Hatch Tribe Hero | Kristen Schwiers - Charleston Candle Co.
Kristen Schwiers proves that age doesn't need to stop a woman from launching. Rather than wait, Schwiers created Charleston Candle Co. as she was simultaneously enrolling in graduate school. Now her company is well off the ground and you can find her hand-poured, Charleston-inspired candles in shops along the coast. In between playing with her beloved pets and running the business, Schwiers took time to talk to us about her insecurities, Instagram inspiration, and why 25 was the right age to start her own business.
What is your favorite part of being an entrepreneur?
Being an entrepreneur has been one of my biggest challenges, but has also been the most rewarding thing I have ever done. Learning to take risks and grow your own company is incredibly exciting and also gives me the chance to learn from other great business owners and leaders. Trends are always changing and evolving, so there is always something new to learn.
What ignited the spark in you to start your business?
I have always had an entrepreneurial spirit, but not always the motivation to see an idea through. Jumping in to take the risk of actually starting my own business didn’t come until I turned 25 and realized that I wanted and needed to pursue the goals that would make me happy (even if they were terrifying). I enrolled in graduate school and started Charleston Candle Co. within a few months of each other. Life has been incredibly busy since, but this process has been so much fun and absolutely rewarding.
What keeps you up at night?
Honestly, time. Charleston Candle Co. is still currently a side business for me, so I leave my day job at 5:00 pm and then start work on candles when I get home. I often worry that I won’t be able to get everything done that I know needs to happen and that the business will suffer. We’ve grown a lot over the past year since we’ve started, so it’s a never-ending challenge to stretch time and find ways to work more efficiently. Thankfully, I have an awesome husband who jumps in on things when I can’t.
What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
I don’t have one single piece of advice that stands out, but I do have parents who have always told me I could accomplish anything I wanted. They’ve always encouraged me on whatever idea or plan I’ve come up with and pushed me to keep going. Having a support system to vent to and encourage you is so incredibly important.
What sacrifices have you made to be a successful entrepreneur?
One of the most noticeable things that has disappeared since starting my business is free time. Missing after-work outings, dinner with friends, or just vegging out on the couch has become more commonplace these days, but it has also taught me how to find ways to prioritize things in my life. It’s amazing how we can adapt to an increasing workload so quickly, and while not always fun, it makes the end of a day feel more satisfying to see everything that has been accomplished.
Where do you find inspiration?
I truly find inspiration everywhere I can! Whether seeing new trends come across Instagram or Pinterest, finding new entrepreneurs and other influencers to follow, or just walking around town to see if there is a new candle scent to incorporate; I try to keep my eyes and mind open to strategies and
How do you handle fear?
Handling fear as an entrepreneur has definitely been a learning curve for me, as I tend to internalize my feelings. This obviously includes fear, which is a given when you’re stepping out on your own and presenting yourself in the form of a company. Your business is truly just a representation of yourself and it’s scary to offer yourself up to criticism or not knowing if someone won’t like your product/idea. When the fear starts to bubble up, I definitely look to other women entrepreneurs and seek their advice. I have met so many other amazing women, especially in the Charleston area, that have been so helpful in guiding me through different processes and the ins and outs of running my own business. It helps to have a support system of like-minded individuals to keep the fear from becoming too overwhelming.
What would you do with one extra hour in the day?
There are so many things that I want to do, but often only have enough time to complete the necessities. There are so many marketing and branding strategies that I’d love to develop and even some partnership and collaboration with other small businesses that would be fun to work on. With an extra hour a day, I’d love to get these ideas moving faster.
Name a women entrepreneur past or present you admire, and tell us why.
I can’t say I have one individual that comes to mind, but I absolutely do admire all of the women entrepreneurs in Charleston that I’ve met over the past year. I couldn’t believe how many inspiring and creative women we have just in the Charleston area. I love learning from them and being inspired by the different approaches each of them takes to entrepreneurship.
What lessons did you learn from your best & worst boss?
I have been really lucky to work for some amazing bosses, and they’ve actually all been women! My best (and current) boss is an amazing leader and has even become a great friend. She is amazing at recognizing others’ strengths and using those strengths to create a well-balanced and productive team. Communication is a huge factor in her being a successful team leader and I’ve always felt like I can come to her with anything, whether professional or personal which creates an awesome, open working environment. I’m thankful to say I’ve never had a bad boss, but I’ve had bosses that are less communicative than others which definitely creates a less pleasant work atmosphere.
About Kristen Schwiers
Kristen graduated from the University of South Carolina in 2013 and moved to Charleston, SC four years ago. While not a native to the lowcountry, Charleston has truly felt like home. When not making and creating candles for Charleston Candle Co., Kristen is usually enjoying time with her husband, Chaz, chocolate lab, Finn, and cat, Sullivan. Together they enjoy going to the beach, seeing the sites around Charleston, and will be welcoming their first child in January 2018!
Connect with Kristen and Charleston Candle Co.
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