I had the opportunity of interviewing the founder of Torch Illumination, Lisa Ravenel. She started Torch back in 2010 whilst she was still in college. Initially, her goal was to make enough money from the business to cover school expenses however, Torch has evolved into an artisanal candle making company that seeks to create a lasting social impact in the area of reforestation.
According to Lisa, Torch is a result of a google query for “businesses with zero startup costs”. She was determined to start and run a business she could enjoy without any huge upfront capital investments. From its early beginnings, Lisa has validated and improved her line of candles through feedback from her friends, relatives and coworkers who also became customers and ambassadors of Torch.
Candles produced by torch are handcrafted from natural soy and recycled glass containers. With the purchase of each candle, a tree is planted. This is made possible through partnership with the Arbor Day Foundation. A big differentiating factor between Torch and other artisanal candle makers is its social mission which has become a source of competitive advantage in this market. The company also emphasizes its all natural and recycled product components which is also another differentiator.
It relies on social media channels mainly Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest to interact with its customers. It primarily retails through sustainability and local themed stores in Washington State. Torch’s line of candles are also available on Amazon and its website. Torch uses social media to inspire its customer base and to inform them about new product lines and scent profiles. The company targets key decision makers for home purchases who are mainly women between the ages of 20 and 50. It also caters to weddings and other custom orders.
A successful fundraising campaign on Indiegogo was useful in broadening the customer base and encouraging trial of the candles. This campaign proved useful for Torch as it generated some buzz on its social media platforms and collected data on its customer preferences for the scents it has developed.
All in all, my interview with Lisa proved to be a great learning experience. I learnt how valuable it is to run a business you genuinely enjoy or are passionate about, oftentimes it can be the key factor to success.