The entrepreneurial bug can bite young, and Lindsay Santos, 15, doesn’t remember a time when she did not want to start a business. She would daydream about it and even sketch out business plans and marketing ideas. There’s nothing like peer pressure as a teen, and when one of her friends started making and selling soap, Lindsay went into action.
It was the summer of 2020, and Lindsay watched youtube videos and began a trial-and-error approach to making candles. “I started with small quantities, and my parents helped me with documentation, keep things straight, what worked well and what did not work at all,” she says. “It’s a long process, the learning and the crafting. I need different wick sizes for different jar sizes, and I have learned to figure out how to make sure the wick does not burn too hot or not hot enough.”
Placing the wrong wick in a candle can cause a candle jar to explode. So taking the temperature of the candles over a period of burn time is imperative to be sure it burns at the correct temperature and speed. “If the burn is too cold,” Lindsay explains, “then the candle tunnels, and liquid wax extinguishes the flame.”
With more reading, learning and experimentation in the home kitchen, Lindsay perfected her candles, shower steamers and wax melts. Though she does most of her work in the kitchen, she also has space in the dining room and basement for storage of supplies and finished products. Her parents, Webster and Claire Santos, have been tremendously supportive. For Lindsay’s part, she picks up and puts away everything so the kitchen it neat and tidy once again for meal times.
A sophomore at Blacksburg High School, Lindsay purchases most of her supplies online, with Virginia Candle Supply one of her favorite vendors. “There was a shortage of glass during covid,” she recalls, “so I had to re-test multiple times when I ordered jars I had not previously used.”
She named her business CALI for Candles and Luxury Items. All her products are crafted with soy wax from American-grown soy beans. “They are environmentally-friendly, burn cleaner and have a longer lasting life,” she explains.
One of the greatest challenges in any business is sales and marketing. For this generation, social media comes as naturally as brushing your teeth. Lindsay found it interesting and picked it up quickly. She sells nationally on Etsy. Handcrafted local items are in demand, and Blacksburg Books reached out to her for a supply of candles to sell on consignment in its bookstore.
She has products for sale sometimes at Hethwood Market, and she supplies decorative things for gift boxes to Burg Box and In Focus Interiors. The latter was featured in our MarchApril issue, and Burg Box started when people fussed about not coming to Blacksburg for Virginia Tech football or other events during covid. Pals Jennifer and Dana, VT alumnae who love all things VT, Blacksburg and NRV, decided to “send Blacksburg to them.” What started as a simple idea has evolved into a real business that supports “shop local” and features seasonal products. Lindsay has made wee candles in beer bottle caps and real candles to be included in “Burg Boxes”. [www.theburgbox.com] Dancing has been a big part of Lindsay’s life since she was 3 years old. She joined a dance competition group three years later, and continues dancing in ballet, jazz, contemporary, lyrical and lots of other styles. She spends 10 or more hours per week in dance – lessons, practice, competition, etc. She runs a business, handcrafts her products, does her homework and enjoys her family and friends and the variety in her life.
Text by Joanne M. Anderson
Photos by Christy Wallace