We had the good fortune of connecting with Jess Novello and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jess, how do you think about risk?
You know that song by O.P.P, “Naughty By Nature?” Well, I think I’m “Nervous By Nature.” I’ve never been skilled at risk taking. I’ve unfortunately lived a lot of my life afraid and let that fear dictate what I will and won’t do. I started to realize in my 20’s that the only thing holding me back from living a richer, more vibrant life was myself. I started to force myself to put myself out there in a variety of different ways: education, relationships, opportunities, etc. Every risk I took didn’t always pan out the way I wanted it to, but every time I took a risk, I found myself feeling more confident and more resilient. Starting my own business was a huge risk, and one that kept me from moving forward with my ideas for quite a while. I’m so glad I finally took the risk of launching Flora & Fauna because it’s been such a great way for me to grow personally and I am also so passionate about what I create!
What should our readers know about your business?
While Flora & Fauna is a huge part of my life, it’s not my only job. I spent my week days working as a High School Counselor. Making candles originally started as a fun hobby, then something I helped my sister do to raise money for an international service opportunity, and then I decided I wanted to share my candles with the rest of the world. Making candles is now very much a form of self care. I appreciate having something to spend time doing that is calming and creative. When I decided to start selling candles, it was really important to me to not sacrifice quality. There are a lot of harmful ingredients that can be in your generic, mass produced candle. The more I learned about these ingredients and chemicals, the more dedicated I became to ensuring that my candles are made from pure, clean, and non toxic ingredients. I also noticed that clean candles were really expensive- like “special occasions only” expensive. I don’t want that either. Sure, clean ingredients are more expensive which means I do have to charge more for my product, but I have always wanted that product to be accessible and affordable for the most people possible. I also hand pour all of my candles in my small kitchen in Vista. My kitchen is usually always covered in wax and my living room has supplies piled in each corner. I’m looking forward to the day when I can have a bigger space to create in, but I’m really grateful to have grown my little business in the place that I have. Most of what I’ve learned with my business and with creating a product I’m proud of has been done through trial and error. There are some things I’ve totally fallen flat on my face with decisions I made that didn’t move my business forward, opportunities I said no to that I should have said yes to (and vice versa!), but the only way to learn those things is through trial and error. A little failure builds grit which ultimately has made me a more resilient person, so I’m very grateful for that.
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?
One of my favorite places to start my day right in Vista (where I’m based) is at Milk Organics. They have the most delicious smoothie bowls and always play the best music. If I’m going to make the short trek to Oceanside for a beach walk, I always have to stop by Captain’s to grab an oatmilk latte and to peruse their inventory. It’s hard to go inside without making a purchase, but they have such great, unique items. Some of my other favorite local shops are Rising Co (it’s home to so many local makers!) and Landmark Plant Co. Some of my favorite places to eat are Mikko in Vista for sushi. Their Waimea Roll is my favorite thing ever and my boyfriend and I go there far too often. We’re also big fan of Craft Coast in Oceanside. I’m a member at Coomber Craft Wines in Oceanside and that’s my favorite place to take guests to. They have live music every single night (lots of great local artists like Francis Blume & Kimmi Bitter!) and they have great wine. They don’t serve food but you can get food delivered from a lot of local restaurants or bring your own. I love to bring some charcuterie, have a glass of Pinot Noir, and listen to that night’s performer. If you’re looking to treat yourself, I highly recommend making your way to Seven Skin & Beauty Loft in Vista or Blush & Co in Oceanside. Both are owned by incredible women who I’m blessed to call friends. They’ve created really beautiful environments that are so warm and welcoming. I think the thing that makes North County so fun is that so many people who have grown up here have created businesses here. I love that supporting local, small businesses means pouring money back into my community while also helping my business owning friends make their dreams come true.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge my family & my boyfriend in helping make my dreams of being a business owner come true. They have encouraged me to take risks, shared my products with their friends, and been involved with every aspect of my business. They become test subjects for new products, help me with media & marketing, and are willing to do whatever it takes to assist and support me. Without their help, I would be significantly more stressed and would likely not enjoy my business as much as I do. I’m so incredibly blessed to have them by my side in this endeavor.