Jessica Kuesel

Jessica Kuesel

Owner of Janie Rd

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I’ve always been obsessed with candles. I thought “what better way to support my own candle addiction than to make them myself?” So I found another crafty hobby to dip my toes into.

Jessica Kuesel is up.

Who are you and what do you do?

My name is Jessica Kuesel and I am the owner of Janie Rd. Candle Company. I create hand-poured, natural soy wax candles with unique and nostalgic scents. I am mostly a one-woman-show: manufacturing, design, marketing, sales, all the things. Also made possible, in part, by my helpful husband, who assists with set up at vendor markets. As well as my mom, who is not exactly on payroll, but helps with labeling and scent testing.

Janie Rd. Candle Company’s name comes from sentimental family property, dating back almost a hundred years. The same road where I once got off the school bus in kindergarten, I now reside with my amazing husband, two dogs, five goats, and twenty three chickens. I wanted to pay homage to an extremely sentimental namesake that was a huge part of my childhood, even into adulthood.

We cook dinner in the same place my great-grandmother prepared meals for over eighty years. I pour all of my candles in the same kitchen that has hosted every family Thanksgiving, Christmas, and birthday I’ve ever known. To live here is a joy. To carry on the namesake, an honor. I wanted to tie in the namesake to the branding: a touch of traditional, with updated, cohesive marketing and packaging.

What did it take/how did you get started?

I’ve always been obsessed with candles. I thought “what better way to support my own candle addiction than to make them myself?” So I found another crafty hobby to dip my toes into. I started Janie Road candle Company like many serial entrepreneurs. I turned a hobby into a business, mostly to fund said hobby.

I initially started by repurposing vintage glassware, such as bowls or wine glasses, into candles. I loved the creativity this allowed me to express, but I knew if I wanted to scale anytime soon, I would have to create a more cohesive vessel.

Thus, the gold tins were born. In the very beginning, I wasn’t the most precise with the science behind candlemaking. I was initially just making them for myself, and family and friends. It was more about the appearance and scent in the vessel, and less about the functionality. It is a pretty straightforward process, but even the slightest variation in percent of fragrance oil or incorrect wick sizing carries a huge risk.

Learning the ins and outs of wick sizing, hot throw, cold throw, and fragrance load, was a challenge initially. There was far more involved, scientifically, than I would’ve ever imagined. I feel like I’ve finally perfect all of my ratios, offering high quality products with a great burn time and amazing scent.

What does the future look like for you and your business?

I plan to continue to do this only as a side-hustle. I love my full time job as a Director of Operations, but candle-making allows for a more creative outlet. The majority of my sales and traffic comes from vendor/pop-up markets, which are conveniently on weekends.

What drives / motivates you on a daily basis?

I love meeting people and showcasing a brand with products I’ve spend years curating. I love to see the look on peoples faces when one of my candles evokes nostalgia. I enjoy knowing my products are purchased to be given as gifts for others to enjoy. I even love meeting other vendors at market! Every aspect of the "people" part of the business excites me, and drives me to continue making.

What advice would you give someone interested in doing what you do?

First: Research, research, RESEARCH! Candle-making is a hobby that many “crafty” people get into, not always realizing the implications of incorrect measurements, fire safety, and the science behind it all. Secondly: Don’t be afraid to just go for it. Make a brand of your own that you can truly be proud of. You never know what you’re capable of until you try.

What has been the hardest part of your business journey?

Systemizing my processes, without a doubt. When I started off, it was just for fun, in my leisure time. When I started doing markets, the first few I actually sold out of my entire stock. Realizing I had multiple markets coming up in just a couple weeks, I knew that I had to create a better system for processing inventory, producing back-stock for upcoming markets, and simplifying the point of sales system.

Being more left brained, the design, marketing, and making side of everything came much easier to me. However creating systems around inventory and the manufacturing process took a little bit more effort. Coincidentally, it is actually now my favorite part of the process. I love finding ways to increase efficiency, while upholding the same quality of product and standards.

How have you managed burnout thus far?

Between balancing this side-hustle with a forty hour/week (plus some) full time job, there is a high risk of burnout. By doing vendor markets, I am able to have at least 3-4weeks, if not months to prepare for a high volume of sales at one time. I’m constantly tracking what sells the best (and least!) to ensure my inventory is curated for each market specifically.

This also gives me a chance to plan my schedule out for making the candles themselves. On most Sunday afternoons and weeknight evenings, you can bet my house will smell like freshly brewed coffee, grapefruit mint, amber musk, or any combination thereof. I typically batch-pour products to increase efficiency.

What are a few resources that you'd recommend?

Candle Science has great videos for beginners all the way to advanced formulation and techniques. They're not just there to sell you products, but truly listen to customers needs and recommend the best product for your needs. Also I’m in a Facebook group (Candle Makers Resource Group) where other candle business owners and makers share knowledge and get answers to questions.


List the founders

Jessica Kuesel

How many hours a week do you work on this hustle?

10-20, depending on the season. More around Q4, headed into the holidays.

# of Employees?

1, myself. (3 if you count my two pups that insist on “helping”)

When did you start?

Around March 2022

How much did it cost to launch?

A few hundred bucks to start. Once I got more serious about the process, I started buying more in bulk to cut down on the cost per unit, which was around a thousand dollars in up front costs.

What were your funding methods and ballpark amount raised?

Since I started off as a hobby, I used my “fun money” for the initial amounts. Then used profits from initial sales to invest in better equipment, purchasing in bulk as I went, and updating fragrance lines with the seasons.

Annual revenue?

Not provided.

Projected revenue?

Not provided.

What's the #1 thing you need right now?

A few more hours in a day (only sort of kidding) Connections for wholesale retailers would also be great! (ie, locally owned boutiques, coffee shops, etc)

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Jessica Kuesel

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