Igniting a candle business
Sitting at her cubicle at her desk job, Tiana Coats daydreamed about leaving her 9-to-5 for a more creative adventure. She loved candles and, although she had never done it before, started whipping them up on the side.
“In 2016, I quit my job to pursue Winding Wicks Candles full-time,” Tiana says. “I did pop-up shops and put any money I made back into the business.”
While Winding Wicks maintained some momentum, Tiana took a hiatus to focus on her family before starting the business back up again in 2018 with a new dessert-style design. And this time, she turned to YouTube for help.
“I learned about search and marketing on YouTube. I remember looking up ‘how to learn SEO.’ I didn’t have extra money to invest, and YouTube was my goldmine,” Tiana explains. “I found helpful videos on things like: ‘how to identify your target audience’ and ‘how to get people to view your videos.’”
She started her own YouTube channel demoing the process behind her unique candles before switching up her content to focus on helping other small business owners learn from her experiences. “When I shifted from ‘how to make a candle’ to ‘how to start a candle business,’ I wasn’t getting as many views per video, but I immediately built a stronger connection with my audience. They were hitting subscribe!” Tiana says. “This led to more opportunities and more subscribers.”
Tiana also recognizes not all metrics are created equal. “At the end of the day, it’s not about views,” she says. “It’s about maintaining my authenticity and building trust with my audience.”
One of Tiana's dessert-style candles
Today, Tiana has amassed nearly 40K subscribers on YouTube and is the face leading a six-figure candle business.
“I wish people knew how hard it was behind the scenes!” she says. “I am picky about my editorial calendar so it can take me 10 days to put out a video. You don’t need a lot to start out, but over time you’ll need to learn the software, get quality equipment like microphones, and more. I would never know how much work goes into it if I didn’t do it.”
During the pandemic, while many small business owners began to rethink strategy, Tiana leaned into her online following and launched Candle Biz Academy, an online course on starting your own online candle business.
I’m going to be the Willy Wonka of candles.”
“I did my own market research and learned through YouTube there were so many people wanting to start a candle business,” Tiana says. “So even though candle sales declined, online learning picked up and the business did really well.”
At first, Tiana was worried about giving away tips about her niche. “But I figured if I taught others, everyone has their own style and there is room for everyone,” she says. A believer in community over competition, Tiana found her authenticity and willingness to share solidified the trust with her audience she had built over the years. “I always keep my audience in mind,” Tiana says, “and I want to do the best I can to be there for them.”
Winding Wicks today can be found on Etsy, Amazon, and later this month, at Tiana’s new storefront in Ferris, Texas.
“I’m going to be the Willy Wonka of candles,” she says.