Everyone loves a good comeback story, and today's guest, Effie Tanji from Bodewell Living, is making it her mission to share how she’s doing it her way: fierce, fearless, and free. After co-founding and operating a small, slow fashion jewelry business for a few years, Effie decided to launch a luxury candle brand in March of 2018. It was a fast and furious trajectory from zero to explosive. Effie & Michelle discuss how she got her start, selling candles out of the back of her SUV, her commitment to giving back, and work/home balance.
LA LGBT Center
Homeless Healthcare Los Angeles
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Michelle: Hey there. I'm Michelle Sherrier, and this is the retail whore podcast, the stories and Lessons from the Life of Retail. Hey, guys, it's Michelle. Today is episode number five, and I wanted to open it up by saying thank you from the bottom of my heart. When I started thinking about doing this podcast over a year ago, I, you know, to be honest, I had no idea what to expect. I didn't know if one person was to listen to it or ten people going to listen to it. And you all have seriously shown up. And I, I can't thank you enough for your support of this little podcast that could between your shares, your likes, your reviews, your Instagram repost, like all of it is blowing my mind. So I wanted to start out with a note of gratitude. So today is episode. Like I said, number five it is Effi Tanji from Bodewell Living. If you don't know this line, please go and look it up. Right now it is a beautiful candle line that has so much love put into it. From the scents to the vessel to the names. Effie really puts her whole heart into this line. She developed this line over the course of probably the last year and a half. A good portion of it was during the shutdown, and she was doing this all the while trying to school and raise three kids while having a husband go out into the unknown every day as a first responder. So there's a lot to talk about. There's a lot to unpack. And without further ado, here's my interview with Effie from Bodewell Living. How are you? Thank you for joining me on The Retail Whore Podcast. I really appreciate because I know you are extremely busy, so any time out of your day I'm very grateful for.
Effie: Of course I am super excited. And I just want to say that I love the name of your podcast. I think it's like amazing and clever and fun and funny.
Michelle: So, you know, I mean, it's funny because people are like, are you sure you're going to use it? I'm like, you know, honestly, like I've been in retail for I'm 55 now, so I've been retail since I was 14 and it's like I've literally done every single job. So if anyone's going to be a whore about being in retail, it's me because I literally have done everything from stock to, you know, like a store manager to floor soup, you name it. I've done it. So, but thank you.
Effie: Absolutely. You're welcome.
Michelle: I ask everybody the same question. The first one, because I realized there's a common thread between everyone that is a hustler and that owns their own businesses and that are entrepreneurs. Is how old were you when you first started working?
Effie: I started working as soon as I could, and I'm trying to remember when I got my worker's permit signed by my parents. So I must have been is that 14? Is that when you're allowed to start working? I was in Pennsylvania and my first job was at Friendly's. So Friendly's. So Friendly's is a restaurant that also serves ice cream and it's a chain that I believe in the east east coast. Yeah. And I was an ice cream scooper girl.
Michelle: And this is hilarious because you are like the fourth or fifth person that have done like the girls from Rock, Scissors, paper or an ice cream. I My first job was what seal? But I ended up at Haagen-Dazs because all the cute boys came in for free samples and somebody else is an ice cream. It's crazy.
Effie: Totally. And I was so terrible at my job because I hated because it was hard ice cream. So you just scoop down in there and it was so difficult and I, I just kind of hated it. So one day I went in because I pierced my nose by myself with 14 different. Aha. Nobody knew. My parents didn't know because I hit it and I went into work because we were not allowed to have any piercings. Right. This was like one of the things and I went in with this nose like little tiny flower type thing. And the manager who was like so terrible said, Get the thing out of your nose. And I said, I don't think I'm going to. And she said, Well, then you're off the floor. And I said, Great, I'll see you later.
Michelle: Love it in true form.
Effie: I never did anything like that again, but I was just like, God, this is a miserable job. And I hated it. So then I went to go work at the Limited. Do you remember what? You remember that.
