportunities for future entrepreneurs.

“Since 2020, we have hired more than 14 women who have joined our production, marketing, and shipping teams,” says Katerina. “Along with creating high-quality, sustainable products, it’s also our goal to provide valuable, real learning experiences that can inspire the future generation of entrepreneurs.”

To date, LOHN has donated over $50,000 in funds and products to charities such as Rethink Breast Cancer, Nellie’s Shelter, and The Shoebox Project.

Leaning into the discomfort

To aspiring entrepreneurs embarking on their own journey, Katerina and Victoria offer simple yet profound advice: prioritize your mental health, cultivate a strong support system, and lean into the discomfort.

After all, Startup Snapshot research reveals that 72% of founders grapple with mental health issues, with 37% facing anxiety and 36% experiencing burn-out.

“While the journey is rewarding, it truly takes a village,” says Katerina. “As women in business, imposter syndrome can sometimes hold us back, especially when reaching out for help, taking on speaking engagements or similar events. We've made a conscious effort to confront this fear head-on by embracing challenging opportunities and pushing ourselves to step out of our comfort zones. It's all about leaning into the discomfort and proving to ourselves that we're capable of achieving more than we think.”

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Prioritize your mental health, cultivate a strong support system, and lean into the discomfort.
Katerina & Victoria. LOHN

Charting the course with QuickBooks

In their quest for operational efficiency, Katerina and Victoria turned to QuickBooks to streamline their accounting processes. Thanks to having financial clarity at their fingertips, they feel empowered to forge ahead with confidence.

“We integrated our accounting system to QuickBooks in 2020 and haven’t looked back,” says Katerina. “It seamlessly integrates with all our accounting platforms, from Shopify to Wise, allowing us to effortlessly consolidate our financial data. With its help, we can easily monitor budgets, inventory, and accounts receivable/payable, and track our overall business progress.”

The road ahead

Katerina and Victoria have big plans for 2024, including wholesale expansion into the United States as well as several innovative new product launches. Reflecting on what it means to have an enduring legacy as a business, Katerina urges entrepreneurs to shift their focus beyond themselves or their product to a mission that has a broader impact on the world.

“Think about the long-term implications for sustainability and how your actions can contribute to positive change on a global scale,” she says.

“By consistently aligning your vision with these broader goals, you can create a lasting impact and inspire others to join you in making a difference.”

How QuickBooks Canada can help your business

Looking for tips to start, run, or grow your business? Whether you need help with payroll or time tracking — or insights into the latest trends — look to QuickBooks Online to guide you through your entrepreneurship journey.


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