On Our Minds
On Our Minds

Entrepreneur Paige Graham on Growth, Seasonality & the Best Merchant Tools

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Paige’s Candle Co. is a homegoods merchant based in New York City and a small business collaborator for us on custom gifts.

We caught up again with founder Paige Graham on how her business is evolving, her favorite tools, and plans for growth. (Catch up on our previous interview if you missed it.)

Enigma Blog (EB): What’s your biggest small business lesson from the past year?

Paige Graham (PG): We’re learning how to be more conservative with major purchases.

During 2020, the market was all over the place, and I didn't know when I would have specific items available. One time, we had a shortage of our best-selling jar size for about four months. So in 2021 I focused on building up inventory exponentially. And for 2022, I’ve been making sure I'm more conservative and not basing my numbers off of panic buying.

But COVID effects are ongoing, so I’ve just been watching my terms with suppliers and trying to be fair for my consumers pricing-wise — and practicing patience.

EB: What are your sales channels? Is there a seasonality for homegoods?

PG: We sell across a few different channels. We do in-person sales at craft markets and trade shows. We sell and ship to customers online through our website. We do brand partnerships. Wholesale is another aspect, where we ship to various locations that resell the product.

In general, the fall and winter seasons are the best time for in-person markets. Brand partnerships spike during the fourth and first quarters, sometimes into second quarter. For wholesale, peak times are early spring and late summer.

EB: What does the next stage of growing your business look like?

PG: My philosophy is to find a niche and blow it up. I get a lot of questions about how to start and operate a candle business. We’re really excited about a new direction coming early 2023: we’ll be launching digital programs to teach people how to start and run a successful candle-making business.

On the retail side, one of my main initiatives for expansion is building more brand partnerships. I love working with larger companies and creating custom candles for larger brands — it’s a lot of fun. I’m also looking to expand Paige’s Candle Co. via online and in-store reseller partnerships.

EB: Where are you investing for growth?

PG: We've invested about 20% more in digital marketing this year, like Facebook ads, Google ads and Instagram promotions. It’s been very fruitful. We’re seeing a great return on investment, so we plan to continue.

EB: What kinds of tools have been valuable for the ecommerce side of your business? How do you determine which vendors you work with?

PG: On the accounting side, I hear QuickBooks can be a bit challenging for some, but it's been amazing for me. I also have payment processing through QuickBooks. Having everything in one place is key for me — and especially for my accountant when tax season approaches.

And then I absolutely love Shopify as my main ecommerce website. There are wonderful marketing tools that are integrated within the platform. For example, I use MailChimp for my newsletter and it’s integrated seamlessly.

As far as finding platforms and tools that will help my business, I do extensive research to see what is best for me. I appreciate free trials for specific programs so I can get a feel of whether or not a tool is a good fit for us.

EB: What’s something you think people get wrong about entrepreneurship?

PG: Hands down, I feel the vast majority of people overlook the patience required. We live in a culture where everyone is used to immediate gratification. When we look on our phones, we have one-minute videos. When we want to buy something, we can get it in a day. Building a business does not work that way. A lot of people expect to form a business and receive amazing results within three months. And you definitely can, but that's more of an outlier. The reality is, it takes a lot of patience. Building a successful business takes time.

Through our data, Enigma is proud to help financial institutions find successful small businesses, like Paige’s Candle Co., and connect them to the capital they need to grow and thrive.

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