Michelle: Store? Yeah, I do. I mean, they're still around. What did you do? Oh, admitted.
Effie: I was a sales girl and I was so good at it. I loved it. And yes, the cute boys definitely stopped by pretending to buy things for their moms. Hilarious.
Michelle: Oh, my God. It's so funny, you know? I mean, it's funny being in retail forever and everything that you take away from it and how most of us have ended up in retail or some type of wholesale or some brand that ends up in the public hands.
Effie: Yeah, totally.
Michelle: Tell me about tell everybody about yourself as well as your business and your brand.
Effie: Wow. Well, I think that's a huge question. So I'll just say I am 44 years old. I grew up in Pennsylvania. As soon as I could, I got into my car and drove across country to live in L.A. I was paying for school on my own and I was going to a wonderful private college in Pennsylvania and I couldn't afford it anymore. And so I had heard about going to a state state school in California, and you could set up residency and pay like $800 a semester. Yeah. So that's what I did. And I went to Cal State Northridge, which living in Northridge was kind of like, is this L.A. It was very strange to me because I. Had no concept of Los Angeles. I thought it would be like Philadelphia or New York City or any other city that I'd been in. So I didn't really understand what L.A. was. I didn't I had never been downtown. I had never been to the beaches. I was when yeah, I was in the valley and I was sweating and I hated it. And so as soon as I graduated, I moved back to Pennsylvania. So yeah. So I lived in Brooklyn for a year and a half. I back up, I studied theater arts and got my degree in it and in acting and writing plays. I also did scenic design and costume design and makeup. So that was sort of the Oh, I am actually a designer and a writer and an actor. So in Brooklyn I acted on little stages and wow, that was fun. And then I decided to move back to L.A. and this time did not live in the Valley. There's no offense, you know, it's lovely, lovely there. But I wanted to be kind of closer to the action. And so, yeah, so I did some commercial stuff and worked with a theater company, wrote another play. It was great. I worked at Anthropologie. Oh, my God. Yeah, at The Grove.
Michelle: Oh, my gosh. Who was your manager then?
Effie: I don't know. A million. I can't remember. I can't even remember my kids names. You're asking me around, like, 15 years ago. But it was great. I loved it. I mean, I was an Anthro girl through and through. I love the discount. Basically spent my paycheck on clothes.
Michelle: That's what everybody says. That's so funny.
Effie: Totally. And then I got out of it and I worked. I'd worked in restaurants forever. I'm Greek. So I grew up like also working in a Greek diner and and then in Manhattan worked at a Greek restaurant. So then when I came out here after anthropology, I got a job on Beverly Boulevard at a restaurant called BLD that is no longer there, but it was super fabulous and and also worked as a behavioral therapist with autistic kids. So, again, you know, it all goes back to somehow everything goes back to me being a creative problem solving designer in some way. And I also looked at my clients who I was working with, as, you know, sort of challenges to figure out how to work through and solve and that there was no one size fits all. So I really created individualized programs for these children and their families. And it was so rewarding. And I actually met my husband while I was working at his fire station in Lennox. Oh, my gosh. He gave us a tour and it was amazing. And I still get very emotional about it because I was 30 gosh, I was 31. And I walked in there and I was like, Oh, these guys are all old in shape. Or The fireman and somebody, the captain says, Hey, firefighter Tanduay, I think you want to take this tour. So out comes this completely handsome Asian man, which was also like, Oh wow, okay, this is cool. And yeah, I was love at first sight. That's it.
Michelle: Oh, my gosh. I love it.
Effie: Yeah. And he felt the same way. And he was also confirmed bachelor living in Venice, like living the life skateboarder surfer grew up in Venice, total bad boy and vowed to never settle down. And now we have three children. So there is that.
Michelle: I love it. There's so much to unpack with just what.
