Hello, everyone……some of you may be getting this for the third time…..for whatever reason, several people have told me they did not receive this blog posting when it was scheduled to go live (a bit after midnight, this morning). Others received it. I reposted it again around 9:45 this morning. Again, some people received it, others didn’t. There seems to be no rhyme nor reason. I’ve been in touch with tech support, which is all I can do, except to apologize for the technicality.
In the meantime, especially for those in the United States, I wish for you abundant Thanksgiving blessings.
Thank you to Emily Hodge, my guest blogger for this week. I have never had the privilege of meeting Emily. However, I met her mother, Debbie McAlear, in my Sunday School class several years ago. Now Debbie and I are in a prayer group that meets twice a month. These are some of the best mornings of the month! I learned several month ago about Emily’s family business, but first, a bit about Emily follows.
Emily received her bachelors of social work degree from East Tennessee State University. She stays busy running her two daughters and their friends to basketball practice, sleepovers, school events and church activities. Emily enjoys working out at the gym, hiking, and any type of water sports on rivers and lakes. Her favorite is finding new places in TN and NC to go tubing with family and friends.
Emily, a Texas transplant to Tennessee 16 years ago, met Brad, a Tennessee native, 15 years ago through his cousin who attended church with Emily’s family. They have two daughters, Ryleigh, age 12, and Katelyn, age 10, whose only input in the new family business currently consists of offering opinions on which scents they like best. “When they get older they can help, but right now, our goal is to be perfectly consistent on every product we sell,” Emily says.
Here’s the story of Ollie & Kate, Emily’s candle company.
It all started quite simply.
“I have always been obsessed with candles and keep at least one burning in my house all the time. I was spending a LOT of money purchasing them at a particular national chain that specializes in scented candles,” Emily Hodge says with a laugh. She admits to being “pretty picky” and wasn’t satisfied with the inconsistent quality. “I found that testing scents at the store didn’t always match the home experience. And their candles gave me headaches.”
So Emily started researching how to make candles that would hold their scent, and eliminate her headaches when burning. She looked for the cleanest burning candle that would be environmentally friendly and family-safe. She learned that candles made from soy wax met all of those qualifications.
Her initial intention was to make candles only for her personal use and to share with close friends. Sort of as a new hobby.
But feedback from her friends was really positive and she began to realize the potential in selling them. She and husband, Brad, began to develop a plan to make and market the candles. Additional supplies were ordered and they began experimenting with a variety of scents. Labels were created with a business name she had set up a couple of years earlier on a lark —“Ollie & Kate”, the names of her two dogs. She tested different containers and packaging.
“I love giving gifts,” Emily says, “but I always hated that you had to find a bag, tissue paper, or gift wrap before giving the present. I wanted to package the candles so they were ready-to-gift, nothing else needed.”
Emily and Brad’s first candles for sale were produced in their kitchen in mid- August. The approach was to not offer dozens of scents, like the national chain stores, but to instead offer a selection of seasonal scents and sell each season until the next one rolled around.
The first collection consisted of Grandma’s House (think baking), Caramel Corn, Bobbing for Apples, and one that will be continue to be offered year-round, It’s My Party (think birthday cake!). Two additional fall scents were added in October—Pumpkin Crunch and Drunken Apples.
On September 1, 2020 the website and Facebook accounts went live and orders started coming in. “It happened pretty fast really,” Emily says. “We started with offering only local delivery. We had many requests from friends and family out-of-town so we moved up our plans to add shipping through the website. We now ship to all 50 states, while still offering local delivery.”
Scented wax melts were also added to the line in October, featuring one package for $4 or 3 for $10. “The holiday wax melts will be packaged for ready-made gift-giving as well,” says Emily.
Ollie & Kate candles are available through the website in an 8 oz size for $12 or a 16 oz. size for $17. Limited seasonal sampler sets with three 8-oz. candles can be purchased for $30. The first seasonal sets quickly sold out. All current offerings are listed on the website, which you can find below, including the new wax melts. You can follow Ollie & Kate on Facebook to keep up with new offerings and announcements.
Walk into the Hodge house now on a weekend and you’ll find the candle elves busily hand pouring the new scents—O Christmas Tree, Peppermint Mocha, Gingerbread Man and Cranberry Grove. Both Emily and Brad take great pride in making sure each candle is perfectly set as they finish setting the batch of O Christmas Tree candles and place on the counter to cool down. These Christmas products will launch on the website on November 15.
Emily continues, “I have always believed in promoting and supporting local businesses. I hope that people are even more intentional about supporting small businesses in this uncertain climate of COVID-19.
One of Ollie & Kate’s initial, and now repeat, customers, Bethany Jones of Erwin, says “The candles are such great scents that leave your home smelling delightful, even after they have been extinguished!”
For the first 8 weeks, all orders were taken only through the website, ollieandkate.company.site.com. But on Saturday, October 24, Ollie & Kate began a partnership with “Five One Eight” boutique on Elk Avenue in downtown Elizabethton, Tennessee, to offer the products for sale in the shop, in addition to online.
“It was fun choosing materials and designing the display shelving and then seeing our products featured in the store,” Emily says. “I’m excited about Ollie & Kate having a broader reach.”
“It’s been really fulfilling to see what can come from a simple idea. There is something so satisfying about creating quality items that other people enjoy. I’m hoping it’s an inspiration to my children as they grow up, and shows them what you can accomplish if you just get in there and do it!”
Visit https://ollieandkate.company.site to order online. And check out the Ollie & Kate Facebook page for updates and new product announcements.
Copyright November 4, 2020, by Emily Hodge and Rebecca Henderson.