We had the good fortune of connecting with Abby Radford and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Abby, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
Shining Light Candle Co. was born from my need to express myself creatively but also make an impact, whether big or small, on other people’s lives. I’ve always loved the atmosphere that candles can create in any space just from the fragrance and the glowing flame. When I need a little time for myself, my favorite thing to do is curl up with a good book, a warm coffee, and a fragrant candle. I don’t think I’m alone when it comes to this idea of relaxing. I believe that candles can bring people up when they might be feeling down. Scents are very closely tied to memory, so what happens if I offer a candle that takes someone back to their favorite childhood vacation to the beach? Or a weekend away at Grandma’s with her homemade cookies? Or even hanging out with Dad and his musky cologne? This is kind of where the name Shining Light stemmed from. If you’re feeling down, just look for that shining light to pick yourself back up again and focus on the happy memories from the past and the great ones you will make in the future. Along with feeling strongly about maintaining your mental health, I also am passionate about reducing my carbon footprint and using the least amount of waste as possible. I use eco-friendly, non-toxic ingredients to make my candles, as well as using recycled and/or biodegradable materials to package and ship my products. I didn’t want to start my business and add to our growing problem of waste in the world. The final goal of starting my business was to be able to do something for a bigger purpose. That’s why I decided to make a quarterly donation of all proceeds to Mental Health America. This organization advocates for all who deal with any mental health disorder across the board and I stand behind them. Everyone deserves to be heard and should never feel afraid to speak up and ask for help.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
My candles are made from eco-friendly, non-toxic ingredients and materials. I’m proud of the fact that my customers can enjoy my fragrances without worrying about dangerous toxins floating through the air in their home, causing danger to them, their family, and pets. I also encourage my customers to clean out their candle containers once the candle is burned all the way down. I offer a recycling incentive if they send back their empty container. Even if they don’t want to send the container back, I still encourage them to repurpose it for anything they want.
My background is a mixture of customer service, military service, and accounting. I think these all contribute to my professionalism. The military taught me to have the utmost respect for others. My customer service experience plays the biggest part in successfully serving my customers. My accounting experience (my full-time job) guides me through the backside of business keeping track of my expenses and sales. Even with the experience I already possess, there is still so much that I have to learn about running a small business. I learn something new everyday. Something I’m realizing recently is that a lot of people want to buy into YOU, not just your product. This means opening up and letting your customers and followers get to know you at the same time of learning about what products you have to offer.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
My favorite part about living in San Diego is the diversity in food and culture. I’m originally from a small town in the Midwest, but after living here, I could never live somewhere small and isolated again. I crave the diversity that San Diego offers. To start, a few of my favorite brunch spots are Swami’s on University Ave in North Park, Breakfast Republic right down the street from there, and Farmer’s Table in La Mesa. I also really love Sabuku Sushi on Adams Ave and Pioneer BBQ in La Mesa. As far as drinks go, San Diego has so many great bars. I base a lot of my preferences for bars off of the atmosphere. Tipsy Crow has a great lounge area on the second floor with huge comfy, lived in chairs and board games. Kettner Exchange has a chill atmosphere as well. My visitor would absolutely have to go see the sea lions at La Jolla Cove. While it’s normal and ordinary for us that live here, visitors can’t even imagine that being something they could just walk up and watch whenever they wanted. Of course, we would have to have a beach day. My favorite beach is actually Cardiff State Beach. It’s generally not as packed as Mission Beach or Pacific Beach and somewhat family oriented. Balboa Park would be our next stop. The Japanese Friendship Garden is my favorite spot there. It’s so serene and beautiful. Finally, I would take them to as many local coffee shops as I could. I’m a coffee addict and trying new coffee shops is my favorite thing to do here. A few of my favorites are Gladly Coffee in Spring Valley and Cuppa Cuppa in Mission Valley.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My partner, Jason, deserves a lot of credit toward my success so far. There have been many times where I have lost my motivation but he is always right there, encouraging me to keep going. When I’m stuck in a creative rut, he’s there, throwing ideas at me and just helping me brainstorm. The late nights I’ve stayed up in my candle studio fulfilling a last minute wholesale order or getting ready for a market event, he’s in there hanging out and keeping me company. He keeps me going and I love him for that.
Sophia Elizabeth Photography