Effie: You just told me. Oh, my God. There's I've lived a life for, I don't know, 30 people. It's been very intense and truly amazing. And it is a journey. You know, when people say it's a journey, it has been such a journey. For me.
Michelle: It seems like it's like you've packed in so much more than your age. I mean, that's wild. Like just how different your jobs are. The therapist part, like, literally just threw me for a loop. My.
Effie: Whoa. I was also a hypnotherapist in there as well. I got my my hypnotherapy certification.
Michelle: Are you still dabbling in any of that? Well, I'm sure the therapy thing helps with your family and your kids. I'm guessing maybe.
Effie: But and my friends, you know, it helps with my friends and it helps me. This is the other thing about building a brand and creating product is I look at it from so many different perspectives and I get inside of the consumer or I try to put myself inside of there and I look at the story behind the product and how it's like a. It's like a. Many puzzle pieces coming together. And it's just the way that I create and the way that I operate. So all of the things that I've ever done in my life, I'll go back into whatever I produce, whether it's a short story or it's the way I arrange my home interior design, the way I dress, the way I speak to my children, just who I am. So it goes into the into the candles, too.
Michelle: Okay. So your brand is Bodewell Living or is it bubble living or Bodewell home?
Effie: Oh, it's Bodewell Living now, honey.
Michelle: Well, living. And so your brand has been around. What year did you start? Bodewell. You purchased it or you? Or you started it?
Effie: I started it. I'm the founder. I did have a co founder, but I, I it was my concept, my designs. I did everything I did all the fragrance development and all the copy, everything that you see. I did. And that was maybe that's. Well, no, I have three babies already. And you know why I don't call it my baby? Because it allows me to get some distance and to be able to assess it and also to take in any sort of critique or outside advice without feeling something inside of me like ego getting involved, if that makes smart.
Michelle: Yeah. I mean, I think everybody's ego gets I think, you know, and also the hard part of anything you do creatively that I've found is that it's subjective. You know, I may think something looks amazing and the client may not be so stoked about it. And same thing, I'm assuming, like when you're developing something, it's like you think something smells amazing and you get you get feedback from your retailers or wholesaler. And I mean, I think that's a really smart way to do it without you taking it personally or, you know, and that that is ego. I mean, I think that's really I haven't talked to a lot of people that are able to separate the two.
Effie: Right. And it took me time to get here. It took me after I had split from my partner and took it on on my own and through the process of how much I really fought to keep the brand and and do all of those things made me realize this isn't me, this isn't about me, this is about my creativity. And one thing that really got drilled into me was, okay, Effie, let's say you don't have Bodewell anymore. Let's say it's gone. You're not gone. It's. It was me and I could recreate anything. And in fact, I always think about new things and new avenues. And so that was a huge realization that I didn't have in the first year. And the first year I was like, What do you mean they don't like that fragrance? That's amazing. Do they even know where that came from? You know?
Michelle: Spoken like a true, true designer.
Effie: Yeah. And then, you know, after what I went through, I thought, oh, my gosh, let me look at this. Let me really look at this. Let me look at all the feedback that was ever given. And let's I'm going to make some changes and I'm really going to pivot, which was like the big word of 2019. Yeah, I just felt like, okay, let me pivot. Okay, okay. I'm going to do what I really want to do, which was align myself with charities that spoke to me and donate to, to, to organizations that have that I felt very connected to. And so that's one thing that I wanted to do. And I wanted to have a sort of a social justice perspective. And I know that sometimes it's like a really bad word for brands like, Oh, don't get too involved. Oh, don't say too much. Oh, don't give your opinion too much. You know, you really have to be seen as this almost tepid, you know, spokesperson for your brand. And I really kind of pushed against that. And the result was loyal, loyal customers. And I've always said and some very wise people also say they're not buying your candles. You know, they're buying a piece of you. Yeah. And they want to feel like they know, especially for a small business, that they know the person designing and creating the product and know that they care. And it's not a big, bad corporation. And not that all corporations are big and bad. But you know what, I. You know.
