We had the good fortune of connecting with Liz Lehman and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Liz, what’s the most important lesson your business/career has taught you?
The most important things I have learned in my business is that it is ok to let go of perfection, and that from failure comes growth. Prior to becoming an entrepreneur, I was an anesthesiologist for over twenty years. My perfectionistic self had unconsciously chosen a career where your patient pays the ultimate price for your failings. In my transition to a business owner, I found that my fear of not doing something perfect was holding me back from trying. Getting creative, getting messy and going for it are the hallmarks for a successful start up. When I transitioned Aluminate Life from a kitchen experiment to a business, I had no idea what I was doing. There was a lot of Googling, and making things up as I went along. To make it through this trial and error process, I needed to accept my shortcomings. I soon realized that I was only operating at the highest level of my knowing. I didn’t know what a PO was, how to send an invoice, or that not every essential oil is candle compatible,( this resulting in the loss of several hundreds of handcrafted candles). I decided not be to hard on myself, I didn’t know what I didn’t know. And from this place of self compassion, I relaxed that need to be perfect, and I know that failure is not a bad thing, it means I tried.
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 became an accidental entrepreneur. While sitting on a frozen water bottle nursing an injury I came across blog on making candles. I had always loved candles, and in researching the process, I was appalled to learn about the heavy metals and chemicals used in the candles I had been burning around my family. I set out to make a better product. I knew I wanted to create an all natural, sustainable candle with a purpose. As a doctor I wanted these products to improve mind-body healing in your sanctuary, both body and home. So I use a coconut wax blend in my candles,(a more sustainable crop than soy), cotton wick, essential and natural oils for fragrance and hand pour them into reusable barware glasses. To enhance healing I choose to put crystals in all of my products. I select a crystal that works in tandem with the specific essential oils in each item to maximize wellness. When I hear that my customers sleep better after using my SLEEP essential oil, or that they feel centered and calm after burning my CALM candle, I know I am helping to heal people and this is very satisfying. In transforming from a kitchen experiment to a business there was a lot of trial and error. My first packaging was black cardboard paper tubes with rose gold labels. I thought they looked pretty, but apparently most spas don’t want black colored retail…who knew? I learned that not every essential oil is burn compatible when friends had their candle wax combust! There is something called a flash point, the temperature at which a substance ignites, and I learned that the rules of science also apply to candles. Most importantly, after a year in business, I finally accepted that I was the face of the business. As a bit of an introvert, I was naturally more comfortable behind the scenes. I learned that business is about establishing an intimate relationship with your customers. People can buy a candle anywhere. I want my customers to know they are buying a handcrafted candle, developed by a physician to improve their wellbeing, and that Dr Liz supports their wellness journey.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Some of my favorite things to do include bike riding down the Santa Monica Pier, hiking Temescal Canyon, and stand up paddle boarding at Marina Del Ray. I love bookstores, the more unique the better, so The Last Bookstore is a great place to visit. A zen visit to the Japanese garden is a perfect spot to reset. Malibu is always a must do!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I need to give a big shoutout to my husband Gary. When I started this candle making kitchen experiment, he gave me space to create. When the kitchen was taken over with pots of boiling water baths, pitchers of candle wax, and boxes of cardboard packaging he gave me encouragement. When I said I wanted to cut back on my hours as an anesthesiologist to start a business he gave me his full support. After a full day at his job as a busy General Surgeon, he will help with wick trimming, candle labeling, or manufacturing essential oil rollerballs. Most importantly, Gary believes in me, and supports me as I grow and transform myself and the business. He deserves much credit, and I promise one day the pallets of wax and glasses will get out of our garage!