Hi y’all! Back with a new installment of our Working Women We Adore series! Today I’m excited to introduce you to this candle-maker and founder of Ellion candles. Meet Ellion, the woman behind Houston-based Ellion Candles.
We’ve said this before, but the Working Women We Adore series has become near and dear to our hearts here at ABA. If you missed the last few installments of the series, read them here, here, and here. We love providing an outlet for women to share their stories, advice and the hard work they’ve put in as female business owners and entrepreneurs. Plus, now more than ever, highlighting local businesses and how you can support them is of utmost importance!
Today we introduce you to Ellion Self, Houston entrepreneur, mom and founder of Ellion Candles, hand-poured candles made in Houston, Texas. A self-proclaimed candle afficionado (I am too!), Ellion loved collecting candles, but never wanted to burn them, so instead of wasting money on expensive candles, she decided to try making them for herself!
In 2013, Ellion opened her online store, Ellion Candles and in 2015, she expaned her business by creating and marketing her very own line of hand-poured candles and scents. Today Ellion Candles features a variety of different candle scents and types of candles, along with other accessories like cloches and wick trimmers.
When Ellion isn’t hard at work shipping out orders or curating new candles, or working her full-time job as an engineer, she’s spending time with her husband and her sweet baby boy William, born earlier this year. Ellion also has a love for interior design and decor, and shares more about this love on the EllionHome instagram account. Her and her husband purchased a 1930s historic bungalow and have slowly renovated and restored the beautiful home to make it their own. Read on to learn more about Ellion and her namesake small business, Ellion Candles.
From engineer to successful creative business owner. What do you miss most and what don’t you miss about your past life?
Ellion: I’m actually still both. My past life would be college and studying to become an engineer so I don’t really consider that a past life. I consider it part of growing up and becoming an adult with responsibilities! Maybe I miss not having as many responsibilities!
I work full time as a civil/structural engineer in the energy sector and have been since I graduated from LSU 10 years ago. Three years after I graduated I found myself wanting something more. My free time was no longer occupied by college extracurricular activities or studying. That’s when I decided to create my candle business. I’ve always loved art and making things, I just didn’t know it was going to be candles.
Along with the career change, you recently added to your family. Congratulations. How has motherhood changed your work day? What is a typical day in the life of Ellion?
E: Thank you! Motherhood changes everything! My little guy is my whole world now. My week nights used to be filled with making candles after work and packaging orders, and as of this past year it was daycare pick up and night time baby routine. My weekends before motherhood were pop-up markets selling candles, but now I want to enjoy time with my son since I don’t really see him during the week. Motherhood takes up a lot of time and energy that I personally used towards my candle business, so unfortunately I haven’t had as much time for my business over the past year or so. I still want to keep it going I just can’t be involved as much as I was.
Your candles are made from soy and paraffin wax. What is the reason for that preference?
E: My candles are made with a special blend of container wax that is made up of soy and paraffin. If you’ve attempted to make candles before you’ve probably found that there is some experimentation involved. Flash points and melting points of wax, when to add fragrance oils, what types of wicks to use, what portions of oil to wax, etc, etc. When I started playing around with making candles I tried out two waxes; the one I use now and a soy wax. I knew what I liked about luxury candles and how I would want my candles to perform. I do not like wax to clump up on the sides of containers when they are burned and I do not like when the surface of the candle looks lumpy. I like when candles burn evenly, and when not lit they have smooth appearance. I can achieve that with this container wax.
Wood wicks vs. cotton wicks. What is your preference or what is the reason wood might be better for some or cotton might be better for others?
E: I like both, but wood is my go to! Wood gives off the sounds of a relaxing, tiny crackling fire place creating a lovely ambiance. Cotton however is what most people are used to, and might feel safer with, because they create a smaller fire. Cotton wick price points are lower than wood, therefore if you’re looking to spend less or try out scents available, the travel tin candles are made with cotton wicks.
Your flash sales that offer the one-of-a-kinds are so fun! Can you share a bit more about those? Can we send in our precious containers to make candles in?
E: The flash sales have been fun! I’ve been working from home during the pandemic, so it’s allowed me to be close to my in-home studio. When I started my company I originally poured all candles in vintage and repurposed glass only. For my vintage flash sale I went through left over stock that I had because I’ve been cleaning out and organizing my studio! I hope to do more fun products soon but it will be based on how much time I have to dedicate to it because custom items take more leg work.
Jardin d’herbes – lavender, rosemary, and sage. We love the descriptions to your unique scents. How do you name and create your scents and how long does it take to develop a new scent? Which is your favorite?
E: I wanted to stick with my french heritage so when I was brainstorming branding my candles I decided that all names would be in french. I try to make the names as recognizable as possible to those who don’t speak french, however that’s hard to do when I also want it to describe the candle.
I create my scents by having an idea of the fragrances I want to include, along with figuring out what would compliment those scents well or balance them out in another direction. I order multiple samples of oils and mix them until I think I have a good combination. Once I have that combination I make a test batch of candles and burn test them to experience the scent for myself.
As a business owner myself, we all have good days and not so great ones. What are some of the challenges you have run into as you’ve grown and how have you had to overcome?
E: My biggest challenge might’ve been foreshadowed in some of my previous answers, time. I like to stay busy, however I’ve learned an important lesson over the past few years and that is learning how to say no. I can’t do everything and being a yes person can be a bad thing.
Another challenge that most business owners would probably admit to is growth. When to grow and when to scale back. It’s not easy to predict the future.
The question we always ask is what is your go-to career gal outfit?
E: During the week (pre-pandemic) you’d find me in lots of black. Work slacks and chic blouses and most likely a red lip. Fridays and weekends you’ll find me in jeans or cute dresses.
At the end of a busy day, how do you unwind? Do you have any favorite hobbies?
E: Hobbies? Not much time for hobbies but I love to travel, drink wine, eat good food – cooking or eating out, spend time with my family, and making things or decorating.
What is your advice to any young woman, starting down the path of their own business?
E: You never know what you can learn from other business owners even if it may seem like your businesses have nothing in common. Free advice is the most valuable thing you can receive!