Episode 132 // Maker Boss with Nicole Bisby

July 11, 2017

Candlemaker, Nicole Bisby, shares the importance of starting small and growing slowly as a maker business to stay profitable, out of debt, and be true to your ideals. We’re talking about getting wholesale clients, white labeling your product, and hiring employees + setting up your business to be a successful business owner while being a mother.

Learn More about the Topics Discussed in this Episode
This Episode Brought to You By:
"You can't win them all, and that's okay. Learn when to be persistent and know when to move on."
- Nicole Bisby

Discussed in this Episode

  • Nicole's path to becoming a candlemaker
  • Starting small as a maker business
  • Nicole's creative process
  • Maker failures
  • Honing your craft as a maker
  • Finding wholesale clients (Why creatives need LinkedIn)
  • Hiring employees to take over during maternity leave
  • Balancing motherhood with building an empire
  • White labeling your product

Resources

More from Nicole Bisby

More from Kathleen

Braid Creative

More from Emily

Almanac Supply Co.

Transcript

Kathleen Shannon 0:02
Hello, and welcome to being boss,

Emily Thompson 0:05
a podcast for creative entrepreneurs. I'm Emily Thompson.

Kathleen Shannon 0:08
And I'm Kathleen Shannon.

Nicole Bisby 0:10
I'm Nicole Bisbee and I'm being boss.

Emily Thompson 0:17
Today we're talking about the journey of a maker business and being boss with a baby with Nicole Bisbee. As always, you can find all the tools, books and links we referenced on the show notes at WWW dot being boss club.

Kathleen Shannon 0:30
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Emily Thompson 1:21
Oklahoma native Nicole Bisbee founder of shop is B has always had a love of international travels and artisan goods Bisbee candles a humble start happened unintentionally Nicole's handpoured candles which started as a hobby started to catch the eye of friends and local businesses with a focus on natural ingredients exotic fragrances and minimalist packaging and 5% back to nonprofits. The side hustle landed in Whole Foods OKC the BSB brand has grown to include artisan goods Nicole and her family curate during their summers in Morocco. Leading the way were custom designed leather bags and vintage rugs always learning and growing. And Nicole is consistently pushing the hobby turned to company to new heights.

Kathleen Shannon 2:06
Nicole, we're so excited to have you on the show. Thanks for joining us.

Nicole Bisby 2:10
Thanks for having me.

Kathleen Shannon 2:12
And I might call you busy here in there because that's what I call you in my head. So we're friends IRL, we don't see each other often, but we know each other. And anytime I run across your candles in westone, Whole Foods, all the places I'm just on the internet so proud and excited for you. And I'm so excited to bring you on the show to talk about your story as a maker, making candles, who has defeated all the odds of everyone telling you that you can't have a business doing this. So let's start by talking about your path to becoming an entrepreneur. Because whenever I first met you, you were working a day job a really cool day job. But a day job nonetheless. So tell us about that.

Nicole Bisby 2:54
Yes. So I i've I started just doing it for fun. I never thought I'd be an entrepreneur. It was never on my radar to have my own business. And I was just working a day job and wanted something fun to give for Christmas presents. And so I traveled a lot. I've always traveled a ton. And I was thinking how cool would it be if I could give my family and my friends a Christmas present that smelled like Italy or smelled like you know some really cool place I traveled to I had just gotten back from living in South America and ROI. And so I thought man, I would love to give a candle that smelled like the ocean. And you know Montevideo and so that's kind of how it started. And I ruined like the first 25 I made it was awful. My kitchen was a wreck. There was just wax everywhere. I remember thinking the landlord is gonna keep all my deposit. I'm never gonna get anything back. It's ruined.

Kathleen Shannon 3:54
We were you like, I should have just bought them some candles totally. And I

Nicole Bisby 3:57
and my dad was like, are you going to catch it on fire? And I'm like, Well, technically, they're gonna burn but hopefully in in the glass. And you know, and it's funny because, you know, I people always think that it takes this large amount of skill to make candles. It doesn't I mean, you can, I mean, anybody can do it. And that's kind of what I loved about it as I love to just play around with it. Of course getting them to burn evenly and making awesome product is a whole nother side to it. But I just wanted something fun as gifts. And so then I gave them all away, family and friends. And then the next year I started getting questions and like September like Hey, are you gonna make those candles again? Are you Are we getting those candles again? And everybody kept asking for them and I and I was like, Oh, you you burned them? You didn't just like throw it away. I like assumed in my head. Everyone said, Oh, how sweet and just kind of like threw in the trash. You know, like some old banana bread. Like, thanks, Marianne. We don't need this and they tell us So anyway, so I started getting requests and and so I was like, okay, people are liking this. And

Kathleen Shannon 5:10
I remember requests like, Hey, can you make me a candle again for Christmas? Or was it Hey, can you make me some candles, I can gift to my friends.

Nicole Bisby 5:19
It started. So at the time, I was managing a Fitness Studio, when I first started playing around, and my awesome boss at the time. I don't know, can I give shout outs to the business? Or the business owners? I don't know. I don't know, bar three, okay. See, and Andrea Mason, she placed the first order for her friends. And that was really the first time that I ever had anybody bike, you know, an order from me or place an order to give away and I remember just thinking like, this is cool, you know, and, and the whole time. So the whole time I was instagramming. So I am a huge proponent of social media and personal branding. I followed you Kathleen for a long time. And I've learned your tricks of the trade and, and you've got to put yourself out there and let people know what you're doing. And I was just doing it for fun. Just Hey, I made this Isn't it cool. And, and so after I sent off, I think the order was for like 12 maybe. And I thought it was the coolest thing on earth, I was making candles, you know, I was at the time, I think I was even like spray painting the bottoms gold or something in my apartment with no windows open.

