As college roommates, Caliyah Hogan, Disha Tailor and Zakiah (Kiah) Davis realized how much fragrance elevated their mood when they were stressed out and busy juggling work and school. “Often that stress showed up in our physical space and our dorm would be messy,” Hogan said. “We enjoyed burning candles while we cleaned, sharing a passion for good, clean smells.” The women also recognized how the stress and isolation of the COVID pandemic caused so many others to struggle with their mental health, inspiring them to found CDK’s Greener Flame Candles Co. Their hand-crafted, eco-friendly candles are based on the six holistic pillars of wellness – physical, emotional, mental, social, spiritual and environmental health. “Our candles are designed to serve as physical reminders to celebrate and work on those pillars,” Hogan said.
The partners are graduates of MORTAR at Bounce, a 15-week small business accelerator focused on serving minority- and women-owned businesses. “It was a great experience, and I loved every minute,” said Hogan. “We were introduced to amazing resources, including a mentor that helped us with packaging and pricing.” CDK’s Greener Flame Candles Co. was accepted into MORTAR Cohort 9 in January 2023, graduating in May. “We had established our business in March of 2021, but recognized that we needed more assistance before selling physical products,” Hogan said. “There were a lot of details that we hadn’t considered, but MORTAR gave us solid answers and led us in the right direction.”
The partners are now preparing to launch their candles including 12- and five-ounce candles and tealights. The fragrances are custom-made blends of fragrance and essential oils with notes of lavender, peppermint and frankincense. Each woman has created their own signature scent, representing her personality and aspects of the six holistic pillars of wellness. The candles are called Candid, Dream State and Kinesthetic, and each also features a music playlist. For the online launch, the partners will include care packages with tips and ideas for greener and healthier holistic living. They are also creating an online quiz with suggested activities based on the chosen pillar of health.
“We’ve made our candles as natural as possible with vegan, non-GMO wax containing no
preservatives or dyes, and the fragrance oils are made using eco-friendly manufacturing processes,” Hogan said. “We’ve also chosen a wooden wick that crackles and produces less soot than cotton wicks. The company that supplies the wicks plants trees based on the number of wick orders.”
As they prepare to launch product sales through a new website, Hogan credits the Bounce Startup Showcase with introducing their candles to potential customers. “It was great to meet new people and other entrepreneurs. It was a big opportunity for us and big for the brand,” she said. She encourages other entrepreneurs to find community resources, take classes and not be afraid to ask for help. “You don’t know what you don’t know,” she said. “Meet people who have been there. Share ideas with those who can help. Brainstorm with like-minded people you can trust.”
While self-financing has been a challenge, and the women all juggle other jobs, Hogan said it’s
been rewarding to see their idea come to fruition and for their brand to grow. “It can be chaotic at times and one of our partners lives in California now, so we have the distance and time difference, but we make it work,” she said. “It’s important to be flexible and be able to pivot. We knew this would be hard work, but it’s always worth it.”
The GROW program at Bounce supports both aspiring and experienced entrepreneurs as they bring their ideas to life. The program focuses on minorities and women. CDK Greener Flame Candle Co. is a graduate of the nineth cohort of the MORTAR at Bounce program, our 15-week business accelerator.
To learn more about CDK Greener Flame Candle Co., please visit: CDK’s Greener Flame Candles Co.
To learn more about MORTAR at Bounce, please https://bouncehub.org/mortar/.
About the author:
Jill Wodtley, APR, is a freelance writer and owner of Fine Point Public Relations and Advertising. An accredited member of the Public Relations Society of America, she develops and implements marketing communications, public relations and advertising initiatives for a variety of clients, ranging from health care and social service agencies to industrial/manufacturing firms.