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We caught up with the brilliant and insightful Ashley Shillingford a few weeks ago and have shared our conversation below.
Can you take some time to bring our readers up to speed on you and what you do?
Ashley Shillingford is the Founder and CEO of ReWax and UnWine, Candle Making Party Studio. Ashley is giving customers the opportunity to hand pour their very own signature candles. Guests come to ReWax & UnWine to celebrate birthday parties, bachelorette parties, baby showers, and all of life’s’ special moments.
As an industry leader, Ashley has franchised her candle and sip profitable business model and is offering the opportunity for business savvy people to own and operate their own candle making party studio.
Before Ashley started ReWax and UnWine in 2018 she came from a diverse business background of Human Resources, Marketing, and Sales. Ashley is now reinventing the way candles are poured in an upbeat, interactive environment were customers come to get LIT! She spends most of her working hours on growth, development and expansion for the brand and continues to empower and grow her team to success.
Can you tell us about a time you’ve had to pivot?
Most people in this lifetime would say that during the pandemic is when they had to pivot. In 2020, I would agree, for this was certainly my life. However, it was not the daunting outcome that befell so many others. The pandemic challenged me like I’ve never been before, and yet, I’m grateful for that. My experiences varied from almost losing my livelihood, keeping the staff on payroll, and paying for the business expenses; all while we were shut down for five months! My stress level was astronomical, and it felt like I was losing a child…yes , it was THAT intense!
As with all great storms, there was calm at the center. I actually felt clarity and peace; able to visualize a clear picture of what to do. During this time, I immersed myself in every piece of knowledge and training I could get my hands on, and I was able to actively formulate a plan on what we can do to save the business. It was those moments of breathing and brainstorming that we actually needed the most. My husband and I developed a candle making kit that began as a quarantine activity, but then after corporate clients caught on, we excelled at team building and client appreciation through virtual events as well. During this time, our largest client base consisted of Audible, Square Space, Google, Healthline Media, and many many more. These brands continue to utilize our services continuously, and this is the way that we were able to pivot our business in a such a short time and keep growing the brand.
We also pivoted our mindsets during this time, not allowing obstacles to knock us down. By staying ahead of challenges, being solution oriented and comfortable with being constant change is our growth mindset. We were able to transform a timeframe that could have crushed us into a sensational triumph; coming out stronger and more resilient.
Putting training and knowledge aside, what else do you think really matters in terms of succeeding in your field?
ReWax and UnWine is in an untapped market. There are not a lot of businesses offering customers the opportunity to create their own custom candles. Candles sales are $3.6 billion nationwide each year. The DIY experiential industry is on the rise and we are taking it by storm!
We are reinventing the way candles are poured in a party-like atmosphere. The goal of the concept is to change people’s perception on what defines a fun night out. Our culture is inclusive, and we take pride in diversity, setting a vibe at the door as our Hosts greet every customer in an upbeat manner. The music is always bumping with top 40s hip-hop and dance music. We are truly a party; often referred to as the pregame spot, that offers an alternative nightlife experience.
In our first year, we shared a space with another business owner. That was a great option, especially considering the skyrocketing rent prices in Manhattan. However, we quickly scaled up after Macy’s hired us for their Operations team holiday party. We then realized we needed to offer more events per week and set our own tone for the candle making studio. We signed our first official lease in a New Jersey location and then opened up our own location in Manhattan shortly after that. Having our own brick and mortar has given us tremendous growth!
We have a unique business concept that a lot of customers have not tried before, so we were able to make the experience uniquely ours. I hired a team to support my efforts and then together we built systems and trainings. We developed our procedures together. We of course always want to encourage the team to work in excellence on an individual level by empowering them to grow independently, however, we set expectations and guidelines to ensure we are moving towards the same goal. Everyone works on a value added task. By doing so, my team has allowed me the opportunity to grow the brand in ways, I could never have imagined.
Lastly, having business besties has not only held me accountable, they have also gotten me through some very challenging times. Never underestimate the value of a likeminded individual.
The main take away is PERSEVERANCE! Strike when the iron is hot, and learn by doing, but with calculated risk.