We had the good fortune of connecting with Erica Parham and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Erica, how has your work-life balance changed over time?
Balance is so so important! As entrepreneurs we feel that we have to work literally 24/7 to make our dreams happen, but in reality burnout is really right around the corner. I was a strong believer of working all the time, I was working on my business from home, whether it was making candles in my garage, designing labels, taking photos of my work, or answering emails it never ended. It wasn’t until it was a day before my birthday that I was in the hospital for unexplainable high blood pressure, I knew what it was from, stress! At the time my husband was deployed for 7 months, and I was also homeschooling my three children due to COVID-19, so I was pretty familiar with burning the candle from both ends. At that point I knew I needed to slow down, create boundaries and take care of myself.

I always felt that there was no perfect balance, but having that health scare really put things into perspective for me! So I moved my business out of my home into a warehouse space, hired contractors to do things that would take the pressure off of me, like customer service, photography, etc. That has allowed me to create a healthy balance between my home and work life. I am more present within my family life, and looking back I thought I was juggling it all so perfectly but it was not.

This new found peace and balance that I have now I would not trade it in for the world! As entrepreneurs we need to focus on what our calling is, and find others to fill the role of the things we need help with!

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I started my company back when I used to suffer from migraines from other candles, it wasn’t until I started to research and realize that a lot of candles sold commercially contain so many toxins that can cause health problems such as migraines and respiratory issues. Since I suffered personally I wanted to change that, and create candles that weren’t overwhelming to the senses but also were safe to burn in your home.

At the start of my business I was still working as a nurse, so I would make candles during my off time mainly at night when my children were sleep. I’d then take the candles that I made and give them to my coworkers to test, and they eventually became customers. Once I knew I had candles that other people enjoyed I began selling at events and online.

Its amazing to know that I started a successful business from my kitchen, making a few candles at a time and to fast forward to today 3 years later, I have a storefront, employees, and a warehouse! It has not been easy at all, each milestone also had an equal amount of stress and hardships to accompany it. I always knew that this business would be something bigger than me, which is why I will never give up! I’ve learned to holdfast to your dreams, not to let others derail you because they will try! On the outside looking in, it seemed silly to give up my nursing career of 13 years “to just make candles” but I knew otherwise. I’ve also learned to stay focused on your goals, don’t compare to others because doing so will only slow you down and get in your head! And my last biggest lesson, is to stay authentic! I realized that my brain and creativity is what sets me apart from every other brand, use those ideas that you have and make your brand your own!

My main objective is to uplift women, I want women to know that you can make those crazy dreams come true! Our shop features 31 women owned brands, and those products vary from soaps to drink mixers. I really want people who come into my shop to know that they aren’t just supporting my dream but others as well! Its a pretty amazing feeling.

Besides our retail side, you can also come in and create your own non toxic candle! You can customize your candle from start to finish, you can choose up to three fragrances, choose from 20 different jars, and you can also name your candle! Its such a fun experience and you will leave with your candle the same day! We also offer virtual candle making as well!

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I’d recommend they check out Selden Market, it’s a super cool “mall” made of ONLY small businesses, each shop having its own unique flair and offerings!

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Alexandrea Mitchell played such a pivital role in my brands success, she helped me shift my mindset to know that you can have a thriving business and a personal life. Taught me that mindset is everything! She also jumped in to help me open my shop right in the middle of a pandemic, she is definitely my right hand in it all!

Website: www.sugarandgrace.co

Instagram: www.instagram.com/sugarandgrace.co

Other: www.candleboss.co

Image Credits
Mojofoto Co. Reed & Associates

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