An Interview with Shaquita Joyner of S&Aj Candle Co.
By Shereá Denise
1. How long have you been a business owner? Tell us about your business(es).
S&Aj Candle Co, LLC has been in business since 2020. Business owners Shaquita Joyner and Alexandria Underhill are both natives of North Carolina and graduated from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University. We decided to make natural soy wax candles and other products in hopes to bring a calm and subtle fragrance to homes around the world. S&Aj Candle Co products include; candles, wax melts, and essential oils that can be purchased at saj-candle-co.myshopify.com.
2. Did you always know that you wanted to be a business owner or did something specific lead to it?
As college friends we developed a bond that serves as the foundation of our current business. After the pandemic, we were both challenged with daily unforeseen obstacles such as idle time and lack of finances due to budget cuts. Individuals around the world appeared to be turning their dreams into reality by becoming entrepreneurs, so we did the same which is where S&Aj Candle Co originated from. We both knew that we wanted to be business owners separately, so attempting to bridge our dreams together was a natural occurrence. Our business name is a blend of both of our first names Shaquita (S), Alexandria (A) and the J is from us sharing middle names that start with the letter J.
3. What has been one of the most difficult aspects of being a business owner? What do people not see or not think about as part of your responsibilities?
One of the most difficult aspects of being a business owner is the funding to start the business and maintain the business. Typically, funds for businesses are from self-funding, family, friends, or loans. S&A j Candle Co, has been fortunate to have funding from a variety of financial resources, however as a business owner you have to prepare for the unknown. What people do no see or think about as part of business responsibilities, include the upkeep of the business website and funds for the site, products, inventory, and sales and use tax. Lastly, when there are no profits, personal funds have to be available as a part of the budget to maintain the business, but there are great outcomes.
4. What has been the best part of starting your own business? What makes it worth continuing this journey?
The best part of starting my own business is being able to channel into creativity. Creating candles is a fun journey because you have the opportunity to blend fragrances, choose the look of the products, set the pricing according to the profit you aim to earn, etc. Seeing our candle friends’ reactions after purchasing products is a refreshing and wonderful feeling. Selling unique products that are different from the mainstreams such as Bath and Body Works is what makes this journey worth continuing.
5. What advice would you give to new business owners or those interested in starting their own business?
Always have a plan and update it accordingly. Research the business that you want to start and the startup tools and resources needed. Often times, individuals encourage business owners to apply for an LLC. Having an LLC is great and necessary, but there are other responsibilities that are a part of the business. Business owners have to be responsible for quarterly finances, tax information, receipts, products, expenses, etc. My advice would be to ensure that you are financially ready for the LLC prior to applying, and have a firm foundation for your business. I would also advise business owners to reach out to other established business owners for advice and guidance.
6. Where do you see Black-owned businesses dropping the ball?
Since S&Aj Candle Co is a Black-owned business we strive to support and uplift other Black-owned businesses. Not to categorize all Black-owned businesses together, but professionalism is key. There have been many comparisons from community partners and supporters that notice differences in businesses. As a Black-owned business we have to stand firm in our vision and goals for our business. In efforts to do that, we must remain professional when obstacles are in our forefront and when individuals appear to be unsatisfied. Ultimately, if we have provided our best effort that is all we can do!
7. How could the Black Community do more to support Black-owned businesses? How could we better support you?
The Black community can do more to support Black-owned businesses by attending and supporting local vendor events, researching products from local businesses prior to shopping commercial and returning if satisfied. S&Aj Candle Co can be supported by following on social media which allows individuals to catch local discounts, new scents etc.