We had the good fortune of connecting with Alyssa Caverley and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Alyssa, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
I have been in journalism and media for over 10 years! When the pandemic hit and we were forced to reevaluate how we were going to produce our shows, we had a few weeks where we were not releasing any new episodes and there wasn’t a lot going on. As part of one of my assignments as a journalist, I was sent to Paris to do a story on fragrance houses and how they work/their influence on Parisian culture. While in Paris, I learned the intricacies of fragrances and decided to put that knowledge to the test by making candles and mixing the scents myself. From there, my husband made an off-handed comment about turning it into a business. I brushed him off and said that I didn’t have enough guts to start my own business — too many unknown variables! But the more I thought about it, the more the idea started to appeal to me. I host a podcast called ’80 on the Dollar’ that focuses on female entrepreneurs and many of them have the same message — if you’re scared, just take it one step at a time, but make the leap and don’t look back. That’s exactly what I did! I took it one step at a time with a lot of trial and error and after about 5 months of prepping, I launched Soirée Candles! As the manufacturer, marketer, social media manager, bookkeeper, and supply chain manager, there are a lot of things to juggle at the same time, but I am learning every day and I just keep putting one foot in front of the other, taking it one step at a time.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
I am relatively new to the world of entrepreneurship. So far it’s been exhausting, exhilarating, and so rewarding. I have learned more about myself and my resilience in the past 6 months than probably the last five years combined. Soirée Candles was born from a combination of a love of beautiful fragrances and the need for an artistic outlet in Hermosa Beach, California. Soirée comes from the French word for “evening”, evoking a sense of peace and relaxation when unwinding from a busy day. We follow the very simple, yet critical, principles of creating clean and environmentally-friendly products, especially when it comes to our fragrance oils and scents. Our fragrances combine essential oils with other natural scents to produce rich aromas. While finding clean, non-toxic candles that are both beautiful and affordable was a challenge, we conducted extensive research before ultimately choosing coconut wax for our products. Many natural hand-poured candles use soy wax, but we discovered that the scent throw was not nearly as strong and the wax did not boast the perfect finish. It took countless hours of trial and error to perfect the process and what has resulted is the optimal burn rate and fragrance throw. The thing that sets us apart is in the naming of the candles! I was coming up with generic names when I first started and a marketing executive pushed me to think deeper, so I came up with the concept of creating scents that “ignite your personality”. I wanted each candle to connect with the consumer, not only through the fragrance, but also through the names. Getting to where I am today was a lot of trial and error – evening literally filled with blood, sweat, and tears! It was not easy and I made quite a few missteps, but it’s been a pretty smooth ride since I first started in September. I’ve been invited to join pop ups across Los Angeles and Soirée Candles is in about 15 boutiques across Southern California. I was not one to take risks, but so far, this is the best risk I have ever taken! I’m so glad I took the advice of all the people who I have interviewed on my podcast and just “went for it.” It goes to show that a girl from Canada, moving to City of Angels to pursue a career in journalism, can apparently find happiness making candles!
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I have lived all over Los Angeles. I’m currently based in Hermosa Beach, which is part of the South Bay, but I lived in West Hollywood (the center of the LA entertainment universe for almost 10 years). There is so much to see and do, both in the city, and just outside in Southern California! My 7 day itinerary (assuming Covid is not a thing!)
Day 1 – Arrival drinks and dinner at The Eveleigh on Sunset Blvd. It’s not one of the obvious choices, but I love the atmosphere and the food is good! Plus, it’s right on the sunset strip, so easy access to plenty of other places for an evening out!
Day 2 – Explore West Hollywood/Hollywood – yes it’s cliche, but every single one of my friends have wanted to at least *see* Hollywood. I would take the down Hollywood Blvd. past the Grauman’s Chinese Theater, the Kodak Theater, and finally dinner and drinks at the best Tiki bar in the city – it’s called LONO and it’s on Hollywood Blvd. Authentic vibe and the best food! I recommend the Charred Pineapple-Mango salad.
Day 3 – Runyon Canyon – it’s harder than you think and such a great view of the city!
Day 4 – Get outside the city for a day trip to temecula One of my favorite places to take people right outside LA is Temecula. It’s not as far as Santa Barbara, but the wineries are just as good! I love exploring. One of my favorite wineries is owned by a friend of mine, called Lorimar Winery. Again, the atmosphere is second-to-none and the wine is amazing with plenty of options for everyone!
Day 5-6 – (better in the winter, but honestly amazing any time of year!) This is an odd one for most, but it’s winter and I’m missing hitting the slopes. I would go for an overnight trip to Big Bear. About 2 hours South-east of Los Angeles, Big Bear Lake is cool any time of year. Skiing is pretty good and most people don’t know there are ski mountains so close to LA. If you are not a skiier, the ski lodge is a party most of the winter and you can hang out by the fire. Big Bear is also amazing in the summer months where you can rent a boat and take it out on the lake! Win win!
Day 7 – Enjoy the last day out on the beaches of Hermosa Beach! Some of the best beaches in the world – wide, white-sand, and warm! Plus, less touristy than Santa Monica and Venice! Tower 12 is right on the Pier and is a great place to grab drinks and appetizers. They have an amazing chicken sandwich!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I am not one to take a lot of risks in life and it was scary and, at times, tough getting everything up and running for Soirée Candles. My mom was such a huge force in encouraging me to do it! She believed in me and my product so much that she invested $5,000 in the company to help me get started. I will never forget that support even before she knew it was successful. My husband has also sacrificed a lot, both in terms the time it has taken away from our relationship and the physical space I have taken away from our house! I will forever be grateful for his love and support as we continue on this journey with no clear path to success (except the one in my head!)