PERFECT PRESENTS: MER SEA.
I have been so in love with our new Mer Sea candle for the past couple of weeks and I can't wait to share this lovely company with you! A few weeks ago, I attended the press preview of the San Francisco Designer Showcase and received a candle from someone! Honestly, I was walking around talking to all of the designers and their pr contacts that I didn't quite see who handed me the candle!
When I got home and opened the candle I was surprised that I hadn't heard of Mer Sea before, especially since I love discovering new candle and lotion companies. I did a little research and was able to connect with Lina, one of the co-founders the Mer Sea team. I always love hearing the story of others and how they got their company started so I wanted to share the story of Mer Sea and introduce you to my favorite candle in the world- I always have it burning!! I also learned that Lina is a local bay area gal and went to Carondelet in the east bay!
Also, I have to share, funny enough, that the Saltaire Sandbag Candle is the only candle that Jesse and I both agree smells good! I also loved the packaging of the candle, it was unlike anything I had seen before. It came in a darling canvas bag with a small book of matches attached-- genius!
Mer Sea is definitely my go-to for candles now for our home, as well as for gifts. Enjoy the wise wisdom of the Mer Sea co-founders below.
Tell me a little bit about how you started your company Mer Sea.
Timing. It's all about timing. My partner, Melanie Bolin, and I had careers in our early days and took time off to raise our kids. Our children grew up together at the same school, giving us the chance to become friends first. Independently of each other, we were both seeking to dip our toe back into the working world. I was going through a massive soul-searching expedition to find what I wanted to do when I grew up. My kids were in school until 3:30 which left a lot of time to ponder the meaning of my life beyond the carpool line.
Melanie, unbeknownst to me, was having her own life review but attacked it head on with a business plan. She always dreamed of creating her own brand (after years of working on other brands, back in the day) and had already come up with the name, the feel, and the first product: a candle in a bag.
I happened upon this information one day while at her house working on something entirely different and asked... would you want help with that? I saw my ray of light. Less than a year later we launch Mer-Sea!
What was your first product? What have you added over the years?
Our first product was a candle in a bag, we had 6 scents all in crisp, white canvas bags. We quickly added more candles, bath and body, and the crowd favorite, our versatile travel wrap.
This fall we will be offering a new Luxe Collection and expanding our soft goods to include more travel sweater shapes and really sharp travel accessories made from metallic splashed leather hide. I'm obsessed with our fall collection!
Where are your items sold?
We are sold in independent retail locations all over the US. Go to our website www.mersea.com to see who is close to you. We are also online and we have a unique collection that we developed for Anthropologie that will hit stores June 1st, so be sure to check that out!
What is your favorite product?
Oh, that is hard. My favorite candle to burn is our agate coaster candle in Kismet. It is our newest scent...and when you work around scents all day, you can get tired of them, so new is always good! My favorite bath and body scent is Boheme because I love vanilla. I'm using our vitamin E Misting Oil in Boheme every day. You don't have to worry about it clashing with your perfume. And, my favorite wrap is (now that it is summer!) is our cotton tassel wrap. I love to wear it as a scarf and if it gets cold inside I can put it on as a wrap. I also love using it as a sarong at the pool!
What advice do you have for female entrepreneurs?
If you are a budding entrepreneur and have not quite started yet, I would say:
1. It's not for the faint of heart.
To be successful takes time and dedication. Make sure you are ready for the ride! It's hard to focus on, and be well at, multiple things at once...i.e., my tennis game has gone to hell. Are you ready to give up things for your idea?
2. Ask for help.
I'm lucky that I have a partner to share the load with. Even then, we really didn't know the ins and out of the industry. Don't be too proud to ask for advice. There are plenty of people who will share their sources and their mistakes. I'm happy to give people the names of our trusted vendors - our philosophy has always been "there is plenty to go around." Sharing information and collaborating is key to success.
3. Don't be afraid to start to the "wrong" thing.
I always thought that, one day, I would be struck by THE IDEA. I knew I wanted to start something, but I had this false notion that there was only one thing that would work, and that the universe would make it really obvious what that was. Well, I'm here to tell you, that is false. There were a dozen things I could have started that would have been successful. Some better than others I'm sure, but the key is just taking a step forward. It might not be your best idea or your last idea. You may have to be flexible and change things. But once you start, it's a lot easier to change directions.
4. Start small while dreaming huge.
That was our philosophy. We began with a 15K investment. We work with suppliers that allow us to order in small volumes, even if that reduces our margins in the beginning. Let the marketplace give you feedback and respond to that. Trust me, our first candle bag makes us cringe when we look at it! The seams weren't always straight and the front label would discolor. And it didn't break us. People will give you time to improve and grow. Just listen to what they are telling you.