My tale begins my senior year of high school in 1989. I had taken some college classes during my senior year, which had given me college credits so I already had enough credits to graduate. However, by law I had to stay on campus until first dismissal, so I had to take one more class. I chose an art class thinking, “This will be an easy class and just might be fun.” My plan after high school was to attend Manatee Community College for my AA degree then move on to Florida State University to major in Criminology -- art was the farthest thing from my mind.
During my high school art class, the teacher started noticing my work and made a recommendation that I should think about a career related to art. I thought she was nuts.
That next fall, I started my classes at MCC. My mom had attended an art show at Ringling College of Art and Design. She was so impressed and thought the show’s work reminded her of the work I did in my one, lone art class. She took me to see the show and I was intrigued. I thought to myself, “Wow! This place is incredible.” I had never thought of a career associated with the arts.
My mom looked into me applying to Ringling. I thought, “This is crazy...I took one art class in high school, I am not an artist. Students spend their entire high school years preparing to get accepted into such a prestigious college such as Ringling.” Long story short, I got accepted to attend the following fall.
I loved Ringling! From figure drawing to photography to graphic design - I had found my calling. After four years of intense college courses, I graduated with my Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and was on my way.
Right out of college, I was hired by a design & marketing firm and spent 3 years with them, designing all sorts of marketing materials for clients ranging from Sarasota Memorial Hospital to Teleflex. I even won a Gold Addy Award (American Advertising Award) - A GOLD ADDY is recognition of the highest level of creative excellence and is judged to be superior to all other entries in the category. I won it for my design of a product packaging piece for Seadoo gauges for Teleflex. Little did I know I would be designing packaging for my own company one day. I soon wanted to move on to a larger company and expand my horizons.
My next position came at the Sarasota Herald Tribune - I was hired in their Creative Art Department. I created specs and ad campaigns for many clients in a deadline-driven environment for 9 years. I loved creating, but designing 8 hours-a-day in front of a computer for many years was taking its toll. I started thinking of doing something else, but had no clue what or how.
I love to cook and every evening I burned candles while cooking dinner to relax from the day. My husband now, but boyfriend at the time, started noticing this black soot around our apartment from burning regular paraffin candles. He found an article online about how toxic candles are. I was so disappointed...I loved candles! Then he found an article about how people were making candles from this new wax - “soy”. This was back in 2003, when most people had no idea what soy was. I ordered a kit and starting making candles out of old vintage glass I found at Goodwill and giving them to friends as gifts. As soon as they burned them, they saw how clean the candles burned, how much longer than regular paraffin candles they lasted and with no toxic carcinogens. After that, I could not keep up with the demand!
I thought, “Maybe I’ll start a side business and I can do all the marketing and product design.” So I did. And Lolablue was born. “So where did you get the name Lolablue?” is something I get asked a lot. Lola was a nickname given to me by my best bud, Pedro, for my love of Barry Manilow. Blue was chosen for two reasons: #1 is because our planet is called “The Blue Planet” and everything we do within our company is in honor of and respect for Mother Earth, and #2 is because the sky’s the limit!
I have always been a fan of natural products and the benefits of living a clean lifestyle, so how Lolablue is perfect a fit. I continued with my career and worked Lolablue on the side. Being the adventurer that I am, my boyfriend and I took to trip to Vegas and came back married! Yes, on the spur of the moment we jumped on a scooter and got married at a Vegas drive-up window. Best time ever!! I highly recommend it.
We decided to move south to build a house and landed in North Port. We made sure to install a 220V outlet in our garage so I could make candles. Guess what?! I got pregnant! After the birth of our son, I decided to resign from my career to be home with him and slowly build Lolablue.
I spent 4 years working out of our garage while changing diapers, filling wholesale orders, and expanding our product line, all while working farmers markets on the weekends. I did most of my advertising and marketing for our products on social media back then (Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter were not around - only MySpace), but I landed a featured article about our products from an LA-based magazine and a product spot in a 2009 Pre-Oscar party Swag bags in Beverly Hills.
We moved to manufacturing space in 2011 and never looked back. I have expanded our product line into many different eco-lux products since starting with candles. I formulate every product myself after loads of research and experimental batches, and I believe in divine intervention.
We have natural body bug spray, natural soaps, sugar scrubs, body-hydrating cremes and our newest creation, natural deodorant for sensitive skin. All of our products are hand-crafted in small batches to ensure the highest quality. They are also paraben-free, phthalate-free, gluten-free, and sulfate-free.
My husband came on board with the company about 3 years ago. Currently, we have nearly 50 wholesale accounts and growing throughout the US and have plans for landing a large retailer and expanding internationally this coming year.
We have won 3 years in a row “Best of the Best” Green Business from the North Port Sun newspaper. In 2013, our products were featured in MTV Movie Awards Swag bags and we were also a Martha Stewart American Made Product nominee.
Everyday I am grateful for the opportunities that have come our way and happy to see the faces of our customers who have found healing and peace from using our products and eliminating toxins from their environment.
Along my journey to entrepreneurship I have found one quote that is so true and still blows my mind….”Follow your bliss, doors will open for you that you ever even knew existed.”