Growing a business slowly and steadily is oftentimes a good practice. Candle With a Cause has enjoyed steady growth over the past 4 and a half years and the business is now housed in it’s fifth space, a 3,000 square foot warehouse next to Actual Brewing Company and close to the Columbus Regional Airport.
“We started and have continued to run our business without any investment at all,” says co-owner Mitch Underwood. “We are always on a shoestring budget but this also shows us that we are able to grow at a sustainable, if slower, pace. It has also made it so that we became more customer service focused, which has remained a staple of the way that we do business.”
Candle With a Cause got its start as Underwood and his previous business partner Dan Kim took note of how much glass was being thrown away by local bars. Carlos Arango joined the company as a co-owner, also lending his expertise in architecture and graphic design.
“After doing his research, Dan found that less than 20% of the glass used by Ohio bars and restaurants was being recycled,” says Underwood. “He also wanted to start a business that gave back to the community in some way. Thus the idea for Candle With a Cause was born.”
The company had humble beginnings in Kim’s basement. They enjoyed working in their space in Franklinton at the 400 West Rich building where they were a part of the community. As the neighborhood became more popular, they found themselves being priced out.
“As we were looking for a new production space, Fred Lee of Actual Brewing Company contacted us and convinced us to take a look at a space next to his brewery on the east side,” says Underwood. “It was a blank space with all the potential in the world. We decided to go for it and build the space to suit our needs.”
The space was divided into a production space of 2,000 square feet and an office and retail space of 1,000 square feet.
“We wanted to keep the theme of sustainability throughout our space as well as our business as a whole,” says Underwood. “Building our space ourselves the way we wanted allowed us to do just that. Now that we have our offices built, we are significantly more productive with our time. It is amazing what a space will do for your productivity level.”
They used mostly free wood and drywall to build out their space and to add accents. Arango’s background in architectural helped with keeping the cost of the build-out low and they loved everything about building out their own space. They built much of the furniture, and Arango built a lamp and created some artwork for the space.
“It was a really cool experience,” shares Underwood.
For being located in a strip of warehouses, the retail counter of Candle with a Cause is a hidden gem. A large counter greats you and floating glass shelves hold the company’s variety of candles along the wall.
Candle With a Cause currently employs nine people and works with local breweries, distilleries, wineries, and nonprofits all over the city as they manufacture what they say are the highest quality candles on the market. In 2015, the company plans to expand into Cincinnati, Cleveland, Pittsburgh and Chicago, partnering with five or six nonprofits in each city.
“Everything that we do is philanthropically focused,” says Underwood. “Each of our candles benefits a different nonprofit organization with 25% of the net profit from the candle sale. Everything from the scent of the candle to the design of the label is designed to raise awareness for the nonprofits doing awesome work for our community.”
Being so ingrained in the community is a point of pride for Candle With a Cause.
“I feel like we are an active part of the life and breath that is Columbus, Ohio,” says Underwood.
Being in a position to offer others employment is what Underwood considers his best achievement to date. He enjoys working with his team and having interactions with customers.
“I work so hard to make sure that our business to business relationships are a constant focus,” he says. “I want to make sure that the other small businesses that sell our products know that we appreciate them and want to do everything we can to make them happy.”
Candle With a Cause has positioned themselves as more than a candle company and they strive to be part of the Benefit Corporation movement.
“We are an idea that a for-profit company can base itself on benefitting the world around it,” says Underwood. “Make a product and make the best product you can. Then take that product and find a way for it to benefit the community. If it seems like the right thing to do, it probably is. Go do that.”
For more information on Candle with a Cause, visit www.candlewithacause.com.
Do you know of, have, or work in, a creative workspace and would like to be featured in this series? If so, please contact Anne Evans.