Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in candle-making but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Michelle Lawrence, Founder of Sainted Writers, located in Cincinnati, OH, USA.

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

Sainted Writers has offered "prayer" candles for writers, designed and hand-poured by a writer, since 2014. My clients have included everyone from literature lovers to those in publishing to the writers themselves, such as Margaret Atwood, Robert Olen Butler, Aimee Bender, and countless others.

Tell us about yourself

My business was started just for fun while working on my Creative Writing MFA thesis. Amused by the pop-culture candles popular at the time, I wanted to make something similar, yet with my own passion: writing fiction and honoring the writers that inspired me to be a part of the literary world. As word got out, friends of friends asked for candles for their own favorite writers, and I heard from fellow student writers who wanted candles for their own literary mentors.

Little did I know that Sainted Writers candles would soon be traveling around the world or that I would be in contact with so many wonderful readers, novelists, short story writers, poets, and academics. Not only does it encourage my own writing, but it makes my "day job" as a creative writing professor easier because my clients introduce me to new and upcoming writers that I can share with my students!

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

The support I get from the writers themselves is such a point of pride. Neil Gaiman sending out tweets, Sherman Alexie referring to me as his own "saint," and getting to work with one of my fiction writing idols, Aimee Bender, have kept stars in my eyes all these years. But the friendships I've made through this business are even better, such as with the phenomenal New York-based poet and activist Mae Jackson. I have met such good people through this business and am so lucky to have done so.

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

One of the toughest things about having a business is that it can be 24/7, especially during the winter holidays. Because I also teach full-time, true vacations can be difficult to come by, but it's worth it to make so many people happy with the perfect gift.

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

  1. Embrace your nerdery--your passion can and will match with others' passions!
  2. Find your niche; if there's a ton of competition, you'll need to stand out as different.
  3. Keep healthy boundaries. Sometimes a sale isn't worth your family, health, or moral needs, and that's okay!

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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