#LLAInterview: ”Your work, your purpose, and your passions are always attainable. It’s simply a matter of how bad you want it…” Taelor Salmon, Jamaican-American Entrepreneur, Founder of Cadence Candles Co.

Taelor Salmon was born in Wasington, D.C. and raised in Fort Washington, M.D. She studied Economics at The College of William and Mary where she played 4 years of D1 women’s lacrosse. Being raised by successful entrepreneur immigrant parents (her father is from Kingston, Jamaica), it was a seeming path for Taelor to follow along the “entrepreneur journey”. After graduating in 2014, she entered the government contracting industry where she eventually established her own Women Owned Small Business, TJS Group, specializing in selling training and administrative services to the federal agencies such as DoD, USAID, and DoC.

In 2015, she earned her real estate license and joined Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage as a dual career agent providing buying and selling services to customers interested in the D.C. market. After working in government contracting and investing in and selling real estate for a few years, in 2019 Taelor decided to create a self-care lifestyle company, Cadence Candle Co.

Cadence Candle Co. is a musically inspired scented candle company seeking to enhance the candle market through the therapies of scent and sound. Each of these handmade candles are accompanied by a carefully crafted music playlist (utilized via QR SCANS on the labels) to entice a feeling and mood. Coining the phrase “light a vibe”, her candles can be found in Shop Made in D.C., Femme Fatale Pop Ups, A Ma Maniere, and various local Pop Ups during the holiday season. Entrepreneurship has not been the easiest journey, but she finds it to be worthwhile and rewarding when she’s able to use her passions to provide a service for other people.

Taelor discusses her motivation, challenges and business lessons she has learned.

Inspiration Behind Cadence Candles Co. and the Gap It Fills in the Current Market Space

Cadence Candle Co. is a musically inspired scented candle company seeking to enhance the candle market through the therapies of scent and sound. Each of these handmade candles are accompanied by a carefully crafted music playlist (utilized via QR SCANS on the labels) to entice a feeling and mood. It was important for me to create Cadence Candles co. primarily because I wanted to give back and be of service in one way or another. More importantly, I wanted our candles to be of inspiration or guidance. Similar to the way cadence allows a piece of music to stand out, our message to people is to embrace their individuality and what makes them different. Far too often we get sucked into the masses of assimilation and fitting in, and I think it’s important to simply be unapologetically who you are. Cadence Candles Co. fills a gap of inclusive candle companies. Our candles are not just candle scents, but they’re also an inclusive activity because it’s inviting to consumers to include music that correlates with every scent.

Mistakes and Lessons Learned

I’ve made the mistake of not stocking up enough inventory and having that end up hurting shipments and orders. It’s important to be stocked well in advance. I’ve learned to always stay ahead well of stock so that I’m not always playing catch up (playing catch up is so stressful). I’ve also made the mistake of cutting margins too low to be in some stores. I’ve learned that ultimately I’m in business out of passion, but I won’t have a business if there is no profit in business. So I need to stick with my prices and margins and find the right partnerships for my brand and business. It’s okay to say no to some people, and not every partnership will be ideal for your business and brand.

Also, start with a service (it could easily be your passion), and fulfill that service to the best of your ability. When you care and focus on perfecting the service and/or product, customer loyalty increases, and your business will gradually prosper on it’s own.

Challenges

Second guessing yourself and your product. When you’re an entrepreneur you are ideally wearing every hat in your business, in the beginning. Wearing all hats will cause you to work solo often and you won’t have team members to collaborate with or feed off of. It’s important to stay mentally strong. If people are buying your product or service, you’re doing something right. Have confidence and try not to second guess yourself. I’ve encountered many myths focused around entrepreneurship being “impossible” or your goals being “unattainable”. Your work, your purpose, and your passions are always attainable. It’s simply a matter of how bad you want it and how much focus and work you’re willing to do to reach your goals.

Plans for Cadence Candles Co.

In five years, is to scale and expand. We’re in a few local stores currently, but we’re looking to grow regionally and then nationally. In 5 years I hope we will be in large department stores such as Target, Nordstroms, Bloomingdales, and Walmart. We will also be adding additional apothecary items to our line like diffuser reeds and wax melts.

Book Recommendations

You are a badass – Jenn Sincero.

Rise and Grind – Daymond John

The $100 Startup – Chris Guillebeau

Last Words

I would love to have lunch with Emily Weiss, Founder of Glossier asking her questions about practices in staying mentally confident/consistent, and the steps she took to properly scale and pitch her business. If I could advise young women or women who want to tow this same path, i’d say stay focused, believe in yourself, and trust in your judgement/decisions. If what you’re building has passion behind it then there is a purpose in it. Stay strong, and have a plan. Being an entrepreneur is never the easy route, but it’s definitely worth while in the long run.

The Leading Ladies Africa Series is a weekly interview series that focuses on women of African descent, showcases their experiences across all socio-economic sectors, highlights their personal and professional achievements and offers useful advice on how to make life more satisfying for women.

It is an off-shoot of Leading Ladies Africa; an initiative that seeks to effectively mentor and inspire women, with particular emphasis on the African continent.

Do you know any woman of African descent doing phenomenal things? Send an email to lead@leadingladiesafrica.org and we just might feature her.

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