It was a Christmas card morning, minus the snow. You know those cards that show a bleak and stormy night surrounding a tiny cottage, which glows a warm and welcoming yellow from within, and above is written some message about peace, home, and joy? That is what walking up to 5B&Co Candlemakers was like when I went to speak with Lori. The heavens were sputtering rain and the wind nearly pushed me down the street, and I mentally kicked myself for not dressing more warmly. I could see the glow of her store before I reached it, and as I swept inside, scents of home and warmth closed the door on the cold.
I imagine that it was roughly the same scene one November day over eight years ago when Lori visited the original 5B&Co store in Weston, Missouri. At the time, Lori taught elementary school, but sensed that she needed a change. Marsha, the owner of the Weston store, impressed Lori with her beautiful shop and personal charisma. Lori knew there was something different about the place before she even burned the candles she bought that day. She found herself thinking wistfully of having a shop owner’s life. When she got home and lit the candles, she was even more enthralled. By January she was talking to Marsha about opening a franchise, and by July, 5B&Co had a new second home in Brookside.
Lori says with a grin that she always had a bit of the “entrepreneurial bug.” As a child she sold kool-aid out of her mom’s driveway and ran a business with a friend selling cookies door-to-door. She loves her shop-owner’s life, even while describing it as “time-consuming.” With your own business, there are always more hours to be poured into making your products, setting up displays, creating promotions, and so on. Lori, like all of the other business owners I’ve interviewed so far for this project, relates that its not unheard of to stay in her store until midnight or longer. Also like all the rest, she says it’s important to call on help when needed, to know your own limits and always be willing to rethink what you’re doing. Trying to do too much doesn’t help anyone, especially when you’re already juggling many demands on your time.
Lori balances candlemaking and shop-running with being a mother to two adorable children, who sometimes accompany her while she’s in the store. Amidst the candles and customers, they’ve learned to be very social. The store is a great environment for children, she explains, because it’s a small community neighborhood, and people who come in always seem to be happy. They’re either relaxing, buying a gift for someone, or finding something fun for themselves. Lori acknowledges wryly that she doesn’t always get as much done when accompanied by a little one, but family comes first for her, and she enjoys the time she spends with them.
The shop itself has a charming checkered floor, whimsical light fixtures, and candy-like displays of their handmade candles. 5B&Co creates their line of candles right in the store. Their candles are made of a soy-based wax, which burns cleaner and longer than paraffin-only candles (their tiny tea lights burn for an unbelievable 5.5-6 hours!). The highly scented soy wax also “throws well,” meaning that two or three votives can fill your home with the most delicious smells available. As a candle aficionado myself, I can confirm that these are scents you can’t get anywhere else. Some have humorous names (“Clean Undies”) and some sound downright edible (“Burnt Sugar”), and there’s a scent for everyone. And as we come up on the holiday season, take note: Lori offers “gift tubes,” beautifully wrapped containers holding six votives. I can’t think of a single person on my gift-giving list who wouldn’t want to be handed a collection of these home-warming delights. Importantly, they can put together a fabulous gift for those pesky holiday “$5 limit” gift exchanges that always leave you scrambling for ideas. Well, scramble no more. Head over to 5B&Co – if for nothing else than to spend time in Lori’s warm, storybook shop.
When can I go? Their Brookside hours are: Mon-Fri 10am-6pm, Sat 10am-5pn, Sun 12pm-5pm
Wait! I don’t live anywhere near Kansas City! Can I still get my hands on some candles? Why yes, glad you asked! Just visit their website (click here and I’ll take you there) and you can order online.
Click here to read more Kansas City Women in Business portrait interviews.
Be sure to come back next week to meet a business owner who shared her secret to fabulous sales….