Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Kayla Brown, owner of Fire Doll Studio, located in Champaign, IL, USA.

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

Fire Doll Studio is a Midwest-based independent woman-owned artisan chandlery with a passion for health, sustainability, and the art of candle making. We not only create artfully designed natural candles, but we also share the beautiful art of candle making with our community by offering space for folks to come to create a custom-scented candle of their own.

Tell us about yourself

I started this business in 2011 in response to a personal struggle with commercial candles and a lifelong battle with asthma. Commercial candles only have to be 50% soy to be advertised as soy candles, so who knows what the other half is? Typically it's paraffin wax, which is a petroleum byproduct that actually releases airway irritants and known carcinogens in the air we breathe. I decided that the way around this was to learn how to make them myself with natural materials so I knew what I was breathing in.

I fell in love with the process and decided to turn it into a business that would allow me to share that knowledge and this healthier alternative product with others. What began in 2011 as a part-time holiday market side hustle, Fire Doll Studio is now a bustling 3200 sq ft downtown chandlery offering a fun retail and studio experience for candle lovers.

Our brick-and-mortar features not only a bright and lovely storefront but also a beautiful event space we call The Dollhouse. Here we host our twice weekly Candle Happy Hour workshops that include a rich candle history lesson, an inside look at the art and science of candle making, and the opportunity to create a beautiful custom-scented candle, all while building community through the creation and scent exploration.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

My biggest accomplishment as a business owner has been watching this thing we are building grow into such a unique community gathering space where time and time again. We get to watch people walk in here as complete strangers and walk out as friends, bonding over this neat creative activity. Any way we can help to make the world just a little smaller, we consider that a huge win.

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

One of the hardest things I have found that comes with being a business owner is all of the hats we have to wear every day. I'm human resources, accounting, grounds & maintenance, environmental health, advertising, sales, production, shipping & receiving, event planning, and so on. It's a lot to juggle, and some days it feels impossible, but with each of those responsibilities come lessons that are invaluable to the growth of this company.

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

  1. A mentor of mine always says to me, "give thanks in everything, even when it's difficult." I used to find that really hard to do, but the more I force myself to practice that in my daily operations, I find that even the most difficult parts of running a business turn into inspiration, and my business is better for it every single time.
  2. Ride the wave! It will go up. It will go down. It will sometimes go WAY down, but stick with it! Even the worst days are an opportunity to learn and build and make something better.
  3. Be an aggressive seeker of inspiration! If you feel stagnant or uninspired, explore and try new things! Never stop challenging yourself to push the envelope with what your business does.

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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