A job loss during the lockdown of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 drove Gainesville resident Reggie Nelson to his true passion – handcrafting his own vegan soy candles.
Nelson, 38, is the owner and founder of the Daily Burn Candle Studio, a small black-owned business specializing in hand-made vegan soy candles.
A big candle lover, Nelson was always happy to receive candles on a special occasion from his wife, Elena.
“Every year I would buy him literally like a case of Bath & Body Works candles because he loves candles so much, and it was always a lovely gift for him at Christmas,” said Elena Nelson.
Reggie Nelson had been an adjuster for Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co. for a decade before leaving in 2019 to work for a lawyer for six months.
He returned to the company in 2020 until the start of the pandemic and his office was closed.
“It changed the dynamic of everything… working from home gave me a lot of flexibility and freedom to start thinking about things,” Nelson said.
After his wife’s encouragement to try making their own candles, the couple set about researching the market properly.
“We did a ton of research. It’s so crazy how many different types of wax you can use on a candle. We were looking for something that was profitable but also safe for the environment. Vegan soy is safe for kids and pets, and we have both, ”said Elena Nelson.
In an effort to be a more health-conscious small business, the couple began experimenting with different manufacturers that handled vegan soy.
“I realized that Gainesville doesn’t have too many natural and organic candle companies… there are people who did, but no one was really advertising vegan soy,” said Reggie Nelson.
Elena Nelson typically works behind the scenes at the company, as the couple have two young sons, Hayden, 12, and Barrett, 15 months.
“Reggie is the face of the business as I take care of more of the business side like bookkeeping, booking events for him and helping with label design,” she said. .
The couple began the process of building the candle company in January, and Reggie Nelson entered a testing phase in February and March, during which he focused on how he wanted to launch the products.
Besides vegan soy, the Daily Burn Candle Studio inventory all have a distinct name, such as a song title or citation.
Examples include a floral scented candle called Dear Mama, a lavender scented candle called Purple Rain & Lavender Keeps Me Sane, and a tobacco scented candle called Domo Arigato, Mr. Tobacco.
“After I graduated in music, I wanted to be a performer first, but I went all the way to left field and entered corporate America… I wanted to incorporate my love of music in a unique way. “said Reggie Nelson.
The Daily Burn Candle Studio launched online on April 1, and Reggie Nelson slowly started moving to local farmers’ markets to sell the candles.
Florida Vintage Market
Ray Gazzelli, 36, is the main organizer of the Florida Vintage Market, a pop-up community market that takes place in various locations around Gainesville. Small business owners are encouraged to apply to be selected as suppliers for the events.
Nelson applied and was selected, and he’s been a regular seller at the Florida Vintage Market since August.
“He’s a pretty optimistic guy… he loves to organize our events and he’s always on time… He’s a really strong seller in our markets,” said Gazzelli.
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Besides Gainesville, Nelson regularly commutes to a market in Orlando.
Newberry Farmers Market
Every Saturday from 8 a.m. to noon, Nelson sets up a stall at the Newberry Farmer’s Market.
The various candles and melted waxes have caught the eye of Michelle Pagel, a dental hygienist, who attends the farmers market almost every weekend.
Pagel, 51, began shopping for candles and experimenting with various scents.
“I really like the scents of all the candles, and they burn really well… I love her most recent from the fall collection. It’s the Red Hot Smashing Pumpkins, ”Pagel said.
Pagel now makes a regular pit stop in Nelson every weekend.
“He’s a very pleasant person to be around and he engages with his clients when they show up. I really liked his personality and hearing his story about his early days, ”Pagel said.
Reggie Nelson’s ultimate goal is to open a storefront for the Daily Burn Candle Studio and provide a date night where couples can come and make a candle together.
Nelson was inspired by the idea when he thought of his wife, whom he met at the bowling alley over ten years ago. He attributes much of the company’s success to his behind-the-scenes efforts.
“She was definitely the backbone. She does a lot for branding, and she has a big eye for that sort of thing. It’s because she pushed and encouraged me that I’m where I am now… I want to make sure she is always recognized, ”he said.
Nelson said he looks forward to November and December as he anticipates candles will be in high demand as gifts.
“This time of year we’re about to enter is when you really do most of your sales, and reviews are crucial,” he said.