Kathleen Shannon 6:34
All sorts of smells going on in your apartment. And what I want our listeners to really grab on to are those very first sales because I will never forget mine. Some of my very first clients even smell my very first blog followers, Emily included, have been lifelong friends. And it just takes one person buying your thing. Test one to start an entire business. So don't ever take it for granted. The idea of starting small and and hang on to that enthusiasm of that first bye for as long as you can.

Nicole Bisby 7:09
Yes. Well, and, and you know. So after that started, then I got a new job. And I started, you know, getting kind of busy. And I remember thinking, you know, I'm just going to take handles off for a while. But then the orders kept coming. Because then the friends that she'd given it to they wanted them and and so I was like, Okay, I guess I need a website. And so I started Googling how to make a website. I had no money at the time. I mean, I was just, I, I was buying, I think like $50 a product at a time because that's all I could afford. And then I would you know, turn around and sell it. And I was like, how much can I sell this for? And I remember just asking friends, like, how much would you pay for this? Just so I could make a profit and keep buying boxes of wax. And so, you know, eventually I got to where I could order bigger quantities, but it really did it started with three people and one of those was my dad and it was amazing. And, and it it really Instagram was so much fun with that, because everybody would see it and like it and it didn't have to be some beautifully curated professional photograph. And that's what I I like to share with people that come to me and say, Oh, you know, you've built this you know, Candle Company, how did you do it? You know, how did you afford it? And I'm like, I spent no money. It was Instagram. And I just was taking pictures in my dirty kitchen of wax and candles and having fun.

Emily Thompson 8:33
I love that and but at some point like hanging out on Instagram and making candles like small batches at a time which is total hipster thing like batch candles for life. Um, at what point though, did you decide to make this side hustle or like this sort of creative free for all and see what happens into an actual full time gig? Yeah.

Nicole Bisby 8:57
Okay, so are you guys planning a Flight of the Conchords? Do you remember

Kathleen Shannon 9:00
that Chad? Jemaine hates me? It gives me feelings. And I'm pointing to my crotch right now. I am so hot for Jemaine

Nicole Bisby 9:12
I love I have it on DVD if you need to borrow it. Oh

Kathleen Shannon 9:16
my gosh, I had a part time model in my handle.

Nicole Bisby 9:22
Okay, so Okay, that is my reference, Kathleen. That is hilarious. Sorry if I'm screaming. So I haven't written here because I didn't want to forget to mention this. So again, I was working full time and I was also teaching fitness classes. So I was working full time and I had a part time job. And I was making candles and I kept thinking of the song Jermaine sings. Girl you're so sexy. You could be a part time model, but don't quit your day job. Okay, if you don't know it, go to Google and Google this song. It's amazing.

Kathleen Shannon 9:58
Anytime Emily and I have a photo. Shoot for being boss, or I'll model for shop good sometimes just Yeah,

Emily Thompson 10:05
I know, if Kathleen's just looking in the mirror, right?

Kathleen Shannon 10:10
That song goes through my head all the time. And I feel like no one ever gets the job done. Right, tell them a model.

Nicole Bisby 10:17
I have played, I'm so glad we could connect on this, I have that. That's my favorite. And I think of that a lot with starting small businesses. And that is what I always thought of is, you know, be a part time model. You don't want to be a full time model. You got to

Kathleen Shannon 10:32
play your time model.

Nicole Bisby 10:33
Can I? Now I am now and and i also, you know, so the transition, as you ask Emily, getting back to answering that quick Flight of the Conchords break there. It really happened. Because I was transitioning from a job, actually, the job that I had was it was being sold, the business is being sold. So it was either find a new job, or see if I could make it as a professional full time. candlemaker. And my husband is nuts and supported the idea. That's fine. I mean, a wonderful. And, and so I have to say that to that if it would have just been, you know, like me living on my own, I could not have done it. And I think that that's something that I always like to share with people that, you know, I'm not independently wealthy, and it's not making tons of money. So definitely, it was really nice to be able to have a spouse that could make sure that you know, every month we had lights on and

Kathleen Shannon 11:38
but also so I know your husband, Muhammad, and he was one of my professors in college. So he's a professor, it's not like, I mean, obviously, I don't know if there's some sort of situation. But I think that, you know, it's probably a pretty typical income, where you're probably still feeling a little nervous about making that leap.

Nicole Bisby 12:00
Right? And really nervous.

Kathleen Shannon 12:02
And you weren't like, Okay, well, I'm just gonna kind of be a stay at home wife slash mom and try and make this work. Well, you had goals to make money is what I'm trying to get out.

Nicole Bisby 12:11
Yeah, definitely. And, and, and I've been I should also mention that I've been profitable since day one. And yeah, I mean, it's, it's, it's something that I am proud of, but I've also been debt free. And so I loved the podcast you all did about money, and you know, tracking and budgeting. My husband has a budget, like a spreadsheet, and he is obsessive about it. And I knew if I was going to go into this, and I was going to convince him that I should not get a full time job, and I should do candles, I was going to need a spreadsheet. And so I really love that, yeah, I needed a spreadsheet. He's a spreadsheet guy. So he wanted to see it, he is very type A. And of course, he doesn't micromanage, but I, I needed it for myself too. And so I didn't go out and you know, spend a bunch of money on branding or any of that. However, I will say that I did eventually I got there. And so I, I'm glad that I did it the way I did, I took it slow to make sure that people were kind of, you know, buying what I was putting out, sniffing what I was smelling, if you will. And so I waited and then I made those investments. So it was really tight for a while because it it was buying in bulk to save in the long term. But it definitely paid off in the end to take it slow, at least for me, you know, with the company and and then that way I could not have this debt in the back of my mind like you owe the bank $50,000 or whatever it is,

Kathleen Shannon 13:51
right? Because I remember you had even approached me about branding, and you're like, Whoa, way out of the budget and our branding package isn't super expensive. But I feel like so many people, I'm going to actually come back to the branding thing and spray painting. Yes, the bottoms of your candle. Yeah, hold, because I and I remember telling you at least I hope I told you at the time that it's not a big deal. Like what you've done is beautiful. And it's working. And yes, the candle itself is the brand. And really the logo is the icing on the cake.

