Finding balance between entrepreneurship and family is challenge that many are familiar with. Lisa Thurston faced that challenge head on when she realized her direct sales business was pulling her in too many directions at all hours of the day and night. She made the decision to shut it down and open By The Sound Candles.
The transition was not seamless but the work she had done in personal development prepared her for the challenges ahead. She learned a lot along the way and has graciously agreed to share her wisdom, insight and business tips with all of us.
Tell us about yourself.
I am a stay at home mom/wife and have been married to the love of my life and high school sweetheart for almost 10 years. We have two very energetic boys, two fur-babies and a flock of chickens we call our kids. We got tired of the “city” life and relocated our family to an island in the Puget Sound, where we have lived for the past 5 years. (Part of where our business name comes from.)
I have an unhealthy addiction to caffeine and cookie dough, am the type of person who doesn’t know how to sit still and has to be busy with something at all times. In the summer you can find me at the lake, not working and soaking up all the sunshine with my kids. I enjoy volunteering at my boys school and 100% love being a boy-mom with all that entails.
How did you get into your business?
Before By the Sound Candles I was with a direct sales company for a couple of years that ended up taking too much of my time, as weird as that sounds. I always felt I was in constant competition with the other consultants in the company and always needed to be there for my team. I felt that I needed to answer any and all questions any time of day or night – no matter what was going on. This started to cause issues with my family and one day my boys asked me “Mom, when are you going to put your phone down?” This hit me hard, so hard that I quit what I was doing the next day.
I took the next couple of months to just be a Mom and seriously think about what I wanted to do. I knew I didn’t want another direct sales position and I didn’t want to get a 9-5 job and not be at home anymore, but I needed something to do – something I had 100% control of. After about a month of real in-depth research on different products and possible avenues, I presented my husband with my business plan. He thought I was nuts, but I went ahead and opened our company anyways… which brings us to where we are now.
What has been your biggest challenge?
My biggest challenge so far has been my suppliers for different components of the candle. Never in my wildest dreams did I think there would be a “glass-shortage” right after I launched my business. I went almost a month without any jars to fill and turn into candles. I wasn’t willing to change what I had started with because I had already created a brand or look for myself that people recognized. Part of the challenge was that I also strive to make sure 100% of our products are USA sourced. So that added a component into the challenge but I made do with what little stock I had on hand and rolled with the punches until I could get more. Now I keep a hefty backup supply just in case.
What do you wish you’d known when you started?
When I started, I wish I had known all the little tips and tricks for lighting the candle. I had never heard of wood wicks before I discovered them in my business research, so they were relatively new to me. Of course I tested my candles before launching them, but I never seemed to have a problem lighting them like some of my customers did, which ultimately I think lost me some repeat customers right out of the gate. Since then all the kinks have been worked out and every candle gets sent with a how-to, but in the beginning I had no idea this would be a problem.
If you could narrow your success down to one thing, what would it be?
I think my success has a lot to do with my willingness to put myself out there into the world, think outside the box and being willing to learn. While launching my business I read “Girl Wash Your Face” by Rachel Hollis, which I think plays a very large role in my success. It was very motivational to me to just get the job done, to learn what needed to be learned, to do what needed to be done, and to not care what others thought while doing it.
Where do you see yourself in a year?
In one year I see myself in stores and homes from coast to coast. I want to branch out of the Pacific Northwest and be known across the USA
What are your top 3 tips for women starting a business?
- Do the research, all the research. If it pertains to what you are doing or want to do, do research on it and learn everything about it.
- Follow your gut. If there is a will, there is a way.
- Think outside the box, put in the effort and time. Not all great things happen over night and don’t expect your friends and family to launch your business.
What is a typical day like for you?
My day starts way before the sun comes up. I try to get up about 4 am so I can get some caffeine in my system and get a little workout in before the boys wake up. My typical day depends greatly on what is going on and what day of the week it is. But a “normal” day consists of me getting my kids ready and off to school then me returning home to work on whatever needs to get done that day; package orders, return emails, running to the post office, stay at home mom duties, etc.
I will work/run errands until its time to get the kids from school and then it’s their time after that, we make dinner and then settle down for the night. But if its candle pouring day I will get that going immediately and will pour for a good 9-10 hours that day, I just love it!
What is your business motto or quote you live by?
Our business motto is to be able to give back. I didn’t want to create a company that only benefited my family. I wanted to be able to help others with it as well.
So I did some charity research and went with a company called Tree’s for the Future, this charity was perfect in my eyes. Tree’s for the Future helps families in need throughout the world create a sustainable source of food and income by planting and creating forest gardens. I thought this was a great charity because it not only created sustainability for families, but it offered a way for us to replant tree’s since we use wood for our wicks.
If you were starting your business over again, what would you do differently?
If I was starting over I wouldn’t underestimate anything. I wouldn’t go into it with the “what if” attitude, I would have the “when” attitude and be better prepared for anything that might happen.