Michelle: I love that because I, you know, I, I am part of the school of the Tony Tony Robbins and Brendon Burchard and their their philosophy of of giving back, whether you have a lot or a little, whether it's time or money or whatever is incredibly important. And I, I love it. What are the organizations that you give back to?
Effie: So. LA LGBT Youth Center in LA, Bracken's kitchen, which is so amazing. They're in Orange County and they actually take food that is destined for the landfill because it's not pretty enough or, you know, restaurants don't want it or whoever else doesn't want this food, they repurpose it. And Chef Bill Bracken actually creates these beautiful dishes and serves families, individuals who are suffering from food insecurity. And it touched me so much that I thought, oh, my gosh, okay. Well, every holiday now, I did it last holiday, but now every holiday going forward, I will donate a percentage of my holiday sales to this organization because it just moved me. I grew. Another little thing about me is I grew up not having a lot of money. My father is an immigrant from Greece. And so and my mom was a was a waitress. And so we were on welfare when I was a little kid. And I remember collecting these like green stamps and food stamps. So I don't live that life now, but I get it. I really get it. And it means something to me to be able to do something meaningful for somebody else. And now that COVID restrictions have lifted, my family and I are going to go down there and actually volunteer and serve these people because I just feel like I love that. Great. You have to be of service, you know?
Michelle: I love that I'm actually what we'll do is like within the show notes and our website for the podcast, I would love to post both of those organizations because I think that I think it's incredibly important and it's the easiest thing to do is to give to give time. I mean, and I do a different thing every year for homeless. We feed homeless, pack lunches on Thanksgiving. We drive down through South Central and hand them out. But we also do I'll buy socks and toothpaste and handy wipes and deodorant and mittens when we can and hats when we can and hand them out during cold weather months. Because I just I can't imagine and because I am so blessed and grateful for what I have. And it's not like I have a lot, but it's so much more. I mean, I walked away Thanksgiving with because we were like on the freeway overpasses. And the freeway overpasses were the ones that really rattled me the most because of the sound and and the fact that people live there 24 seven and the sound reverberation from top to bottom. And I you know, it's heartbreaking. And some of them, yes, want to be there. They don't want help. But I just kept all I kept saying is, like, I am so grateful I have a full belly, we have a home, we have a clean bathroom or I mean, just we have the bathroom and I have a clean bed to sleep in at night. I mean, that's truly, I think, all you really need. I mean, and and it's so I would love to I'll post an ad in those two organizations because that would be fantastic. Yeah.
Effie: Also, I didn't get to my the third charity that I work with, which is Homeless Health Care Los Angeles. And I just did a special candle called Requiem for Nicholas. Nicholas was is was my brother. He he died from a heroin overdose. And so I wanted to do something with my grief. And I thought, okay, Effie, do what you do. Design something and do something with that. So 50% of the profits are going to homeless health care. So that's another again, it's just everything that connects to you. And I think that's I think when brands do that, when they give to charities or organizations that they truly care about, I think people know I think that they feel more compelled to support that. So that's that's that.
Michelle: Wow, that's amazing. I, I had no idea. The philanthropic part of your business?
Effie: Yeah. Yeah, I guess I should make that more prevalent.
Michelle: You should.
Effie: You need to. I'm working on. I'm working on all. All the things that I should be doing because I'm trying to raise three little children.
Michelle: How old are your kids?
Effie: Three, six and nine. Wow. Yeah. And they're not in school. They're doing distance learning still.
Michelle: Is that one of the.
Effie: We're not going back. It's just it's too much for me, actually. The 2 hours here. 2 hours there. And and, yeah, my husband's in LA County. He was a firefighter, but now he's a he's a fire captain. He just got promoted. Right. Thank you. So his schedule is 24 hour shifts, you know, multiple times a week. So I got my hands full.