Nicole Bisby 14:20
So you did tell me that and I and I appreciated that because I was so scared because you guys were like my dream. Like I remember thinking when I get big enough, I'm gonna hire braid creative and they're gonna do all my stuff. And it just candles wasn't making enough money to for me to look at my spreadsheet and say, Hey, let me allocate, you know, 1/4 of my income or whatever it was like, hey, let me go buy some groceries.

Kathleen Shannon 14:50
I think that you made a smart move there. And you did end up going with our friend Chris Castro. So shout out to Chris because he's such an amazing designer and whenever people do Go with us. I'm always like Chris is your guy. So the logo is beautiful. It's kind of like a Moroccan hand. What's it called?

Nicole Bisby 15:11
It's a Hamza Hamza.

Kathleen Shannon 15:13
It's how to how you to fall Thank you. But going back to the initial labels like they were still you had good taste and good style and I think that you knew well enough to keep it simple like if you couldn't go all out to keep it really simple. So it's almost like a typewriter in all caps. And it just said, you know, Bisbee candles and then maybe the scent on it. And then I had read number like a number about Yeah, that you hand wrote probably because he printed them all at once.

Nicole Bisby 15:41
I didn't sell them. I stamped them. Oh my gosh, I had a little bit I had a better Oh, yeah,

Emily Thompson 15:46
I had a stamped hand award small batch candle. Yeah, you could charge like 80 bucks a pop for

Unknown Speaker 15:55
me. anhand hot glued.

Nicole Bisby 15:59
They were hot glued. And I mean, I had no idea what I was doing. And, and but I'm so glad I love that I had no idea what I was doing, because I had so much fun. And that I mean, I would stay up until 3am making candles. I mean, if you asked me to do that, now I don't. I save till 3am with my baby. But that's it.

Kathleen Shannon 16:21
Right. And so so the candles, you started small. So this is the other thing we're gonna talk about. We starting small. I actually have a lot of admiration right now, for Kylie Jenner of all people. I don't know if I've even talked about this in the podcast yet

Unknown Speaker 16:36
I think you have. But I've been talking about it

Kathleen Shannon 16:39
again. And it's not necessarily her that I like, but maybe I don't know, I don't know her personally. So I'm not going to make any commentary on her as a person. But the Kylie Lip Kits, I think was genius. I feel like this girl has all the resources available to her to launch with a full makeup line. And she launched her three things and made it this really like in demand product. And I thought that that was so genius, just really starting small. And my hope is that she started small because she was like, I want to perfect this thing and then move on to the next or that someone was telling her to do this. I like to think in my heart that it was her like this is the way to go. But probably not.

Nicole Bisby 17:24
Hopefully, you know, I feel like I perhaps or it's a you know her agent that said, hey, let's do this.

Emily Thompson 17:33
Someone had a genius idea whether it was her or someone like hey roll.

Kathleen Shannon 17:38
How many cents Did you launch with?

Nicole Bisby 17:41
And by law light by lunch? Do you mean my pictures? I was posting on Instagram? Yeah, the pictures

Kathleen Shannon 17:45
that you're posting the first pictures that you were posting what sent?

Nicole Bisby 17:50
Okay, I had toasted fig, which I still have and is probably the best seller. And then I had Bonnie's temple, which I no longer nicknames that complicated and long. But and then I had Earl Guan inverse. And so they were all travel inspired. And, and I actually kind of got away from that. But now I'm coming right back to that because I have now hit over three years of doing business. And I, you know, started to look back at where I started. And, you know, I realized that I needed to make sure I was still incorporating the travel because that is a big part of our lives. We spend our summers in Morocco and we go to Asia every year and we just we love to travel and so I wanted to make sure that my company was reflecting that and the candles and the scents and the fragrances So to answer your question, I think it was three

Kathleen Shannon 18:44
just like Kylie's lip kit,

Unknown Speaker 18:45
just like Kylie

Kathleen Shannon 18:50
Okay, so I want to go into a little bit of the making process. Yeah, and I bet Emily's really curious about that too. And yeah, Emily made some candles for

Emily Thompson 19:00
Grace's I decided the the Christmas candle making this past season where I always like making gifts too. And last year, it was candles. Kathleen got some of my first batch and she told me she's like Emily, this candle is burning weird. And she showed it to me and it really really was. So if my later candles were much better, I'm excited about hearing about how you make candles.

Kathleen Shannon 19:22
Okay, Emily's candle smelled really great. It was incredibly potent like the fragrance didn't and so whenever I open it, but it was good. I'm not you know it was good but I opened the candle and I was eating a bowl of oatmeal at the time. And I opened the candle because I think I didn't know quite what it was like. I didn't know what was inside this tin. I thought it could be anything chocolates for all I knew. So I opened it I haven't opened it over this bowl of oatmeal and a tiny little crumb of the candle falls into the bowl of oatmeal and I enjoy my entire bowl of oatmeal. Not tasted like this candle so that was my experience with Emily's candle right

Emily Thompson 20:06
I wanted you to have full experience and God that I gave it to you

Kathleen Shannon 20:11
okay but Emily is like on point with her crafts like they look I think that everything you do as an artist looks really good so I was really surprised whenever it didn't burn perfectly

like I was surprised

Unknown Speaker 20:26
put you know

Kathleen Shannon 20:29
on your Oh, I'm just saying that maybe it's not as easy as Bisbee is acting like it is to make a candle so I want to hear about your creative process of like how do you come up with your cents? And how do you ensure such a quality product because I feel like since day one I always have one of your candles in my home and I feel like since day one they just are perfection from fragrance to the way that they burn all of it

