Young Social Entrepreneur Sells Candles To Shine Light on Mental Illness
When I spoke to social entrepreneur Alexis Kauchick in December, the 17 year old founder of Eternal Essence Candles shared “I have sold $20,000 in candles over the past week and a half. I come home make candles and go to bed at 2am, it’s so exciting!”
Alexis is having amazing success with the non profit she created from a very personal experience. After the deaths of her older brother and a friend, both of whom had struggled with mental illness, she decided to raise awareness of mental health, raise money for The Ryan Licht Sang Bipolar Foundation, and help reduce the stigma associated with mental illness.
Through my work at Bright Girls, I’m discovering that parents play a vital role in supporting and nurturing young girlpreneurs who are driven and have the desire to make their world better. I talked with Alexis to learn more about her non profit, her mission, and the role her parents have played in her success.
Bright Girls: How did your parents react to your idea of making and selling candles?
Alexis Kauchick: I wanted to make the candles in honor of my brother and then sell them. My mother said it was a great idea, she saw it as a way for me to cope. I was down, it was a way to be busy and keep him with me.
My brother had made candles as a hobby and left a lot of candle-making supplies. At first I couldn’t’ touch what he had left. During that time the ingredients, things like dyes and essential oils which are very expensive, went bad (expired). I was able to use the pots and pans that were left, but I had to put in money to get it going. My parents said they would meet me half way. I would put in some of my money, and then they would put it in too. It wasn’t quite half way! They put in more than I did. They made me promise I would follow through, this isn’t like ice skating or some hobby you try and then just stop doing. They wanted me to commit, that I was “all in”.
Bright Girls: How did you start selling your candles?
Alexis Kauchick: I originally started selling candles in 2012. Ecommerce is recent; I launched the website in 2014. Before that I was selling at craft shows and local boutiques.
There are lots of charity and craft events in my area. The way it works is I would pay for the table at a craft fair or if it’s for a charity they would take a percentage, for example 10%.
At first the candles weren’t perfect. As I improved them, spas and salons around town started to carry them. They would sell two or three scents, which are a very small part of the collection; I offer about 20 scents in the line.
Bright Girls: Why go online?
Alexis Kauchick: The problem is that the craft shows take a cut. The more you make, the more they deduct. I found it tough to give money to another charity when we are a charity. We want to be focused on our cause.
Another advantage is that ecommerce allows me to sell from home. It saves the time and hassle of packing up and moving the candles. Plus we can offer all the scents.
Bright Girls: What are the three things you’d say your parents did that were most helpful in getting Eternal Essence to become a real thing.
Alexis Kauchick :
- Everything that they do, their overall support. If they didn’t help me from the beginning I wouldn’t have had the passion to follow this through.
- Their help, when I’m at school my mom answers the phone. She drops everything to help me. She is 100% supportive. My mom makes as many candles as I do. At first, I’d say to her that she wasn’t doing it right, then I learned to let go, especially as she got better.
- We don’t have a food pantry anymore, it’s all candles. Our house is a factory. My dad loves our house and I’ve taken over and yet he’s totally OK with it. In fact Dad puts the charms on the candles. Our lifestyle is around candles.
Bright Girls: I love the charms around each candle. Can you explain how you came up with the idea to do the charms?
Alexis Kauchick : On every candle there is the type of charm you’d get on a charm bracelet. It adds a design element. Each scent has a themed charm, for example our Cookie Jar scent has a cookie jar charm, the Summer Scent has a bicycle charm and Gardenia has a flower.
I see that the kids I used to babysit for make them into charm bracelets.
Bright Girls: College is around the corner, what happens with the Eternal Essence when you head off to college?
Alexis Kauchick: I want to continue to pursue this. I want to learn more about business and entrepreneurialism in college so I can get ideas on how to expand it. My mother has said she’ll continue to support me and the business when I go to college.
Alexis is a girlpreneur for good™ who is changing the world for the better through business and she’s just getting started!
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