Name: Travis Troyer
Business: Basik Candle Co
Travis Troyer had spent 10 years working in the corporate world, but he wanted to be in control of his own future - and his own business. After signing up for a variety of creative classes at a local studio, Travis fell in love with the process of making coconut wax candles. Very shortly thereafter, he launched his own company offering luxury candles at an affordable price.
What’s the story behind your business?
I worked in accounting and IT for about 10 years doing software implementation. While I was successful in my job, I was frustrated by my experiences in large corporations. For example, I’d get excited about projects that could potentially save the company a lot of money, make a process significantly more efficient, improve employee satisfaction etc, only to have it killed or get lost in a steering committee. It was so frustrating.
When I moved to a new city to be with my partner, I realised it was a good time to explore new options. I come from a family of entrepreneurs, and I knew I wanted to start my own business. I took some classes, and during a candle-making workshop, the instructor shared her story about starting her own business. It inspired me. I spent about 9 months in product development before releasing my products to the world.
What separates your candles from others?
I always assumed the more expensive candles would have better, more natural ingredients. However, I discovered even the “best” brands use paraffin wax, fragrance oils with phthalates and lead-core wicks. I wouldn’t want these sorts of ingredients in any candle in my home! I knew I could make a candle with better ingredients and sell it for a lower price. Our coconut wax candles are environmentally friendly, with 100% cotton wicks and skin-safe, phthalate-free fragrances.
My customers often tell me they’d pay twice as much as I charge for candles, but I love making products that are affordable for a wider audience. My margins are healthy, and I’m able to make a profit. I’m proud to create candles that people can buy over and over without worrying about their credit card bill.
What’s growth been like for you?
We sell directly to consumers on our website, and we’re also in 50 or so retail stores across the country. I much prefer to sell my candles in small boutiques rather than high street stores, because I like developing personal relationships with the retailers who sell the candles. I’ve taken a “curated” approach to sales because I don’t want my products to be something you can find anywhere and everywhere.
We participate in a lot of local artisanal markets too. After our first, Basik Candle Co blew up overnight! At that point, I realised I needed to scale up immediately. I went from having a couple of small melting pots to ordering a commercial melter. I also hired my first employees, and we moved into a commercial space.
What does a typical day look like for you?
My business has grown substantially since I started, and I still work a lot of hours. I believe in delivering the highest quality product possible, so I stay as close as I can to our production process. I spend 80% of my time doing production, and the rest managing orders, connecting with retailers and other administrative tasks.
I’m very busy, which makes it tough to find time to do any paperwork. That’s actually why I love QuickBooks - all my accounting is handled automatically. I only have to spend a few hours taking care of it each month.
What are you most proud of?
One of the things that led me to start my own business was feeling tired of all the red tape and inefficiencies in the corporate world. Now, I’m proud to be able to make intelligent, creative, flexible decisions quickly and be open to every idea. I also want Basik Candle Co to feel like a family. I want to pay people a living wage and treat them with dignity so they feel valued and respected. That’s huge to me.
One more thing: I love sharing information and ideas with other business owners. At the artisanal markets, bouncing ideas off of other “makers” has been one of my biggest resources. When people ask me where I got my packaging or my labels, I’m always thrilled to pass along that information. It doesn’t hurt me to help someone else. It feels like a small way I can give back.
What advice would you give small business owners starting out?
I encourage small business owners to think quality over quantity when they’re developing new ideas. Rather than trying to sell a lot of things, start by doing one thing extremely well. In my case, I'm planning on launching diffusers, hand soap and a number of other products. But I won’t start selling those items until my candles are as good as they can be.
The other piece of advice is to trust your instinct. You should always listen to what other people have to say, but at the end of the day, you have to trust your gut.
Before you go, have you made the step to become self-employed? How do you feel? Get involved and comment below!
I hope you're well and the sun is shining wherever you are :smileyvery-happy:
You told me a little about your business and it sounds awesome. Now you're running your own business, how do you feel? Is there anything you find particularly challenging compared to your previous job? Please share! :)
I really enjoy the freedom that running my own business has brought and that my own hard work is for myself and my family, however as I am the only Director at present that does make it an issue during holiday times. For the last three years I have only been able to take a few days off rather than my previous 25 days per year.