Nicole Bisby 20:56
yeah Kathleen thank yeah that makes me feel so i i still you know going going back to the beginning like I still sometimes I'm surprised to hear like that people like have them in their homes I'm like you do you get every time I get giddy I'm like yo Do you like them? You do just you know it's it's it's a piece of me and when you in your maker like literally it's it's a piece of view in their home and and so I love that I love to hear that people love them and they gift them and and I never get tired of people telling me that because it makes me happy because I've spent hours perfecting it in hours thinking about it you know i i looked at the hours that I I've worked and I'm sure it's been 60 plus a week and it's funny because if you think of like in the beginning of course and now I have an employee who's amazing Her name is Abby shout out to Abby holding down the fort making candles why while I was out you know having a baby I was birthing the child will start

Unknown Speaker 21:55
talking about that next

Nicole Bisby 21:57
yes we'll talk today talking about baby well okay so the reason I think my candles burn well is because I use all natural ingredients I started when I was making candles part of the reason I want to make them because I read an article about paraffin candles and about candles being toxic in your home and I started doing the research and I really did find out that you know the cheap candles you find you know what, you know, Target or wherever they're cheap for a reason. You're not getting quality ingredients so I use only soy to us grown soy essential oils which can get really pricey at some so I use essential oils and fine fragrance and then just a cotton wick that's it i mean that's all that goes into it

Kathleen Shannon 22:47
obviously are you like Breaking Bad over there like getting the perfect yeah sure you see

Nicole Bisby 22:51
this behind me more?

Kathleen Shannon 22:54
So you guys can't see it but behind the call or like racks it looks like baking rocks with candles on it and then there are different like almost pots and pans hanging from my machine my wow yeah, I mean it looks like you're cooking meth back there.

Nicole Bisby 23:09
I I joke I did a Instagram story one time and I had like some wax in my hand and I had on my stars and I was like meth or candles.

Kathleen Shannon 23:21
Good front with the fragrance never.

Nicole Bisby 23:23
totally totally

Kathleen Shannon 23:25
off. I'm not I'm not condoning this.

Emily Thompson 23:27
Also says a bunch of cigs you probably have no idea what the meth making or smelling process looks like.

Kathleen Shannon 23:34
Breaking Bad I legit thought I was an expert. I was convinced that my neighbor was cooking meth he probably really was. Every time I saw an RV I was like huh, I know what's

Nicole Bisby 23:46
going on in there. We know we all know we're we know Yeah, so yes, we are we we call it you know science class. I joke with Abby I'm like, we got to go all science class over here because you have to do the proportions and with every fragrance. It's a little different. because like you said about Emily's candle. And you know, perhaps that fragrance just had a really strong throw. And he wouldn't need to add that much. You need less about what you mean by throw. A Hey, you know, you know, it's it is it's it's science and I hated science growing up which is hilarious. And it's it's math and I can barely do math. My husband makes fun of me because when I have to count I'm like 123 where's my toe four or five. So it is math and it is science. But once you perfect it at least once I perfected it with the proportions to the glass to the poor to the heat, then that I can get really creative with the sense and that is what I love. I love to just come in, put on some good music jam out and come up with some fragrances and generally they are travel travel since sometimes they're just custom since I've been working on a really Cool fragrance for the Jones assembly the new place. It's opening up here in Oklahoma sitting here.

Unknown Speaker 25:04
Yeah.

Nicole Bisby 25:06
And we've been using black pepper and whiskey and cardamom and cedar and it is just manly. And it is just it's out of this world. We've had so much fun making it.

Kathleen Shannon 25:19
I love that.

Unknown Speaker 25:21
Yeah. So we do that.

Kathleen Shannon 25:22
All right. Have you had any like maker fails? Like, have you ever had a batch of candles that just cost you everything?

Nicole Bisby 25:29
Yes, yes, my first large custom candle order. So I do a lot of for boutiques and different stores, they call and they say, Hey, we want to get a custom fragrance. And I believe they ordered like 200 candles. And this time I was in my garage. I didn't have this space that I have here. And it was really cold. And once I poured the candles, they were warm. And then I went to bed and I came in the next day. And it had separated in the middle. So like the wax was all disjointed. There was all these holes, and it was like 100 no 100 candles, which was hundreds of dollars of product. Yeah, so I cried. I cried and cried and I swore I was gonna give up and never do it again. But I did of course.

Emily Thompson 26:21
Okay, and only imagine you can cut that but

Nicole Bisby 26:27
Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. You and and, and there's ways to fix like two or three candles like you can. It's like a big blow dryer kind of thing. But you can't do that with like, 100 candles. I mean, I it was it was awful. I mean, then I learned I need a studio space. And so I finally found a space that was temperature monitored because it wasn't working in the garage.

Kathleen Shannon 26:51
Okay, so do you have any other questions about the process of making candles Emily, like the creative process? Because I want to dig into the business side of things.

Emily Thompson 27:00
No, I think I'm good. I think I've wrapped up my tenure as a candle maker.

Unknown Speaker 27:05
You can call me Emily.

Emily Thompson 27:07
Right? Well, you, will you except for maybe very personal reasons. But oh,

Nicole Bisby 27:12
I did have limits next year for Christmas.

Emily Thompson 27:16
And I'll give you not the first batch,

Kathleen Shannon 27:18
right. Yeah, why don't you send it to me after you've perfected it? We'll do um, okay, so I did have a question, though. About that first candle you made? Did you watch a YouTube video? And then what have you done to continue your education and hone your craft?

