Meet Mia of Isabis Candles. Isabis Candles are hand poured soy candles infused with natural oils and fragrances. Isabis’s motto is simply beautiful candles that empower and inspire. Each splendidly crafted candle comes with an empowering and inspirational message etched on the glass. I spoke with Mia recently about turning a hobby into a business, her inspiration and what being a young Black female entrepreneur means to her. See our interview below.
When did you decide to turn your hobby/passion into a business?
I have always loved candles and I knew I wanted to own my own business one day. After standing in line at Bath and Body Works loading up on candles, I made the decision to make and sell my own candles. I went home, did some research, talked it over with friends, did some testing and then just launched. Didn’t know what I was doing and I was so scared but nothing beats a failure but a try.
Are you working full time as a candle maker? If so, what pushed you to pursue entrepreneurship full time? If not, how are you balancing your career and your business?
I wish my business was my full time. At the moment, my business is my part time, which I hope to make it my full time sooner than later. Because I have a full time career, time management is my best friend. Between my business, my full time and my social life, things can get a little hectic. I schedule things a month or two in advance (even my social life lol) and I leave room for last minute items. I take full advantage of my calendar and stick to a strict schedule. Sundays are typically the days I sit down and map out my goals for the week.
Your candles come with positive affirmative messages for women, particularly Black women. Why is it important to you to include empowering messages on your candles?
Malcolm X couldn’t have said it any better, “the most disrespected woman in America, is the black woman. The most unprotected person in America is the black woman. The most neglected person in America is the black woman” and I honestly believe this. In today’s day and age, we see black women empowerment expressed through various forms such as t-shirts, pins and hats. I wanted to tap in a market you don’t see our skin color celebrated, which is through high-quality candles. Everyone buys candles, whether as a gift or even for your personal use. It was important for me to make something that not only smells good but makes you feel good.
Have you received any backlash or negative comments from other groups about your specificity in affirming Black women?
I remind myself all the time, don’t try to make a product for everybody, because that is a product for nobody. I have not received backlash or negative comments but I have received advice from people of color to broaden my affirmation to all women not just women of color. That has given me confirmation as to why celebrating black women is important and necessary.
I see that you have recently expanded the products you offer and that 100% of the proceeds go to needy families. What inspired you to give back in this way?
I am blessed beyond words. I am not rich but I am living comfortably. There are plenty of people who are not. Because of this, every year I make it a mission to give back to the less fortunate. This year I wanted to incorporate my business and expand my products so I figured doing both would be the perfect opportunity. So from now until October 31st, when Isabis merchandise is purchased, 100% of the proceeds will go to families in need.
Who are your SHEros?
Kandi Burruss and Issa Rae are my SHEros.
Kandi Burruss is one of two reasons why I started my business. She is such an influential player in the business world. She created such a large brand which consists of singing and performing, acting in a movie, opening a restaurant, running her clothing boutique, launching a children’s product line, and promoting her collection of sex toys all while being a mother! Her non stop hustle has always given me motivation.
Issa Rae is another SHEro of mine. She did an interview in cosmopolitan a couple months ago and she is quoted saying “I prioritize making dark skinned women desirable. You don’t see a lot of dark skinned representation. That’s been overlooked. Also, seeing them as beautiful, in addition to desirable, which are two very different things.” I have been a fan of hers since The Awkward Black Girl series. What I love about her is her vocal love for the black community especially those of us who feel overlooked. Representation matters and she gets that.
What advice do you have for other women looking to transform passions/hobbies into entrepreneurship?
Just go for it! You don’t have to know everything and have everything in order. I don’t even have packaging for my candles yet but I still did it. I just put my faith in God and just went for it. You will learn along the way. I’m still learning myself. Once you understand that what is meant for you will be, everything will fall into place.
Black women are the fastest growing group of entrepreneurs. It’s no secret that we hold everything and everybody down in our lives and we do it well. Often times, it’s to the detriment of taking care of our own needs. With all that you do, what do you do for self-care?
You might find this odd for a business owner but I am such an introvert. When my life becomes too much, you will find me at the movies on Sunday morning or curled up on the couch watching a movie. Movies are an outlet for me. For an hour or so, I get to live someone else’s life. Another thing I do for self care is have conversations with myself. You know how Issa Rae has a pep talk with herself in the mirror in her HBO show Insecure. That is so me! I will take a few minutes to just to be with my thoughts and talk to myself.
Check out Mia’s candles and other merchandise on her site https://www.isabisllc.com/