Michelle: I can't I can't imagine. So when you started your company, how did you come up with the name? Does it have a special meaning?
Effie: Oh, gosh. I came up with it in my bathroom one morning. I was getting ready and it was probably 6 a.m. and I was thinking about some word person. So I'm thinking about names and I thought, should it be like a Greek origin? And I love Greece and I love my Greek heritage, but there are not very many melodic sounding words that are easy to pronounce. So I said, okay, that's not going to work. And I thought, I want to convey this idea of. Goodness. Something good. And so I'm thinking I'm thinking I'm like, well, this wellness that know and then I thought. Bodewell Bodewell. And I know that there are people that say, oh, well, that doesn't bode well. You know, there's a phrase like, Oh, that doesn't bode well, but bode well means to live well. To live well. And I was like, that's it. And I'm also a crazy, you know, looking at a word and there's the Bodwell so it's very balanced with the eight letters. And that means so much to me. I just yeah. And it was perfect. I said all lowercase and I know the font that I want to use and I know the spacing that I want to use for the logo. And it came to me very, very quickly.
Effie: And then I went into this like cave in my mind and I developed the first eight fragrances. Yeah. So, so the other thing that I wanted was to, to design collections. And I thought about, again, this idea of a puzzle that there would be four little letter words, so four different scents in a collection, and they would spell out what the collection was called. So there was a white collection and a black collection and I thought hope and love for the first two collections. And then because I studied French in high school and I'm I love everything French, I thought, what about doing these beautiful, wonderful, sort of indulgent French words? And so I told the story of each scent, right? I went back into my memory as a kid, as an adult and isolated specific moments. And I thought about what was going on at the moment. How did I feel? What time of year was it, what time of day was it and what was growing there? Right. So I started to do that and then I thought, okay, well, what's a word in French that goes with this feeling, this story, this fragrance? And that's how I did it. And I found the words and I thought, Oh my God, this, this is it. This is amazing.
Michelle: So the words come first or the scent come first.
Effie: The collection name came first, then the story, then the scent, then the word. So for the hope collection it was I don't have wheat was the first, but I don't I don't have that scent anymore. Wheat, Ouvrir, passion and FSA. So the letter, the first letter of each word spells hope and love is lux ombré vivre and ELLE. So L-O-V-E and I did that for, I think seven collections. Now, since my revamping, I realized because one of the one of the biggest complaints was, Oh my God, you have way too many scents. And they were all different. I mean, we had 36 well.
Michelle: When I bought it, so I bought it and I forget if I bought it for Burt's Pharmacy or if I bought it for Sweet X.O. I don't remember one I remember by. And it was the colors first of your vessels that got me and then the sense and yeah, it was like, okay, I need to pare this down. So it was, it was balance of both the scent. And I mean, the vessels were gorgeous. I mean, they still are. But that matte finish and like those beautiful, the beautiful, great. I mean, it was stunning. And I, you know, yeah, I can imagine it must have been challenging for people, you know, like I was small, but if you're bigger and you're doing a lot, it's like I can't even imagine how to narrow that down totally.
Effie: And it was overwhelming, just inventory wise. Inventory management was completely insane. You know, you have different different buyers are buying different scents in different parts of the US were more inclined to buy X, Y and z kind of scent, you know. So it was hard to manage. So now I've dialed it down to the Hope collection, which is white, the home collection which is gray, and the love collection which is black. And so you still get that beautiful gradient of color. And then I have I'm launching, which I'm so excited about in July, my five pastel colors. Yay! And this is called it's called the Future Collaboration. And it is all about this beautiful, wonderful future of inclusion and advocacy and hope. And generosity. And so the names are not French. They're actually just English words, but they're powerful. So we've got bold and human and tender and noble and radiant. And the color of the vessel reflects that very feeling. Radiant is a beautiful yellow, such a happy, happy, happy yellow. And these are true to the brand. Muted pastels so silly they will carry you through the season. It's a larger vessel, a 12 ounce. And the fragrances are my top selling fragrances. I just took them and I said, You know what? People have love these three years running. Let's give them what they love. And I'm I'm so excited.
