Frères Branchiaux Candle Co. is an award-winning artisanal candle company based in the Washington, DC Metro area. We three brothers, Collin (14), Ryan (12), and Austin Gill (9) created and manage our growing company. In October 2017, we wanted more allowance to purchase video games. Our mom told us that we had maxed out our toy allowance and to either “get a job or start a business” if we wanted more money. We decided to start a business! Mom attended a candle-making workshop and then taught us how to make candles at home. We now combine our own scents with the finest fragrance oils, hand pour each candle in small batches, and have even added accessories such as room sprays and diffusers.
All of our candles are made using domestically grown soy wax blend, cotton core wicks, fine fragrance oils, and apothecary inspired packaging. The small-batch creations are made of the finest ingredients, including clean burning wax and keenly combined fragrance oils. Our candle jars are finished off with a simple kraft label and black lid.
As well as earning money, we donate 10% of our profits to area DC homeless shelters. In 2019, we donated close to $10,000 to help house, feed, educate and provide mental health services for those who are battling homelessness and/or transitioning from homelessness. As a result we, affectionately known as “The Candle Boys,” have been featured in the Washington Post, Good Morning America, CBS Evening News, Black Enterprise, Ebony and numerous media outlets. We have also been awarded the the DC Chamber of Commerce Youth Entrepreneur of the Year award, Role Model Award, Best of DC, Youth who Make a Difference Award, and Excel Youth Mentoring Youth Entrepreneur of the Year finalist.
Our motto is Smell It, Light It, Love It!
We started at home and now we are looking for a warehouse facility to do more manufacturing, store inventory, and expand our shipping. We started selling our candles at our baseball games and football games. We sold out at all of our games, so our Mom signed us up for our first vending event, the NPR All Crafts Considered Holiday Fair. We sold out!
At that point, we knew we had a product that everyone could love. We continued to sell at vending events and met a customer who helped us land our first retail stockist. Through more vending and customer word of mouth, we gained more retail stockists. We then upgraded our marketing, product labeling, and packaging to be more retail ready. It worked! We are now in over 50 retail locations, Macy’s online, and are launching in Whole Foods this summer. We have also provided co-branded corporate gifts for Facebook, Playstation, Instagram, Google, Hilton Hotels, Marriott Hotels, and many more.
We have over 11,000 online customers and our customer base has grown exponentially year by year. We have used Klaviyo engagement funnels to welcome, nurture, and educate current customers—and to win back our past customers. We are growing day by day because of our inspirational family journey, our quality products, and our contributions to the community. We estimate that 3X growth this year and only hope to grow at the same rate or better each year.
Top 3 Elements to Growth
The top 3 key elements to our brand’s growth are:
1. Interesting and engaging emails: we send out emails about our family journeys, our non-business activities like sports, video games, and vacations. We also send sales emails, new product emails, and vending info.
2. Consistent and relevant media exposure: we have been fortunate to be “discovered” by numerous national and international media outlets. With each TV spot, newspaper article, website post, and social media shout out, we have consistently grown our audience
3. Quality products: Customers continually rave about our products for the lush and unique smells. Not only do they reorder and support us when we vend, they recommend our products to their friends, family, and businesses.
How you would invest the $25K
We would invest in a warehouse facility for increased manufacturing. We would be able to expand our product offerings, serve more customers, and expand more into the retail market. Also, we plan on hiring clients from the partner organizations that we sponsor that serve the homeless community. Getting a warehouse would be a life changer to us. If we won the $25,000, our company will grow beyond our wildest dreams; we will be able to employ local Washingtonians who are experiencing homelessness; and provide encouragement to other families and also to African-American boys to be persistent in success–no matter how many times you fail.
Vote for The Gill Family and Frères Branchiaux Candle Co. here: https://www.klaviyo.com/ownedgrowthstories
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