Nicole Bisby 27:36
And so yes, I watched a YouTube video. Actually, it was, I think there's like a soap one. And she has her own YouTube. She's called like soap queen or something. And, and so I found it through the soap. And I'm sure there are a whole lot better videos. Now. This was what five years ago when I first started making candles. And so it was just some like old lady in her kitchen. And she you know, she was like, and then you poured the wax and then and and it was adorable and sweet. And yes. And so to hone the craft. We've just really I say we because Abby now is here and she's helping me make all the orders I could not survive without her. And we we learn every day. And every day and every fragrance is a little different. And so with the essential oils, we have to be careful because if you heat the wax too hot, it will burn off the essential oil. And like I said, it's really pricey. So that's that's a scary thing to do. I'm like, Abby, don't burn the product up. Don't burn it up.

Kathleen Shannon 28:38
Like full circle with your dad is Yeah,

Unknown Speaker 28:41
exactly, exactly.

Kathleen Shannon 28:42
Okay, so I want to get into the business side of things and get a really clear picture if you don't mind sharing of like how your business has grown. So maybe we even start from today. Like how many candles are you making a day you're in Whole Foods, you're in westoe you might have things working with other brands to like. So let's start at where you're at. Tell us about how successful you are right now. And then let's work backwards from there to see how you got there. From like that in your kitchen to then the garage to then your own place to having an employee like I want to hear the whole story.

Nicole Bisby 29:19
Definitely. Okay, so right now I'm in every wholefoods in Oklahoma, and I'm working on getting regional status where I would be in Texas and I think New Mexico, it's a lot of paperwork, a lot a lot of paperwork. And and I always you know, I kind of think that that's the funniest part of it too, because I hate the paperwork. I love making the product making it pretty taking a picture. But 90% of what I do now is making phone calls emails and doing paperwork and, and and that's and that's kind of how I got to where I did is I was organized and I really made sure that I was calling people and I was looking for a good fit. So, for example, with Whole Foods, and they found me, which was kind of cool. And I got an email and they said, Hey, we saw you on LinkedIn, it was it was a person working locally, and they said, you should submit it.

Kathleen Shannon 30:20
Okay, I literally thought that creatives did not need LinkedIn until right now.

Nicole Bisby 30:24
Oh, they need LinkedIn, they need it. And I, I, I'm shouting it from the rooftops. Because I didn't think I needed LinkedIn either. And then I got Whole Foods through LinkedIn. So get your LinkedIn, use it. And I so from there, it was a series of paperwork, paperwork, and I really learned how to be persistent, and when to be persistent. And, you know, I, I had everything finished. And the person I was working with actually moved to a different position. And so I kind of got mixed in the like in the filing, right. So I was what's called an approved vendor, but I wasn't in the stores yet. And so I had already been really excited until everybody. And I really wasn't yet. But I was. And it was really a year, it took a year from the time that they said, Yes, your product is great. We want to buy it. To them actually placing their first order, it was a year. Okay, so

Kathleen Shannon 31:31
what's really interesting about that story as a consumer is I remember you saying I'm in Whole Foods, and then a year later being like, okay, now I'm actually in Whole Foods Exactly. And it didn't feel like a year at all, like that may have felt like an epic flub to you. But it was no big deal. From my side of things. At least, that's good. Just throwing that out there. And for anyone who ever feels like, ah, like, Why am I always saying things? This probably me, I'm always saying, look, and there is no printed book yet. So stop saying it.

Nicole Bisby 32:04
But you know, a bit I on the other hand, I feel like so with your book, doesn't that make you work extra hard, you're like I told people, so I better do this shit.

Kathleen Shannon 32:13
Totally. And I think that is the power in sharing as you go is that it really does hold you accountable to your customers and to your followers on Instagram, and whoever is looking at you and your work. And I think that there's something about whenever you put it out there that people's energy, like almost like they're giving you good vibes to make it happen, or they're excited about it. And that kind of fuels you as well.

Nicole Bisby 32:39
Well, and I I've had so much love from the Oklahoma City Community and you know, all my friends outside of Oklahoma City, but everybody locally, when they heard anything about my candles, I they would just come with me and say I love your candles. I love what you're doing. So supportive. And I can't say that about a lot of communities. I feel like there's I know that I follow some blogs and some other entrepreneurs and I don't feel like they have a community like we do here. And Oklahoma doesn't have the best of everything. Always. As we both know, Kathleen, I feel like we like

Kathleen Shannon 33:17
instagrammed each other our escape routes.

Nicole Bisby 33:23
We We both I think would would love to potentially be somewhere else eventually. But I have to say that I couldn't ask for a better community here to be supportive, and to really follow through because there's one thing to actually just like on your phone, like, Oh, I like that picture. But to literally go order, go to the website, place an order, go to the westown pop up shop buy from me, and I have had nothing but love here and it's been awesome. Awesome. So I'm really grateful for that.

Kathleen Shannon 33:57
Okay, so how many candles? Are you making a

Nicole Bisby 34:00
day? A day, you know it or a week or like whatever your metrics are? You know, we should be tracking that Kathleen? Here, you're calling me out. We

Kathleen Shannon 34:10
really should like 1000s like, are you making like 30,000 candles a month? Is that an insane? No,

Nicole Bisby 34:17
that isn't the same number. No, but we I would say we probably average 50 a day. Candles a day? Probably maybe depending I mean from September to February. It's closer to 100 a day. Because holiday is insane. That is our biggest time obviously, for candles and every year it it almost doubles. So since I started it's like okay, more orders. Okay, more orders. So that that's been really wonderful. Obviously, I'd love to have even more so hopefully, we can do that. But it's in the summer. You know, candles isn't they're not as popular people don't really As many candles, also, it's kind of hard to ship candles in the summer, I get a little worried when people want to place a hard wholesale order for like, you know, 85 candles. And I'm like, it may or may not be melted when they get there.