Michelle: Oh, my gosh. I'm so excited.
Effie: Myself. Yeah. Yeah.
Michelle: How many employees do you have? One that you.
Effie: But I'm not an employee because I've never been paid yet. I'm still waiting. But I do. I do have I guess you would just say people that I what is it called when you hire you work with them contracted. They're not employees of the business but I do have obviously a manufacturer and I'm super excited because I have just started working with a female owned manufacturer, candle manufacturer.
Michelle: Right. Are you manufacturing out of LA or out of?
Effie: I am. I am doing some manufacturing out of L.A. and now also out of Chicago. So I'm just completely thrilled about that. And then I have somebody who helps me with social media. I am finally hiring a female photographer because I've done all the pictures myself and I'm just like, I'm not a photographer, but I've done my best. And I think now I'm kind of moving into having a professional help me female PR and hopefully female marketing when I get to that point. And right now I don't have any sales reps.
Michelle: That was one of my questions.
Effie: Yeah, I work on my own. I did. I did. I did. And it, it, it wasn't, it wasn't working. It was all wholesale and to be all wholesale, I think we had at the height before the pandemic, 220 stores and after the show fees, the rep fees, the paying the rent to be in the showrooms, all the product that had to go out to all of the reps we were in debt. I mean.
Michelle: It's I mean, it's from being on that end of it as well. I don't know the fees and whatnot that goes into it, but I certainly know when they're setting up smaller vendors, it's like it's big chunks and I know a couple rep groups that are like, we know this isn't like fine lines started. A side capsule website called Egg and Egg is meant for they're still on brand for fine lines, but they are smaller. They're not in the showroom, so they don't have showroom fees. They're part of the website. They're still like, you know, they have a display, a small display at fine lines that promotes egg. But it's really egg is really on its own. And it's really based on because of the smaller brands not being, you know, honestly, the big ones have challenges paying the show fees and what not to. I mean, it's it's definitely a challenge. I mean it's a for small so it's you should I don't know if you're even interested in going back to a rep group, but Egg is a beautiful micro friend. Mara runs it for Fine Lines, and it's her aesthetic. I mean, she is a crazy person when it comes to aesthetic. I mean, she's phenomenal. And this is literally her baby. I mean, she's.
Effie: Built this.
Michelle: Website or on her own. She's done vetted all of the rep. I mean, and her whole thing is they can't be unfair because fairs, you know, oh.
Effie: Yeah, I'm off everywhere. I was on.
Michelle: That. And that's literally her. Her one thing is like trying to find these beautiful little great lines that aren't unfair, that are still within the fine lines, brand on brand for and it's worked out really well. And I think that that's kind of how the industry is going, especially with just showrooms. And I mean, for le forget it we barely have a building now but. I think the industry is definitely changing into like smaller venues like that as well as like small like Stephen Young has started doing small when everything happened and people didn't want to come to LA and people were afraid of being people. They started doing small pop up shows like I think they had one in Berkeley and they had somewhere else where they just bring everything there. And it's it's out of like, I think like a hotel convention center, like sort of like old school, the way magic. And if you knew the fashion industry, I know you were in fashion. So the magic and and these shows when they used to show back in hotels and you'd go to the hotel and you'd walk down the row of hotel rooms and just go see line after line of line. Before it was like big and massive. And it's in a convention center now. So it's kind of it feels like it's kind of going back to that old, older, like temp like floor template for business, which is kind of cool.
Effie: Yeah. I mean, I feel like that's the only way an indie brand could really break into the retail space. Besides, like what I did in the beginning, which was go to stores around LA and bring them my product, you know, but I didn't have time for that. It was very, very time consuming, driving around for hours at a time, lugging candles around. So now I just, you know, I had my old accounts and I just reached out to them and just said, hey, you know, I'm here. This is here's my catalog, my wholesale catalog. And if they order, they order great. But I'm really trying to ramp up my actual Shopify store. So I'd like to do like 50/50. I was.
