By Cathy and George Sotello Jr.
From Candle lovers to Candle Makers:
We’re Cathy and George Sotello, owners of Avy Blue. On every occasion, we were given candles as a gift. One day, George and I looked at our candle collection and suggested, “we might as well make our own.” After researching the candle-making process and ingredients, we decided to try it.
From A Hobby to A Business:
We always wanted to start a business, but we weren’t sure which type. In the beginning, we just made candles for personal use. As we got more into candle making, we found ourselves experimenting with wax types, wicks, fragrances, and temperature levels. It took a while to find the right formula.
Then, we started giving out our soy candles to family and friends to test. After receiving positive feedback, we knew this would be a business. September 2020 is when we officially became a business. We chose the name Avy Blue because blue is our favorite color and we live near an Avenue.
There’s More to A Candle Business Than Making Them:
Candles take up a lot of room, and you need a dedicated space like a garage, basement, or workshop to stock them and keep everything organized. Another thing we learned is that testing is an ongoing process and very necessary. We test vessels and scents to ensure candle quality and safety for consumers.
Now Sold At Markets and In Stores:
At first, we were anxious about how customers would view our products. It’s exciting to have our candles sold in a few local stores in Chicago. Being sold in stores results from the work, time, energy, and money put into the business. So far, we’ve received good reviews and repeat purchases from our customers. Because we make our candles in small batches, we keep various candles in stores and restock them as needed.
The Avy Blue Online Community:
Building an online community takes time, and a lot of work goes into it, but it’s very satisfying in the long run. Slowly but surely, we started to gain followers. There are plenty of outdoor markets here in Chicago between April and October where you can sell your goods. What I like most about selling at markets is to educate our customers on candle care and safety. It’s a chance to meet people and invite them to follow us on social media or join the mailing list. Word of mouth has also contributed to the growth of our online community. The feedback we receive from customers reminds us of our why and makes us work harder in serving them.
Five Years From Now
We would like to have a physical storefront where minority business owners can sell their products. In addition, we plan to expand our product line. Our dream is for Avy Blue to become a global brand.
Working Together Through Challenges
In business, there are always challenges to overcome. George and I both have good listening and communication skills. When situations come, we talk things out instead of having arguments, which has helped us personally and professionally. Plus, we both have the same ambitions and goals and know where we want to be.
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