We were so excited to be featured by the Erie Times News. Pam Parker, did a wonderful job with the article. Please read the article below to learn more about Candle Box and how Scent came to be!
By: Pam Park of Erie Times News
Meet three female entrepreneurs with Erie County ties who are pumping up natural scents this season with a new perfume subscription service and homemade candles and soaps.
Scents are big business for three women who are savoring the smell of success.
Kristen Dumbeck, a Harborcreek Township native, started her own subscription perfume business in November. The 28-year-old now lives in San Francisco and launched a new seasonal fragrance line called Love, Sylvie after working in finance in Philadelphia.
Leah Show, 29, grew up in Uniontown, Pennsylvania, and started to make her own candles as a hobby when she started her career in Pittsburgh after college. She turned it into a business called Candle Box Company in 2015 when she moved to Erie. Her wholesale business landed her candles in former Bon Ton stores and other retailers.
Janice Fatica, 60, owner of the Pink Cottage since 2012, created her own homemade soaps for fun, after having careers in interior design and massage therapy and raising a family. This year she and Show teamed up to open Scent in the Shops at the Colony.
These three women are hoping to capitalize on a big market for scents this month as consumers buy gifts for friends and family. While they have similar hopes, they had very different paths to business ownership.
Perfume is an accessory
Dumbeck, the class valedictorian at Harbor Creek High School in 2009, went away to school at Susquehanna University and lived in Philadelphia for five years working for a private equity firm that invested in everything from huge companies to small startups.
“I was so inspired by startups, particularly female startups, that I knew creating a brand would be my next move,” she said.
She met numerous entrepreneurs and enrolled at Wharton to get her MBA. That’s where she met her husband Ricard Vila. She decided on a subscription perfume company when she started research on how women choose perfumes and their preferences. She honed in on the fact that most women tire of a perfume because a big bottle is a commitment — an expensive commitment that women might buy once a year. But what if they didn’t have to?
“Perfume is like your wardrobe. You should be able to change it,” Dumbeck said. “You have jeans for different occasions. Why wear the same scent all the time?”
She decided to test seasonal concepts for scents and partnered with a woman in Los Angeles who was the “nose behind some really good brands.”
Dunbeck recently launched Love, Sylvie. What does it all mean? Sylvie means “from the forest,” and she felt it represented her brand and it’s natural ingredients. The current perfumes are Yule, a pine and frankincense scent; Noe, a vanilla and Mediterranean blood orange scent; and Adair, a blend of berries and jasmine.
What’s next? “Rose will be one of our scents for spring. It’s really popular among younger people right now,” she said.
The subscription is $40 every three months, but there are a lot of promotions right now.
Recipe for soap success
Fatica started her Pink Cottage business after she retired from massage therapy. Making soaps, scrubs, lotions, bath bombs, butters and other skin products with some popular scents that include pumpkin, lemon, cocoa, lavender and other aromas combines the careers Fatica has had.
The proud Strong Vincent High School graduate said she has an art institute degree and worked in interior design in Houston, Texas, and then married, had four kids and a mosaic business in addition to her massage therapy career.
Goat milk is her go-to ingredient. “Goat milk matches the PH of our skin better than other products and it’s so good for you, but if you’re vegan, I also have a coconut milk soap,” she said. How did she happen on goat’s milk? “I researched all of this. It’s such a science to make soap — right down to the gram. I love the milk soap. Cleopatra used to bathe in it, and if it’s good enough for her, it’s good enough for me,” she said.
When Fatica started making soap, she loved it. “I had a house full of it,” she said. “I can make about four batches a day and you get about 44 bars per batch,” she said. The soap recipes are most precise, and she makes dozens of different types of products including olive oil soap bars.
What’s the most popular? “Bare beach — anything in that fragrance sells. I nailed it with that one,” she said.
The name for her shop was Pink Cottage “because I live in a pink cottage,” she said. And there’s the cottage industry connection, as well.
In August, Fatica and Show combined forces and decided they could work better together and opened Scent in the Shops at the Colony. “We make our own products, so it works out for both of us,” she said.
Light up a new career
Show studied fashion merchandising at West Virginia University and went to work for Express and Cache in Pittsburgh. “I started making candles as a hobby because I wasn’t happy with other candles,” she said. “I wanted a strong scent but not all the chemicals.”
Show kept some of her homemade candles and gave the others away as gifts to friends, who encouraged her to sell them. She started selling them at events in Pittsburgh and realized she could make a go of it as an entrepreneur.
Her parents had moved to Erie about 10 years ago, and when Show decided to set up a business as an entrepreneur, she moved to Erie as well. “It’s really welcoming for entrepreneurs,” she said. She set up a wholesale and retail business called the Candle Box Co., in which Show hand-poured candles that are made of soy.
Three years later, she’s doing it the same way. Today, she estimates that she pours 500 to 700 candles a week — to keep up with holiday demand. Does she have a favorite? “The best seller is firewood, and it’s my favorite. It smells like a bonfire,” she said.
Show also said her wine collection scents are popular and the wine scents come in reusable wine glasses.
How did Scent come to be? Show met Fatica at a 2016 beach glass festival in Erie when they each had booths. “We had heard about each other,” Show said.
Eventually, the entrepreneurs realized they could combine forces in one space in August. “This is so perfect for us. It’s really a great fit,” Show said.
With only three months working onsite together at Scent, Show and Fatica said results have been impressive by any measure. Scent cleaned up on the most recent Black Friday and Small Business Saturday. “It was exciting,” Fatica said. “Every year, it gets bigger and bigger for me personally. I doubled what I did last year, and I know Leah had the same results.
“People are really rooting for us,” Fatica said.
For Dumbeck, this is her first holiday season as an entrepreneur, and she’s looking forward to a lot of orders. “We’re new, and there’s a lot of excitement on social media,” she said.
Pam Parker is the editor of House to Home, Her Times and Lake Erie LifeStyle. She can be reached at 870-1821. Send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on twitter.com/HerTimesErie.