Monica Stanley, Owner of Thriving Online Business, Reflections of Life
Monica Stanley is a woman of faith, hard-work, and honor. She is the owner of Reflections of Life, a handcrafted remembrance candles and jewelry online business. Her custom made pieces are crafted with flowers from wedding bouquets, anniversaries, birthdays, graduations and funeral flowers. For the past 11 years Monica has diligently perfected her craft and provided products to just her friends and family. But last year the demand for her candles soared, and she began offering her creations to the public.
Keep reading to learn how Monica turned an idea into a thriving business, plus check out her advice to aspiring women entrepreneurs.
This is an interesting business concept. What inspired you to start your business?
I started my business after my dad passed away. He was a businessman and many people knew him. We received massive amounts of flowers after he passed. And I thought, What I am going to do with these?
I went to a class and got the idea of putting flowers into candles - similar to how you put flowers into glass objects. So I started making candles that have flowers embedded in them.
It’s great to hear that your product is in high demand! What makes your products so appealing?
I create every item that leaves my shop. Each item is personalized for each family with care. And really faith comes into it. I really believe [it’s appealing] because it helps people heal during a hard time. These candles and jewelry are tangible, and sometimes when you lose someone - you’re left with a hole. But if you have a tangible item you can look at it and be reminded of that person. And you don’t have to be a Christian to have a desire to be tied to your loved ones.
How do you stay competitive from other similar businesses?
There isn’t a ton of competition yet, except for some large franchises. I’m one of the first businesses making this product. I’m very specific, very detail oriented and providing great customer service is a priority for me.
How did you turn this idea into a profitable business?
I took a leap of faith. I started by making an Etsy shop and got a few orders a month. From there, I contacted a local funeral home to sell them at a wholesale price. The funeral home displayed the items to their customers and everyone thought it was so unique. It just took off. People started buying the candles for other occasions beyond funerals. As things picked up, I took it a step further and started advertising on Google for website clicks.
My father always said it takes money to make money and that is so true. I use any extra money towards advertising, brochures, or anything marketing related. I now have a solid 3 funerals and 2 wedding planning agencies that I serve. I’m also starting with Facebook advertising and my following is growing.
Did you take any outside investments to start your company? Would you recommend this strategy to other small business owners?
I didn’t go that route. I bought all my equipment piece by piece because I didn’t want any loans and didn’t want to owe anyone anything, which can be hard. If you do what I did, you’ll have to have patience because it takes time. But on the other hand, I’ve learned that you should not be afraid to ask for help. There are people out there who want to help you. And there’s no shame in going to the bank for a loan if you have the credit. Another new option is to use Kickstarter. I wish I would have jumped on that years ago. Kickstarter crowdfunding really helps to get your name out there.
How do you balance running your business and handling other responsibilities.
I use my calendar like my bible. I’m organized and use time management. I have a family and kids to feed. But I also have customers and deadlines to meet. All I can say is that it’s a well maintained circus (she laughs).
What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs?
Don’t take no for an answer and believe in yourself. You have to work hard, but trust that it will pay off. Work towards your first goal, and then use that success to push toward your second, and soon you’ll be standing there amazed, like wow ‘I did that!”
It’s a very empowering feeling once you reach your goals. And lastly, just always strive for what your heart desires.
So what’s next for Reflections of Life?
I have a lot of land. In 2018, I plan on making a building for my business. This won’t be a traditional brick and mortar - instead I’ll have a display area and a big workshop. And, of course, I’m working to get more business opportunities and to ultimately grow my team and hire staff.
How can someone order your products - or see what you offer?
Anyone interested in my products can contact me through the website, by email, phone or on social media to ask any questions and learn more about the products I sell. For the holiday season - we have 15% off all products. So if you buy more than 1 candle, you will receive additional free products as a token a gratitude.
Here’s more about Monica …
Before working as an entrepreneur, what were you doing?
I was still working in the business field, as an accountant. I have a degree in accounting and I’m good at it. But now I’m doing something that I good at but also extremely passionate about.
What do you most enjoy about the holiday season?
Hands down, my family. Every holiday season - instead of buying each other gifts, we just do fun things together. This year, we’re going to Tennessee to just get away and make memories.
If you could have lunch with any woman, who would it be and why?
I’d choose Mother Teresa. I’d love to know how she could give so much of herself so selflessly and never grow tired of that. She showed kindness to everyone and was so admirable.
What is a quote you always live by?
“No Worries” because in life there’s always a silver lining.
How do you remember your loved ones or celebrate a special occasion? Share your thoughts below!
With love always,
Shyra & Krissy