Today, we’d like to introduce you to Clare Corcoran and her company, Mylana.
What’s the story behind your company?
My company, Mylana, was founded in 2010 a few months after I was unexpectedly widowed. I had made soap and candles since high school, having learned from books that my mom had helped to publish at her job. She worked on proofreading and typesetting the craft books at home, and once I found them, I was hooked. After my husband died, I was very lonely and I also needed to make some extra money. So, about 3 months later, Mylana was born. I took my company name from a World Of Warcraft character that I played, a mystical toll priestess. The start of my business was very rocky and I struggled a lot with making enough products and getting presentable photos, but I started getting orders from my mom and friends from real life and online. Three years later, I am still crafting strong and trying to expand my handmade business. During the course of my business, I have learned new crafts and added jewelry and bath salts. I am always interested in mastering new crafts and materials.
What inspires you?
I am inspired mostly by nature and some of the fantasy scenery in World of Warcraft and other video games I play. Sometimes I think about a certain character or place when I am blending my scents. I also rely on other boring and conventional means to decide what to make, like asking my customers directly what scents they would like, and often from requests I get to make a specific color or scent.
What is your favorite product to make?
My favorite product to make is candles, in particular, deep, dark, rich patchouli essential oil candles. I also like musk and spicy scents. Currently, I am out of patchouli essential oil candles, because the lighter citrus and bakery fragrances are more popular, but when I make something special, just for me, it has to be strong and sultry!
How would you describe your style in 3 words?
Colorful, rustic, simple.
In your opinion, what’s the best part of being an entrepreneur?
I enjoy having a lot of autonomy of design and creative choices. Product design and manufacturing is the most fun part, but I also love packaging items and ordering supplies and inventory. Photography and web design has grown on me, but I have to admit, I still don’t enjoy accounting or filing my taxes!
If you were to start all over again, what would you do differently?
Well, if I had the ideal start, I would have saved capital for supplies and insurance costs, so I could have offered a more upscale product, with sophisticated packaging and luxurious scents. Instead, I had to start with what I had, and constantly reinvest in my business. I didn’t even have a printer when I started. Additionally, I would have been on social media in the beginning and had more knowledge about marketing. There is a lot I learned from my online soap community and the Etsy forums in regards to marketing and pricing. Finally, I would have started out with higher prices. I didn’t think my items were very good, so I priced them cheaply. Soon, I was overwhelmed with sales from people that were buying my items, simply because they were the most inexpensive, but I wasn’t making any money to buy more supplies or equipment. In fact, I was losing money, and I had to ask my mom to buy me candle wax for Christmas so I could restock my store. Soon, I changed my prices to accurately reflect the cost of materials, and I didn’t sell as much as before, but I could finally save up for supplies and buy labels and packaging.
What’s next? Any plans for the future?
Currently, I am saving up to produce more cold processed olive oil soaps and sugar scrub bars. I also need some real patchouli essential oil back in stock! There are no immediate plans for me to sell outside Etsy at this time, because I have a difficult time keeping enough inventory in stock. If I am able to build up a bigger stock of products, I would like to open a stand alone website. E-commerce is a lot more advantageous to me than selling at craft shows or consignment, because I don’t drive due to a disability. That makes is hard to deliver to consignment stores and set up booths at fairs. With online venues, I can make everything at home and walk to the post office, or schedule a pick-up of packages from my mail carrier. Sometimes, I dream about how great it would be if someone else opened up a handmade craft shop with candles or bath and body products in my neighborhood and I could work for them and supplement my income doing all the “fun” work of creating the products, but let them worry about the insurance, taxes, capital, and accounting. Another fantasy would be to write a book about candle making or other crafts, like the ones my mom used to proofread. My biggest dream though is earning enough to own a candle and soap supply company and get to offer all the latest scents, oils, and waxes.
*** If you are a successful artisan with an online store and fabulous products and would like to be “In the Spotlight”, feel free to submit your info. ***