Rachael-Lea Rickards was waiting for an Uber in Toronto, when a stranger approached her and decked her in the face. The traumatic experience left her shaken; she had to learn to manage the anxiety that arrived from the assault. She discovered that making candles was not only something she very much enjoyed, but the creative process, and the busying of her hands, helped calm her mind and body.
The violent incident also made Rachael-Lea realize that life is precarious; if she wanted to dedicate more time and energy to doing what she loved, the time was now. So in April, during the frightening early days of the global pandemic, Rachael-Lea launched Real Talk Candles
, using her kitchen table as a home base.
Soon thereafter the company was selected to be part of Startup and Slay
, the entrepreneurial fast-track programme hosted by How She Hustles
that’s sponsored by CIBC. The experience of being able to connect with a supportive community, and receive mentorship, was game-changing. Since then, Real Talk Candles has landed a coveted spot on CityLine
, and has been picked up by Indigo
. Growth has been so exponential that it’s been challenging to keep the smart and cheeky candles in stock.
Here at Shedoesthecity we’ve never been fans of bullshit chit-chat, or ridiculously expensive candles, so we applaud everything that Real Talk Candles stands for. But we also love the idea of using a candle to start thought-provoking conversation. From the “Anxiety: Burn The Fucking Candle and Breathe” candle to the “You Don’t Miss Him: Burn This Candle, Masturbate and Don’t Send That Text!” candle, there’s something for every mood of 2020!
We caught up with the inimitable and daring Rachael-Lea to ask her stuff about her booming provocative candle biz.
How did being a part of the Start Up and Slay community help nurture your small business?
There is a beauty that happens when women come together to share, support, and cheering each other on. All of the women in the group came from very different backgrounds, with very different stories. Em, was a believer from the beginning, and I truly felt held up, even virtually, or with her sweet words of encouragement. It certainly made me feel supported, which is hugely helpful when you’re an entrepreneur, in your own world.
Indigo recently started selling Real Talk Candles. That’s HUGE! How does that make you feel?
Indigo/Chapters in Ajax gave us an opportunity, and we are very grateful. My candles aren’t polite, but they are flying off the shelves. At first, when I saw them next to some of those fancy-dancy candles I thought “Hmmmmmmm….”, but then I realized that fancy is overrated and people want REAL TALK! Among many labels we offer, I’ve been able to push our Black Lives Matter and our West Indian Mother candles (I’m a very proud Jamaican). I wasn’t sure they’d fly, to be honest, but before anyone could say anything, they were gone. POOF!
What’s your best advice for small business owners at the start of their journey?
Budget! Do a cost analysis. I was so excited when I started that I just started spending without really taking a look at my numbers. A good bookkeeper who can keep you in check is key. Also, don’t listen to the folks who say “Oh, I’m not sure you should do that!” or “Hmm, do you think that will fly?” If i had listened… I’d still be sitting somewhere not doing what I love. I spend 40% of my day, dancing to music with my staff (while making candles of course!).
What kind of real talk do you hope your candles will inspire?
Our tagline is “The candles that start conversations” I want laughter, I want thought-provoking conversations…I want difficult conversations to be introduced! I want my candles to mend relationships, and help make new ones. I want Big Girls (said lovingly from another Big Girl) to feel as sexy as they can be, and light their “Big Girl Candle”, I want to speak openly about anxiety and mental health. I want to say the politically incorrect things everyone wants to say but doesn’t. If I can give a voice to someone who doesn’t have it to give… then Real Talk Candles has done its job.
Check out the full collection of Real Talk Candles here.