Kathleen Shannon 35:14
So Wow, yeah. And so how many stores are you in right now do you know,

Nicole Bisby 35:19
we're in about 40, different stores 40, to 50, and regional

Unknown Speaker 35:25
are all over the place

Nicole Bisby 35:26
all over, we have one in La Jolla, we have one in Fayetteville, we have one in New Jersey. They're just kind of sprinkled all over. And that's what's been fun. I've love to get to meet different people, and find out how they found me and how we've connected I've done little reaching out to stores to be honest, it's been all through Instagram. And really just finding brands that I liked following them, they follow Me. And if we connected. I'm a big proponent on finding other businesses that reflect your brands. And working from there.

Kathleen Shannon 36:09
I don't want it that like just collaboration is where it's at. And I feel like that's something special about the Oklahoma City Community as well. And obviously, it's all I know, because it's where I live. But I feel like all the stores and shops and creatives and artists here are all helping each other out. Like they're all giving each other tips and advice and numbers. And everyone just understands that whenever they can create a community of, you know, locals who are supporting local that it does good for everybody.

Nicole Bisby 36:40
Yes, definitely. And, and I've had just, I've had great luck locally, but I've even had luck, you know, the people that I sell to in California and in New Jersey, you know, it was just a good fit. And so I learned, you know, there's a store in Dallas that I've always thought was so cool and would be a good fit, and I have harassed them and they never returned my phone calls emails, I sent them a box of samples. And I just learned it's you can't win them all. And it's okay. And I think I wouldn't call that a failure. But you know, it's learning when to be persistent and knowing when to just move on.

Kathleen Shannon 37:17
You know, you're gonna feel so boss in five years, whenever they email you and they're like, we heard about your candles. We'd love to carry you and you're gonna be like, huh, yeah. So, Nicole, you are a new mom. How old is your son?

Nicole Bisby 37:32
He is seven months old.

Kathleen Shannon 37:34
Oh my gosh, he's so cute. your photos of him on Instagram.

Unknown Speaker 37:37
I mean,

Kathleen Shannon 37:39
I sent you a message the other day saying like, I think my baby's cute. And don't tell him this but your babies the cutest. He is so cute. His little smile.

Nicole Bisby 37:49
He's a ham. You know, he is the sweetest baby throughout the day. And he is adorable. But like he turns into a werewolf at night. I don't I don't know if this has something to do with his like, extrovert personality. He hates sleeping. He hates it. And he he'll you? Yes, we're in the we're in the moms. What is that? The mommy support group? Oh, yeah, I

Kathleen Shannon 38:18
refuse to join mommy support groups. Two years in whenever he still wasn't sleeping. Sorry. He still wasn't sleeping, too. And I was like, I need help. But then those support groups did not prove to be helpful because everyone's kid is sleeping by too. Except I know

Nicole Bisby 38:35
in mind. Okay. So, yes. And that. I agree with the mommy support groups. I actually have jokingly said I don't want to be any anything within a mom in it. And I am a mom. But it always just feels. It's just odd that that? I don't know. So yeah.

Kathleen Shannon 38:53
Okay, so you are a mom, boss, we I want to know about how you took maternity leave. And it sounds like that's maybe when you hired your employees. So tell us how you set that system up? And what it's like being a working mom, like what is your situation?

Nicole Bisby 39:07
Yeah. So in August, I got an email from a girl that was looking for some part time work. And we had talked a year before and she was busy. And then she was reconnecting with me in August. And I said, Yes, let's meet up. I'm about to have a baby. I was due in September, and I believe my due date was like September 29 or something. And so I met with her on the second of September. And then I trained her two times and then my baby came early. So then what So then she took over She's amazing. I really did she just like picture. So we thank goodness had two solid days of just candlemaking training. Here's the process. I gave her all my notes. You know, my mad scientist notes of since we have no like digital, this is hilarious. I may be able to show you guys it's literally my chicken scratch on post it notes and those are like my fragrances and they're just like all over,

Kathleen Shannon 40:16
take to the wall. This is your homework. You need to get our systems on a cloud, because if your place burns down, oh, yeah.

Nicole Bisby 40:26
Oh, yeah, actually, but I think Abby, I think Abby did that I believe she said, Hey, I'm gonna go ahead and do that. So I believe it is somewhere. But I still when I'm in here, I use the chicken scratch. No,

Kathleen Shannon 40:39
I love it.

Nicole Bisby 40:40
I'm a crazy person. So so it was it was trial by fire with her, I had these grand ideas of, you know, training her all the processes, and all of this and all that. And then we got to full trainings. And thank goodness, she knew how to make the candles. I didn't really train her on, you know, website orders and get her an email setup or any of that stuff. So thank goodness, people are nice. Let's just say can we get a shout out to people? Like

Emily Thompson 41:09
I think more shout outs need to be made to nice people, for sure. legit shout out to all the nice folks and

Nicole Bisby 41:15
kind thoughtful people because I had had a few orders the week that Malik came, and I just responded from my smartphone, you know, Hey, I just had a baby. I'm gonna forward these to Abby, my new employee, and I think she's gonna take care of it. Let me know if she doesn't. And it all worked out. It did. And so then obviously after that we really did some full training and got her geared up. But it was trial by fire for us.

Kathleen Shannon 41:47
I mean, okay, but did hiring a new employee, I always think that it feels a lot like quitting the day job like it feels like another leap. And I don't think enough people talk about that whenever it comes to that first hire, especially a full time hire. So did she start off full time? And were you freaking out? Like, I'm going to not have to pay myself for a while? Or did you save up for your maternity leave? Like what was that like?

