Interview With The Founders
Discover the couple behind the Imperial Candles brand.
Back in 2014 Claudia and Alex started the company in their second year of University while studying Computer Science. They have known each other for almost 15 years now and have been high-school sweethearts ever since.
Fun facts about them: They have a cat Sapphire and an African grey parrot Mickey.
- What motivated you to start the business?
Claudia: I have always been passionate about decor, fragrance, and candles, but I never thought in a million years I would be able to build a brand around it. Since I was young, I dreamt about having my own business someday, but to be honest, I didn't expect that to happen when I was just 22. We started this almost like a game; we didn't have a clue what we were doing. We thought this was going to be a hobby that we would do alongside our studies, but we were definitely wrong.
I actually remember when I asked my mother how many jars we should order, she said 10-20, and we sold that in the first few hours. Good thing I didn't listen, and I ordered 100.
I saw that the candle market had become so stagnant, and I felt that the "fun" aspect was long gone, so I believed I could transform burning candles into a unique experience. I wanted to create something different, something that brings people excitement. That's what it's all about, the anticipation and making scent all about unforgettable memories.
-What led to the idea behind the concept, and how long did it take to make it a reality?
Alex: When I would offer Claudia a gift, she loved the teasing aspect of it so much ( sometimes more than the gift itself ). So we thought having this experience with candles would be amazing. The idea of a hidden surprise teasing you until you discover it started to run in our heads very fast and what could be more fun than a jewel?
So, we immediately acted on it, I almost can't put my finger on it, but we ordered some testing materials the same day. Looking back, I would say we were a bit crazy, but that clearly didn't stop us.
Making candles is not as easy as it looks and definitely not as easy as we initially thought. We started to test different combinations, hundreds of wicks, so many different wax types. We did an incredible amount of research before we actually got our first product.
It took 6 months to launch Imperial Candles officially, but we were astonished by the response once we did. We soon started living between boxes and packaging, spending our days and nights hand-pouring candles in our kitchen and packaging in our bedroom.
Everything was quite labor-intensive. We cut and made even the wicks, wrapped jewelry, hand-poured candles, manually labeled candles, packaged them, printed the delivery label manually, and went to the courier depot to deliver them. So, when we started doing this for hundreds, we almost didn't have any space left in the apartment, car (or all the hallways), and sleep was something we started just dreaming about.
-Where were you producing the candles?
Claudia: After 2 months, living in an apartment had become nearly impossible, so we had to move. As we were students, renting a warehouse had its challenges, so we rented a big house and started making candles from there.
We were unpacking pallets of jars and wax through the windows. The neighbor surely thought we were crazy. However, 4 more months of sleepless nights passed, and the house became too small, so we made the jump to a 3,000 sqft warehouse.
We started hiring people to help, but even so, coping with the demand, trying to put a structure in place, training people, and meetings, there weren't enough hours in the day to make everything happen. So, most nights were spent pouring candles.
It has been a very hard process of adjustment. We made mistakes, learned a lot, and had some difficult moments, but we also had a lot of fun times.
-What is the vision for the company?
Claudia: We are so happy to see how much the Imperial Candles community has grown over the years. And we are so grateful to all our customers, Ambassadors that are part of our journey and made this possible.
There have been a lot of difficult times we have been faced with running this business, and I am not going to lie. There have been times when I wondered why am I fighting against the current. But I always came back to the feeling I get when I read customer emails from whom these products have made the difference.
I want to continue to create exciting new products that customers can fall in love with and offer an unforgettable gift experience.
Although sometimes I may not be able to have all my visions made a reality, I hope that with time, we will continue to surprise our customers with unique ideas and aim to become the go-to company for the ultimate gift experience.