Could you tell us about yourselves and what drove you each to want to become entrepreneurs?
Nick: My name is Nick Nugwynne, I am 28 years old and from Westlake Village, California. I graduated from Chapman University in 2013 with a degree in Economics. Growing up, both my parents were entrepreneurs and being around that environment and lifestyle had a huge impact on me. Both as well started product companies and I fell in love with the concept of turning an idea into a physical product. Out of college, I went to go work for my step-father’s company, The Kama Sutra Company, which is a 50 year old romance brand. There is where I really learned what it took to run a successful business. From sales to marketing and eventually finance and operations, I was exposed to the inner workings of a successful brand. After 6 years I finally decided it was time to venture off on my own and enter into “deeper waters” as my step-father would have put it. It did take me some time to get my bearings and figure out how I was going to utilize my prior knowledge to its fullest. I tried and failed at a variety of small start-ups, doing anything I could to pay rent and live a life I could enjoy. Ultimately, everything culminated at the right time and moment for myself and business partner, Ryan, to launch 7 Deadly Scents.
Ryan: I’m Ryan Boring, 33 years old and also from Westlake Village, California. I graduated from UCLA in 2008 with a degree in Economics as well. As you can see, Nick and I have a few things in common. Starting a business has always been a dream for me, in fact it even started at an early age. I was the kid in middle school selling caramel apple pops out of my backpack for a fair profit. I’ve always appreciate the concept of “being your own boss” and the goal of building something successful from the ideation stage to fully executed and thriving. I also am deeply invested in charitable giving, both through my time and through raising funds. After I graduated from college, I actually took a job running the business development for an amazing non-profit organization called Project Kindle. I actually volunteered as a camp counselor for many, many summers for their main program called Camp Kindle. After graduation, I still felt indebted to this organization and wanted to help them raise funds through grant writing, throwing fundraising events and making as many calls as possible to make sure those programs could run effectively. I knew from that moment on that when I started my own business that I would definitely incorporate a charitable aspect to the business. With 7 Deadly Scents, we did just that.
How did you first become interested in candles?
Nick: I am a HUGE fragrance guy and have always been into very unique smells. I have a pretty large collection of Eau De Parfums and naturally that has extended into candles, room sprays, fragrance diffusers and anything that I think smells unique. The beauty about candles is that they take a fragrance and fill the room with it. But they do it in a subtle way and in a sense not only fill the room with an aroma, but they can create a mood. Candles can fill a room with warmth, energy, relaxation and even love. I enjoy walking into a house and instantly being greeted by a beautiful aroma. Sometimes I may even close my eyes and imagine where that fragrance could be from and transport myself there in my mind. People often say that a certain smell reminds them of a past place or experience. With candles, we can recreate that experience to some degree and relive memories.
Ryan: I actually learned to appreciate candles later in life. As a kid and young adult, candles were decorations and I never had the desire to light one. That changed when I began to slow down and redirect my attention from advertisements and pushed on influences and more on to my surroundings and personal senses. Candles have an amazing way of bringing you back to a place or a mood in which that smell was first experienced. I can remember a mood and feeling vividly of a time I smelled a candle lit on the railing of a porch overlooking the ocean in Hawaii. If I want to remember the lodge cabin I used to stay at in Lake Tahoe, I have a candler for that. I’ve learned that we often times focus our energy on the other 4 human senses and forget about our sense of smell, one of which you could argue is the strongest sense of all. Now I can say with conviction, I’m definitely a candle guy and there is no shame about that.
We both have had a deep desire to create positive change and leave the world a little better than we got here. Each of the candles have a corresponding charity organization that they benefit.
How did you choose 7 Deadly Scents as a brand name?
The name is of course a play on the well known 7 Deadly Sins and we liked the allure and mystic that has. At the same time, we wanted to bring an awareness or shine a light on an often taboo topic, sin. All of us sin and often daily, but we tend to forget what that means and how it affects our overall wellbeing. We aren’t referring to sin in a religious sense, but rather bad habits, feelings or intentions. Through the art of smell, we are able to help create environments which can combat these bad habits, feelings and emotions.
Could you tell us about 7 Deadly Scents and what the candles are all about?
