How These Best Friends Started A Company With No Business Experience

How These Best Friends Started A Company With No Business Experience

Having no experience can be one of the biggest deterrents to launching a business.

In fact, 66% of millennials dream of starting their own company yet are delayed in getting started because they either think they aren’t ready or are afraid to fail.

The trouble is, you can read hundreds of books on personal development, entrepreneurial mindset, and business strategy andstill feel like you’re not prepared. If you’re not careful, “preparation” can be a merry-go-round that justifies inaction and holds you back from actually realizing your dreams.

When it comes to launching a business, there’s truly no substitute for concrete action. As Walt Disney famously said, “The way to get started is to quit talking and start doing.” Despite what you might think, you don’t actually need a ton of experience to get started.

Take it from two twenty-something best friends who launched a successful cheeky candle company over a glass of wine.

Meet Tom Jansen and Amanda Buhse, the cofounders of the Canada-based candle brand Coal and Canary. Since its birth in 2014, Coal and Canary has grown to an international sensation, starring in the Oscars’ and Grammys’ swag bags, appearing on Good Morning America, and even being endorsed by Cameron Diaz.

This week on the Unconventional Life podcast, Jansen and Buhse share how they were able to create a candle empire from what started as a simple side hobby.

Before launching Coal and Canary, Buhse and Jansen were working full-time jobs as an art director and a nurse. At the time, they never imagined their side passion for candles would one day expand to 150 stores across North America and Hong Kong.

It wasn’t until one evening sharing a glass of wine and doing some market research on candles that Jansen and Buhse discovered a gap in the market for candles that were catered to millennials.

Being millennials themselves, both Buhse and Jansen knew how to connect to this demographic. They understood the desires and qualities of the millennial consumer that motivated them to make purchases.

“The millennial wants to know who you are. They want that human connection with the producer and the product… They like things that are luxurious but don’t cost a lot of money, and they’re very aesthetically-focused. They love to have interesting and eclectic things and they’re not afraid of things that have personality,” says Jansen.

Buhse and Jansen developed their candles with the millennial in mind. They sourced their candles from the highest quality materials, priced them affordably, and marketed them beautifully with professional photos.

“It just slowly started taking off,” Buhse says. “We started posting photos on social media, one thing led to another and it grew dramatically.”

According to Jansen and Buhse, over 95% of their new customers come from Instagram. Their account features eye-catching photos with a signature color scheme and sassy captions highlighting the fun-loving nature of the two founders.

“It’s not such the traditional way of doing business. It’s definitely more fun and lighthearted, not taking yourself too seriously. The millennial consumer really appreciates that when they see your product in stores they know you,” Jansen remarks.

The defining feature of the Coal and Canary brand is undeniably its personality. Its candles feature quirky names like “That Hot Barista,” “Great Complexion and No Reception,” and “110 Calories.”

The duo claims the final ingredient to their success was an optimistic mindset and a willingness to adapt along the way. For example, when customers reported their candles were arriving broken, Buhse and Jansen reinvented their manufacturing and packaging strategy rather than giving up.

If you are one of the 66% that has been itching to start a company but you still haven’t taken the next step, take a page out of Buhse and Jansen’s story—the thriving business you desire could be much closer than you think.

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