Creating a Transparent Small Business on Artists’ Row

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Transparency in how you do business takes on a different meaning at Witch City Wicks where owner Liz Frazier lets you actually see how they make their candle products.

Witch City Wicks is an independent and thriving small business based out of Salem, Massachusetts, “the Witch City” from which the name is derived. Each candle is hand-poured in small batches using domestically-grown soy wax, lead free all-cotton wicks, fine fragrance oils and creatively inspired packaging.

“For anyone curious about the process behind creating our products, we’ll also be creating/working on location. You’ll get a unique opportunity to see how things get made.”

Interesting approach…. why go that extra mile?

Witch CityFrazier says, “I definitely feel that the hand-crafted movement is expanding and redefining views on what being creative and artistic can be. These days it’s not strictly putting a paint brush to canvas. And since we’re working and creating our products on site, it seems logical that people be able to watch and chat with us during the process.”

Community interaction is certainly one of the appealing factors of taking part in Salem’s creative business program called Artists’ Row, which runs May-November on a side-street strip of land.

She explains “The programming for Artists’ Row this year was intriguing because it’s showcasing creative businesses, people who hand-craft their products to sell. Hand-crafted items have become a huge element for the creative economy in recent years and it was exciting that Artists’ Row was bringing makers to Salem this year. Being able to start out in this kind of venue is giving us great experience in what it would be like to run our own storefronts, if that’s what we decide to do in the future.”

Witch City Wicks was founded in 2010 by Frazier, a former professional graphic designer, who desired to elevate creative expression from a digital medium to something more tactile.

liz fTo do this, she tapped into social media.

“I have a background in advertising/marketing and social media is a necessity when promoting a brand. In the beginning Facebook was a main channel for promoting for me, but I’d say that Instagram has had the most impact in driving sales. I currently update on Facebook, Twitter (on occasion), Instagram and am starting to tap into Pinterest more.”

Mainly selling through her online shop, Etsy and in person at various markets, the result has been a diverse range of classic and alternatively-themed collections of quality, long-lasting candles, that also enhance home decor.

Asked what was the biggest hurdle to overcome when starting her small business, Frazier says “The biggest hurdle has been tackling work/life balance. When you’re a small business, it’s very easy to get sucked into working all of the time. I have two children, who were very young when I started this, and it was difficult to manage my growing business and making sure my family’s needs were met. It’s still a challenge today.”

Speaking of a challenge, in a city full of artists, what does she feel sets her and her store’s contents apart from others?

“To my knowledge there aren’t many other candle makers in Salem, so I think that is high on the list of what sets me, specifically, apart from other artists. The current lineup of artists at Artists’ Row differ from traditional artists in that while we’re still creative in nature, we produce affordable products for purchase. Not everyone can afford a $400-$800 original painting, but a reasonably priced, hand-crafted item is a bit more tangible and someone gets to take home something that an artist created.”

And not letting an opportunity slip away without asking an expert for a tip, what’s the best way to enjoy a soy candle at home?

“When you light your candle for the first time, make sure the wick is about 1/4″ high. Soy candle wax has a memory of sorts, and will burn best and smell strongest if you establish a good melt pool straight off the bat.”

salem_large“Upon first lighting, please leave it going for between 2-3 hours,” she adds. “This will also help prevent the wax from ‘tunneling.’ Soy candles should never remain lit for longer than 2-3 hours at a stretch, and always let them cool completely before relighting. Once the wax has burned down to about 1/2″, please discontinue use.”

She advises, “You don’t want to scorch the furniture or risk cracking the glass! Store your candles in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight.”

Witch City Wicks is located at 24 New Derby Street in Salem’s Artists’ Row.

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