Nicole Bisby 42:09
And I wish I would have saved up for my maternity leave. I think I was in a denial that I wasn't going to be able to come in and make candles. The whole pregnancy. I worked. I'm also in school. I don't know if you knew that. So I'm getting an MBA. Oh, nice. Yeah. And so I'm in school. And so I'm in school, have the business and I'm pregnant. And I just kind of was in denial denial that I couldn't just keep doing that after he came like, I can just bring him to work. I got a solly baby wrapped. It's wrapped up. Maybe we can do this.

Kathleen Shannon 42:40
But yeah, no, it's not. Okay, so I want to talk about the NBA then for a second. Yeah, I feel like you needed to get that in order to do business or tell me more about your decision to go back to school because Emily and I are constantly like, you don't need a business degree to do business. So what made you decide to get a business degree?

Nicole Bisby 42:58
And I definitely think you don't need a business group to do business. And I wholeheartedly believe that. It It was a decision we made, because my husband teaches at the university, and we get a sweet discount.

Kathleen Shannon 43:18
Like I might as well just take advantage of this exam. If I'm any major in anything. It might as well be business.

Nicole Bisby 43:24
Yeah. Well, I Well, it's you know, I have my undergraduate is in international relations. And I knew nothing about business. And I never meant to be an entrepreneur. And so I think that I needed something. And I really thought, Hey, you know, I'll take a few business classes and see if I like it, and I loved them. And it was so much fun. And so I thought hey, I'll get the MBA and you know, maybe down the road, I can you know, help other people with their small businesses. That would be something I would love to do long term I'm still growing this my you know, my firstborn is B candles. My second words my son, but I i love that I love getting. I love going to class. I love learning. I don't think any of it isn't stuff you can learn by doing the work as you say. Or by Google search. I it's just it's all about doing it. Just reading it. And following through it. It's not there's no secrets. They don't they don't you know, have you come in wear cool hats and they're like, and now you're a business person. You know it right? I'd

Emily Thompson 44:34
go if they let me work cool hats, right.

Nicole Bisby 44:37
When you graduate you wear a cool hat. But yeah, how it went every day?

Emily Thompson 44:40
Yeah. Um, so I want to go back to your son really quick, though. Yeah. Um, you had him had him early. Yes. But what's happening now? So he said he's seven months old.

Nicole Bisby 44:52
Yes. I really had this romantic idea that I would be able to work from home or bring him here. Well, I made candles. And that it would be easy. And it really was when he was under three months old. Because I really could just strap him to me and do everything. At about four months old, though is you guys are both nodding your heads. And you can't that I mean, at least I could not. It was I would bring him to work. And I joke I'm like, Yeah, I brought him to work so I could change his diapers at work. I didn't work. I just changed his diapers at work. Right? And so we have been on less for Mother's Day Out. So we eventually just hired a nanny. And she comes about four times a week. And she's amazing. He loves her. And, and so he's with her while I'm working because I cannot work why I have him. And I don't think it's fair to him. And I think that as women, we need to stop trying to be everything. We can't be you can't be the best mom, the best entrepreneur, the best daughter, the best friend the best. Why everything? Why so yeah, so yeah, I'm

Unknown Speaker 46:06
still one of those two, right? We wanted

Kathleen Shannon 46:11
a lot of identities. And yeah, there is this expectation to be everything. Everything buddy at the same time.

Nicole Bisby 46:18
Yeah, at the same time, and with a smile. Um,

Kathleen Shannon 46:22
any better look good doing it.

Nicole Bisby 46:23
Yeah. And you better lose all that baby weight while you're doing. You know, and I and I just I love telling people like, yeah, we hired a nanny, or you know this because I think that a lot. Well, first of all, something that you talked about in a podcast recently was when I think it was when you were taking maternity leave. And people said, Well, are you going to go back to work? You know, and and it's funny, because no one asked husbands that, like, I know, are you going to go back to work?

Kathleen Shannon 46:54
And I wish people had been asking me, so are you going to build an empire? Right? Like, yes, that's what I'm doing.

Nicole Bisby 47:00
Thank you. Exactly. And it's, you know, it's it is funny, those those questions that you get, and you know, oh, you're going back to work? And it's like, Yes, I am. And I'm building something awesome. And, and so it's, it is funny, and I

Kathleen Shannon 47:17
think it's well meaning enough. And I think that you know, people don't have ill intentions whenever they're asking those questions. And I think especially the region that we live in, it is not super common for women to necessarily go back to work. But I want to shift directions a little bit before we close up this episode and ask you what are your biggest goals for for business? What do you want to do next, what's

Nicole Bisby 47:42
around the corner. So around the corner is getting into all Whole Foods. That's my goal right now that is on the radar. I love doing wholesale direct to consumer is how I started, obviously. But I'm finding that it's a lot easier for my business model to shift more into wholesale. It's, we can have so much different creativity here. And we will always do direct to consumer but shifting the business model just a little bit and trying to get into all the whole foods and other retailers doing custom fragrances. We love working with salons and stores and just different places that want to custom fragrance and restaurants and bars. That is so much fun. And we're set up for that. We're actually doing some candles for a store here. I don't think I can say what store but they used to make their own candles. And then they were like, Hey, why don't you just make them for us? And like I always kind of thought they were kind of like a competitor. And and so when I got this email I was like, oh, okay, yeah,

Kathleen Shannon 48:50
I just it was fun. If that we are you white labeling it for them? Like is it going to be their brand it is going to be their brand? their brand? What do you feel about that?

Nicole Bisby 49:01
I don't care. I don't I don't because it's word. We're getting paid.

Kathleen Shannon 49:08
Okay, but what if I burn that candle? And I was like, this is a busy candle. They're ripping her off? Are you well custom fragrances? I'm like I saw it work.

