Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Toni Hacker, Founder of Beacon Mercantile, located in Cherry Valley, NY, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

I'm the founder and maker of handcrafted perfumes, candles, skincare, and apothecary goods at Beacon Mercantile. I started my business out of my home studio in Beacon, NY, and recently moved to Cherry Valley, NY, with my husband Ben to be closer to family and connect with nature in a more meaningful way. I've happily seen my customer base grow over the years from mostly Hudson Valley locals to folks from across the United States (especially the West coast). They're curious, eco-minded, and looking for clean products to improve their quality of self-care and daily life. They're also incredibly supportive of my work!

Tell us about yourself

I've been making for myself (skincare) since 2005 and have always been obsessed with scent, but I kept it as a passionate hobby while I pursued my career in design. When my husband Ben and I purchased our first home and moved to Beacon in 2017, I finally had space for a studio and started making perfume blends and candles for our home and friends. The feedback was really great, and I decided to leave my career in fashion, slow down a bit, and take a leap of faith to start selling my goods to others. I'm very (very) motivated by making things for others to enjoy, and I love to tinker around. I love to make people happy!

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

When I started Beacon Mercantile, I wanted to keep it very hands-on and to really connect with my create something meaningful in a world where we are quickly losing connection and meaning in our daily lives. I feel that starting my business in my late 40s was really pivotal. I had a much more clear sense of what I wanted (and didn't want) in my business. I think my biggest accomplishment as a business owner is that I've found a really solid and positive life/work/play balance and that I'm entirely mistress of my own ship. That's a really great feeling, and I hope that people feel that when they use items that I make.

What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?

As a business owner, there's a lot of pressure to grow and expand...that's not always the best idea in my experience. Slow, controlled growth in business is healthy and so gives you time to really learn your capabilities and what's possible. When you have your own business, it's important to be honest and true with yourself as well as your customers.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

Be unique. Be yourself. Grow slow.

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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