Kindling success with candle company
Christina Lee Tomkiewicz, the owner of the Cloverdilly Candle Company, was inspired to start making candles herself after wondering about the source of the black soot that accumulated on her store-bought candles.
She found out that the soot was the result of various additives, and, already having some experience with soap-making, decided to try her hand at making candles back in the winter of 2018.
After some trial and error, she was hooked, and knew that she wanted to begin selling her work. She committed to perfecting her products over the course of a year before starting to sell candles at craft fairs.
All of Tomkiewicz’s candles are made with 100 percent soy wax, cotton wicks, and no additives. Because the candles are phthalate and paraben free, they have a “nice, clean burn,” Tomkiewicz said.
Tomkiewicz had hoped to get her work in one or two stores within a year, but at her first fair, she was asked to stock her work at a store in Rhode Island. Within a month, her candles were in four stores.
Now, Cloverdilly Candle Company is stocked at 18 stores across Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Maine.
Tomkiewicz credits her success in large part to the interactions she had with customers at craft fairs. From them, she learned about scents people wanted, gauged the interest in wax melts and tea lights and was inspired to try her hand at making room sprays.
“That’s pretty much how I grew my business: I listened to people,” Tomkiewicz said.
At the beginning of 2020, Tomkiewicz decided to quit her job to pursue her business full-time.
“If I didn’t quit my other job and pour all my heart into my business, I’d never succeed to where I wanted to be,” Tomkiewicz said.
She rented an office at 219 Main Street, and was set for a busy year of craft fairs when the pandemic hit, cancelling all her shows for the year.
“My in-person selling was great, but my presence online was non-existent,” Tomkiewicz said.
So she pivoted as quickly as she could: getting her work in more stores and growing her online presence through flash sales on Facebook.
“It is what it is, and you have to adjust to what is given to you,” Tomkiewicz said. “I couldn’t let myself fail.”
Now, Tomkiewicz is focusing on keeping up with the demand while continuing to expand her product line with new scents and vessels.
She has about 60 scents available, and tries out new scents about once a week.
All the candles come in vessels that can be reused, and most are made to order. Because her candles are made with soy wax, Tomkiewicz said that it's easy to clean wax remnants out from the end of a candle. Many customers reuse the vessels as planters for small succulents and other petite plants.
“I think the best part of working for myself is I make the rules. It’s a lot of freedom,” Tomkiewicz said.
Locally, Cloverdilly Candles are available at Echo Elizabeth and Company Home Offerings, 5 Elm St.; Heidi’s Boutique and Consignments, 251 Main St.; Onset Bay Association, 196 Onset Ave.; and Seaker’s, 11 Main St., Buzzards Bay.
Orders can also be made online at www.cloverdillycandle.com. For more information, or to set up an appointment to shop at Cloverdilly’s 219 Main St. office, go to facebook.com/cloverdillycandlecompany/.