The candles are intended to create a unique olfactory experience for the users and help enhance several aspects of their lives. The sense of smell is one of the most under rated senses we poses yet research shows that smell and our emotions are tightly intertwined. Through the art of smell, each candle we offer will provide the consumer a unique wellness ritual or experience. Each candle is centered around one of the 7 Deadly Sins, however in this case, these candles are not promoting the sin but rather creating a mood/environment that combats that feeling, habit or urge. For example, our Wrath candle which will be releasing soon has fragrance notes of: lavender, white jasmine, bergamot and chamomile. All of which have a calming effect and again are creating an environment to bring about calmness and relaxation. The candles come as a “kit” and include everything one would need to create their desired experience, mood and environment. The candles themselves are made of a natural soy & coconut wax blend, have a burn time of around 55 hours and are hand poured in Los Angeles, CA
Candles can fill a room with warmth, energy, relaxation and even love. I enjoy walking into a house and instantly being greeted by a beautiful aroma.
Why does the word “Ignite” seems to be so important to you?
Both of us always wanted to do something with a deeper meaning or impact. We are trying “ignite” awareness, self-love and ultimately a healthy lifestyle. We both realize how much smell plays into affecting ones mood or state of being and the fact that you have to “ignite” the candle in order to smell it just made perfect sense. Our tagline is,”Ignite your sins & collect your virtues.” What me mean by this is that your are literally “igniting” your sins when you light the candle and you are using that time to reflect on your day, connect with yourself or a partner and hopefully create an environment for growth, love and understanding.
How can our readers buy 7 Deadly Scents candles?
You can buy our candles online at www.7deadlyscents.com. We are strictly an e-commerce brand and have modeled our company this way for a variety of reasons. The main reason however is that in the traditional distribution sales model, there are several extra cost layers associated with getting your product to the end consumer. If our candle were to sell through this traditional model, they would retail for around $65 in a store. This is because everyone has to make a profit; from us the brand, to the distributors and finally the retailers. Since we are cutting out 2 of these layers, we are able to bring an extremely high quality product direct to the consumer for roughly half the cost. We mentioned the concept of fragrance and creating a unique olfactory experience for the consumer. In order to achieve this, we use very expensive fragrance that has multiple notes. We aren’t talking your typical vanilla or cinnamon scented candles here. For example, our Lust No. 04 fragrance opens with bright floral notes followed by layers of Clove, Cedarwood & Patchouli. The fragrance finishes with a Sandalwood, Amber, Musk & Vetiver base.
Your company is also deeply involved in charity. Can you please tell us more about it? How does it work exactly?
As we’ve previously mentioned, we both have had a deep desire to create positive change and leave the world a little better than we got here. Each of the candles have a corresponding charity organization that they benefit. For every candle we sell, we donate $3 directly to the corresponding charity. For example, for every Lust candle we sell, we are donating to a small non-profit based out of Los Angeles called “More than Sex-Ed” (www.morethansex-ed.org). This organization is striving to make positive changes to our youth’s sexual education and believe that “kids can learn to be responsible for their own sexuality without shame.” For our Wrath candle, we have partnered with a small non-profit out of San Diego called Kristin’s Fund (www.kristinsfund.com). This amazing organization was founded in memory of Kristin Palumbo- Longo who was killed in a domestic violence dispute by her husband on September 28, 2009. Their mission is to “eliminate domestic violence by funding prevention and education initiatives” and also have a youth based focus. Each of these organizations are doing great work within their own communities and we hope to help them achieve their goals and spread awareness about their initiatives.
What is coming up next for you both and your company?
Right now our main focus is on building our brand awareness and really pushing the concept of bringing unique sensory experiences to the consumer through the art of smell. At the same time we are very driven to “ignite” awareness about 7 amazing charity organizations across the country. We hope to be the catalyst that starts the spark and inspire others to make a difference in their own communities both big and small.
What is your advice to others wanting to start their own product companies?
Our first word of advice to anyone who wants to start their own product company is to really focus on your costs at the beginning. We think a lot of new product companies have this idea that they market & price the product first then work backwards. This ultimately leads to creating a product and business that isn’t sustainable or scaleable. A lot of young entrepreneurs have amazing ideas, but very few of them understand how to launch and then scale a business to become profitable. [Nick] My first question after I hear a pitch is always 1.what’s your cost of goods and 2. what is your net profit margin. Most of the time they can’t answer either of those questions so even though their idea may be brilliant, if they don’t know how they can build a profitable business around that idea it really doesn’t hold much weight. We would also recommend to start small and then scale. Don’t launch a new business with a dozen SKUs, start with a your best ones and then build a brand around them.
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