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Talking Shop With The 9-Year-Old Founder Of A Kid-Powered Candle Business

talking-shop-with-the-9-year-old-founder-of-a-kid-powered-candle-business

Name: Lily Harper (who runs the business along with her mom, Chloe)

My business: Lily Lou’s Aromas

Products: Wax melts, room sprays, and candles

Year founded: 2021

Based in: Vancouver, BC, Canada

Why I became an entrepreneur:

Lily: My mom and I love wax melts and candles. I had an idea one day to make them ourselves. I started to be homeschooled because I was bullied at school and because of COVID. One of the ways I learned best was through creating a shop. 

Chloe: When we took Lily out of school, we realized that studying from a book was really hard for her. She wanted to just get up and run around and do things. I called my mom and she said to me, “Build boxes, make a pretend store. Just learn through play.” So we did.

What we wanted to be able to do with homeschooling was lean into her interests in a particular moment. If she wakes up and says, “Today, I want to make candles,” we’re like, “OK.” We kind of run with it and hold her hand through the process.

How I got started:

Lily: Our business was just an accident. We didn’t really mean to. We were just making and doing stuff. And then somebody was like, “Hey, I really want to buy your product. Can I have it?” Soon I got orders, and then more orders, and then really big orders came in. It just happened.

Chloe: We thought maybe we should see if we can make a website. Shopify came up and we were like, “OK, let’s see if we can do this.” Lily was the one who sat down and went through all of the tools. If a nine-year-old can navigate how to build a website, anyone can.

A candle in an iridescent cut glass jar is arranged among grapefruit slices and flowers

My favorite part of running my business:

Lily: All of it! I like to make stuff. I like to organize stuff. If my mom is off track, I’m like “Do this, this, and this.”

Chloe: She holds me accountable.

How I overcome obstacles:

Lily: Mistakes happen! Sometimes we run out of vessels or when they get delivered, some get smashed. But when we need a certain order now and we need those types of vessels, we can’t order more. 

Chloe: Lily always says, “Problems aren’t problems, they’re puzzles.” I always find it really interesting working with Lily. Adults have this way of putting a wall or a problem in the way. Younger people don’t have the ability to think forward. When we come up against a struggle, Lily’s like, “No worries, let’s just keep going.” It’s the ability to believe in something—when you’re an adult, we find ways to stop that.

A kid sits on a counter surrounded by candle-making supplies

My most-used marketing channel: 

Lily: Instagram. I have a huge community there that I really never want to lose. They’re very loyal followers. Every time I launch something, they buy it. But I got reported two times for being a minor and then I got banned and I lost my whole account.

Chloe: Instagram did give the account back and said that they wouldn’t remove it anymore because it’s a business. It’s one of those things that always kind of sits with us, though. A lot of her customers come from social media but we just said to her, it’s not something that you can rely on. You need to lean more into in-person things or other channels like email marketing.

My top Shopify apps:

Chloe: The one we use for email marketing is Klaviyo. We also just moved over to Bon Loyalty Rewards & Referral for our tiered rewards system.

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shopify-business-starter-kit-for-kids We’ve created a free 44-page activity book of engaging activities and exercises designed to lead children between the ages of 9-12 through the journey of imagining and developing a business idea.

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Other tools I use to run my business:

Chloe: Hotjar is Lily’s favorite app, as it allows her to see what’s happening on the site in real time. She also designs all of her own labels in Canva.

Lily: I want everything pink and everything sparkly.

Two glass jar candles with colorful wax and labels featuring donuts

Best piece of customer feedback:

Lily: I got a review for one of my products that said this is the best candle ever. 

Chloe: We also have people who message us because they are very inspired by Lily. And they’ll say, “Now my kid has started a business.” I think Lily enjoys those ones the most. We have someone who reached out to say that their son started making bookmarks and sold them at school and that he wouldn’t have had the confidence to do it without seeing Lily do her thing.

What’s next:

Lily: My next big goal for my business is to own my own warehouse and to be in big stores like Indigo!

Chloe: We’re trying to lean more into the media side of things, getting featured in publications. Lily loves meeting people in person and they just love her. We’ll often go meet some people in some stores. She’s very focused on wholesale as well at the moment. She has big dreams of where she would like to see her candles.

How I unwind:

Lily: We do our girly night. Yesterday I was like, “Mom, we haven’t done this in a while. We need to get it done.”

Chloe: Yeah, we have a ritual where we watch Friends together. We light a candle and do manis and facials. It’s important to me as a mom to have that time with her. And mental health is really important to us as a family unit. The hustle culture of my generation and my parents’ generation is always like “work, work, work.” 

My business runs on Shopify, but I run on:

Lily: Popcorn. I go to my friend’s house sometimes to watch Stranger Things. And we have popcorn and put M&M’s in it.

The advice I’d give to other kid entrepreneurs: 

Lily: Never give up. If you truly want to do something, just go for it.

Images by Lily Lou’s Aromas

This originally appeared on Shopify and is made available here to cast a wider net of discovery.

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