Our founder Ruchita met Jaimie at SJMADE holiday fair last November. Immediately she loved Jaimie's booth, her energy and all about her candles. She invited her to be part of our boss lady series! We truly felt that her story as a entrepreneur resonates with many of us!
Can you tell us a bit about yourself, and what inspired you to start your brand?
My name is Jaimie Lynne and I'm the founder and owner of Kumalma, a candle company that hand pours wood wick soy candles in small batches with sustainability in mind. I'm a Filipina-American woman (she/her) that was born and raised in the Bay Area. I started Kumalma right at the beginning of the Pandemic and officially launched on November 18, 2020. I entered the work force at 16 years old and worked my way through different job titles and environments, all of which helped me land a job as an Assistant Buyer. I had no college degree or any merchandising experience but my Buyer took a chance on me that I'll forever be indebted for. I was originally hired as a Merchandising Assistant and in less than 6 months got promoted to Assistant Buyer (something that's very rare, especially for someone with no merchandising/buying background). About 5 years in, we lost one of our team members and that same week business just moved on as usual, the usual meetings to discuss color palettes and shipments. It felt so unreal, as if his life wasn't valuable and his cubicle wasn't just 5 feet away from mine. That was a slap of reality that corporate life was cutthroat and that I felt like I wanted to do more. So I went back to school to pursue a career as a Dental Hygienest, took general education classes at my local community college, and after being one semester away from applying to RDH programs, I realized this is not what I really wanted to do. During this career limbo my family helped me realize how passionate I was about skincare and convinced me to look into that field. At the same time a good friend gifted me my first facial and my life was transformed. I was hooked, you get paid to talk to people about skincare and help make them feel good?! So I took a leap of faith and enrolled in beauty school and in July 2019 I became a Licensed Esthetician. I was only employed for less than 7 months as an Esthetician when the world shut down. While I was back in school I had listed different crafts I wanted to try and learn for fun and candlemaking was the first one there. So when I realized I didn't know how long I'd be home for, I watched videos, read everything I could about candlemaking and that snowballed into "I think I can start a candle business." Everything started to make sense. Growing up my mom and I were obsessed with candles, we would walk to Serramonte mall where they had a candle store and that's what we would do in her free time. She even got me the beeswax candle kit where you roll different colored wax sheets with a cotton wick in the middle to create a pillar candle. Remembering these stories fueled my passion for this brand even more. For the first time ever, I felt like my life has come full circle.
As a founder, what does your typical day look like?
A typical day for me looks like waking up, letting my 15 year old dog out, drinking water, getting dressed for the day, and going straight to the computer to check emails & dm's. Every day varies since I'm a one woman show, but generally, I try to focus on admin work in the beginning and then if i'm making candles or packing orders, I'll do that after working on the computer for a couple hours. When I need a pick me up, I take a break and make myself green tea or black coffee. After logging in a couple more hours of work on the computer, I eat my first meal between 1pm-4pm and cap it off with a matcha latte. If I have to drop off orders at the post office, this is usually the time I do that and then run any other errands I need to after. I start getting dinner ready and if I still have alot of work to do, I'll put in a couple more hours of work or hang out with my husband before we get ready for bed. I am extremely grateful to be able to work on my own terms and create a flexible schedule, but there are times when I wish I was able to "clock in and clock out". As a business owner, you're never really clocked out (as I finish this interview on vacation).
When you thought about this brand, what was your first “Aha moment”?
My first "Aha moment" couldn't have happened without my husband Jeremy's help. I had just locked down the idea that I was going to make candles and start a small business and had to figure out a name. When I became an esthetician, I daydreamed of having my own studio/business, being my own boss, finding a place to make my own and decorate it how I want. I was always thinking of different names and seeing if anyone else had it, so when it came down to thinking of a name for my candle business, I already had some ideas or knew how to figure out the name. For two weeks straight, I was googling different words and calling or texting my mom to see what Tagalog words would work because I wanted to pay tribute to my roots as a Filipina. I would wake up in the middle of the night and think of a word and google it, only to not give me that spark. After two weeks of nonstop pestering my mom and husband, one evening my husband simply asked me, "what about something calm?.. what does calm translate to in tagalog?".. My "aha moment" had just occurred, I called my mom to confirm translation and pronunciation, and everything since then has just fallen into place.
What does success mean to you?
What success means to me is having the financial and creative freedom to build the brand that I envision.
How did You handle adversity and doubt? Specially when you started this brand
Truthfully, I was barely able to handle adversity and any doubts. I couldn't have made it this far without the support of my family and my friends. Being a small business owner can feel so lonely in the beginning, not many folks understand that you have to do it ALL, from creating the vision and then figuring out how to make it happen. Unless you have the finances to easily do so, you're forced to be even more creative when you have a smaller budget. I learned to lean on my friends and family for support, to hear my crazy ideas, and tell me if they don't like something, or if I'm doubting what i'm doing, they're there to help me out. It's hard to pull yourself out of a dark place, but having a solid support system has definitely help me overcome so much more than they know.
What were 3 things you wished someone had told you about being an entrepreneur?
1.) It can get lonely, but it doesn't have to be. Put yourself out there and meet other small business owners, same industry or not. There are so many folks willing to help and be a support in some way, shape, or form. 2.) Test the waters first, don't get too crazy with buying stuff and trying to do it all. Pace yourself, being an entrepreneur is a marathon, not a race. 3.) Learn to put up boundaries (in your personal life and within your business). You don't have to work 24/7. Your mental and physical health comes first. NOTHING business related is really urgent. Take that break, don't respond to DM's right away. Technology has made us way too easily accessible and has made folks feel entitled to your time and energy. We need to take that back and protect our energy.
Since we are beauty brand, our readers will be interested to know, what's your morning & night time skincare rituals?
My morning routine includes washing my face with a cleanser, drying off, spraying a rose water toner, (spot treatment serum if I have any active breakouts) hyaluronic acid serum, a thick moisturizer, massaging a facial oil (my go-to is a rose hip oil blend) all over, and most importantly an SPF (even if i'm staying indoors all day). My night time routine includes a precleanse with an oil, cleanser, drying off, rose water toner, vitamin c serum (currently on the hunt for a good retinol), vitamin c nighttime moisturizer, and facial oil again. As an esthetician, this is my most basic routine, I have alot of fun tools and gadgets that I use occasionally or to change up my routine.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I used to have my life planned out, vision boards everywhere for everything, until the pandemic hit. Everyone's life has just been turned upside down. COVID has made it extremely difficult to plan ahead and picture the next few years. However, if i'm being hopeful and still on the same track, in 5 years I want to have a physical location open and sustaining comfortably with employees (a goal is to hire my friends and family to be able to do something they love and enjoy). In December 2018, I drew out my "dream biz" on my notes app of my phone and refer back to it occasionally to remember my goal. It's so funny to see that despite everything that has happened, and the fact that I didn't know I'd be starting a candle business at that time, somehow Kumalma has fallen perfectly into that plan, as if my past self already knew.
One golden nuggest from you, what's one piece of advise you give who wants to start its own entrepreneurial journey?
Mute the noise and focus on your own journey. When you follow other people in the same industry, you start to compare yourself and your journey, and your business starts to get influenced by others, which can have good effects, but you start going down a path you weren't intending on going down. People will always say "why do ___, when there's already so many ____?". There's only one of you, and when you stay true to yourself, no one can duplicate you and your business. There's an audience for everyone and every niche. The right people will find you.
Name 2 skincare/personal care products which you can't live without!! (your go-to products for selfcare)
A good facial oil and a moisturizing SPF.