Nicole Bisby 49:18
Yeah, so well normally I do custom fragrances This is the first of like a different a person that had made candles how to Candle Company has now come to me because they know that we're set up to do you know, mass quantities. And so we will definitely have our name on the bottom label or so gotcha. Like poured by? Because I gotta get a little bit of credit.

Unknown Speaker 49:39
Are you having like a lawyer broker? That situation?

Unknown Speaker 49:42
I should.

Kathleen Shannon 49:43
I'm not saying that you should. But I do think you're right that you need to think about a little bit deeper. Like, like, what are all the things that could go along with this? They now own that fragrance?

Unknown Speaker 49:54
Yeah, well,

Nicole Bisby 49:55
there's Yeah, I mean that. I do that with all custom scents. So if I create one Like for you, that is yours. But I guess the what I've always felt good about is they don't really know the proportions. They don't know exactly what was in it.

Kathleen Shannon 50:11
So they didn't buy the equation to the formula.

Unknown Speaker 50:15
No, they just

Emily Thompson 50:16
bought this with you, Kathleen, kind of freaking out about the notion of white labeling. Yeah. For someone, I

Kathleen Shannon 50:22
love the idea of it. I love it. But I'm also like, It freaks me out a little.

Nicole Bisby 50:26
But I and I think that's good advice, too. And I'm, it's something that we haven't done before we do a lot. Well, that's not true. We do that for a lot of different places. But we always just have my sticker on the bottom that says poured by Bisbee? And has, you know, information where to find us?

Emily Thompson 50:43
Well, and I think the thing that I want to point out here is that's kind of the difference between being a candle maker and building like a brand where the brand is the cloud and the candle isn't? Yeah, if that makes sense where you can where it sounds like you are a candle maker. Yeah, it doesn't matter. Like what name is on it to some extent. But just the fact that you're able to craft these things. I think that's such like a great maker mentality, this idea that you're making it and it's going to whoever, for whatever reason, you just made a really great candle. See, and

Kathleen Shannon 51:16
probably as the branding expert over here, I'm like I see your brand. You know, I see your brand, and I don't want your brand to be diluted. And I'm not saying that this is a bad move at all. I'm sure it's really great. I think that there's just for me a lot of consideration that goes into because we've been asked to even white label the braid method before for other designers. And I'm like, wow, this could be a really cool licensing opportunity. Yeah, but I don't even really know what that means. And I don't really know what's involved in all of that. And then that has a whole other set of processes because it's a service. But

Nicole Bisby 51:49
yeah, but anyway, their business model. And that's, you know, why we went from, you know, just direct to consumer just pushing those website orders to doing mass quantities. I guess it's it's a quantities question. And it's do I want to sell five candles today? Or do I want to sell 500 candles today? And I was probably

Kathleen Shannon 52:08
the same amount of work. You know what I mean? I bet the same amount of work kind of goes into five versus 500. Like once you're set up for it, definitely. And to have just one client ordering 500 candles versus one client ordering one candle? Like it totally makes sense from a business standpoint. Yes. And at the end of the day, it's going to the consumer who's going to love your candles. So let's go ahead and wrap this up. I want to hear when you feel most boss or an instance when you felt most boss.

Unknown Speaker 52:37
Well, I

Nicole Bisby 52:38
I kind of joke that like some days I feel like like super mom often and the other days I feel like like a piece of crap. I think the days that I feel most boss like you know, I wake up feed the kid, get my to do list out, crush some emails, come in, make some candles, ship out some orders, and go home and have a good evening. I think when there's balance in it, and that's when I feel most boss when I've had a day that I've planned that I've actually done everything on the list. And those those days don't always happen. So I

Kathleen Shannon 53:12
don't think I've ever had that day.

Nicole Bisby 53:14
I know. Well at work. I mean a day that Emily's that's every day for me.

Kathleen Shannon 53:18
I'd really like to check. They're beautiful.

Emily Thompson 53:22
You guys just need older kids like your work yes, trust me I go through

Nicole Bisby 53:26
Kathleen and I were we're in the trenches right now with the babes and every day you never know it's all depends on their mood. You know, we may have a fabulous day and or it may be like I had one hour sleep and I'm covered in baby shit and I'm late for a meeting and you know it's you just you never know and so I think that is probably when I feel most boss when I when I complete everything I wish to do that day.

Kathleen Shannon 53:55
Love it. All right, let our listeners know where they can find you.

Nicole Bisby 54:00
If they can find me at shop bisbee.com or on Instagram at shop with me.

Kathleen Shannon 54:07
Thank you so much on the show. I've loved talking to you and hearing more of your story and just even getting to see your face.

Unknown Speaker 54:15
Yes, I

Nicole Bisby 54:15
loved it. I'm such a fan. I follow along since day one. So I've loved it. I really you guys do an amazing job. I'm so appreciative for the advice and tactics I've learned from listening to this podcast.

Kathleen Shannon 54:30
This episode of being boss was brought to you by fresh books cloud accounting, thank you to fresh books for sponsoring us and you guys can try it for free by going to freshbooks comm slash being boss. Thank you for listening to being boss. Find Articles show notes and downloads at WWW dot being boss club.

Emily Thompson 54:51
If you're a creative entrepreneur, Freelancer or small business owner who is ready to take your goals to the next level, check out the being boss clubhouse at two Day online retreat followed by a year of community support, monthly masterclasses book club secret episodes and optional in person retreats. Find more at www dot being boss club slash clubhouse.

Kathleen Shannon 55:14
Thank you so much to our team and sponsors who make being boss possible our sound engineer and web developer Corey winter. Our editorial director and content manager Caitlin brain, our community manager and social media director Sharon lukey. And are being countered David Austin, with support from braid creative and indicia biography,

Emily Thompson 55:33
do the work, the boss and we'll see you next week.