Michelle: Just going to ask you, are you wholesale and retail or one.
Effie: Other? Yeah, I want to do both. I think a nice healthy balance with strategic stores across the country. And the other the other really key thing for small businesses is, I don't know, I'm not I can't compete with Nest of Blue Spa, right? Yeah. They're household names. So if you are going to buy my line and you put me in the back of the store, it's not going to help me, right? It's not going to it's not going to sell. But what a lot of people did when I hand-delivered the product in LA after we got the wholesale accounts, I went in, they met me. I told them my story a little bit about who I was and they put my stuff in the front and it sold like hotcakes. And that made a difference if I didn't. And that's the other thing with reps is they don't really want you getting involved with the buyers, you know, they really don't want the brands to communicate with them. And I get it. You know, I do. I understand that. But when you don't put a face to a brand, then how much are you invested in that brand? So I think there's something to be said with going back to this idea, like you were like intimacy and really talking about, you know, what the brand is, who the brand is. You know, we're not just having stuff. Thousands of units filled by machine. This is hand-poured. This is hand labeled. This is somebody in her kitchen, me designing labels and these out with my Pantone colors and thinking through every single step. And I have three kids, you know, so it's like they care once they care once a buyer cares about you, they tell customers, you have this new brand over here, why don't you go smell? Oh, I was coming in to get my usual nest candle. Oh, I'll smell this. Ooh, I love it.
Michelle: I mean, you know, honestly, like, and this is my biggest contention with retailers. It's like there's enough room at the table for everybody to I mean, candles especially. And it's one of those things where it's instant gratification and any new line anyway, any retailer should be putting in the front anyway, because that's the whole point of like especially when you have a regular customer, it's like your regular customer comes in and out, they know, they know Valuspa, they're going to find it wherever you put values, but.
Effie: They're going to find it.
Michelle: But your front real estate is supposed to be for both the seasonal as well as brand new brands. So people see something new. And so I mean, that, that, that when people put stuff to the back because it's like quote the only I have a beauty store that did that it was like the spa got the front and center and it's like everyone knows what it is, but like they know where it is. They they know it. Like it's, it's a bread and butter line. They're going to come to you no matter what. For it. They will find it. Wherever and put something new in the front so people see something new and it gets them excited. And guess what? They'll end up buying bold. So I absolutely, completely understand. I'm just sitting here looking at the questions that we've already gone through. So prior to bode well, you were in fashion. Tell me a little bit about what you did in fashion. Well, another thing you did.
Effie: I just I just worked at Anthropologie, but I did. I did. And I still do have a handmade jewelry line called Trust Fund, who I can't sleep.
Michelle: I just.
Michelle: How do you.
Michelle: Do all this?
Effie: Here's the deal. My one of my best friends, Alia Ramsey, she and I created Trust Fund together because we we worked at Anthropologie together. We worked on some fashion designs together, and we were just like, oh, it's just so much to get, you know, fashion, clothing off the ground. Right? And someone suggested, why don't you guys, like, look into jewelry design? But what they meant was, why don't you just kind of copy other people's stuff and get it mass produced? And neither one of us was going to do that. We were like, No, we're actually going to make our own stuff like hand make our own stuff. So we did and we both had babies strapped to us in my kitchen working for hours, doing all of this sort of intricate beadwork, and then working with gold wire and silver wire and coming up with these really cool ideas, very modern, minimalistic, kind of boho, edgy L.A. street style. And we did that. We sold at events and pop ups, and it was great, but it was it's slow fashion, so you're not going to mass produce and make a ton of money. We were actually in a showroom in L.A., but we were competing with, like, I don't know, Macy's backstage that wanted like a million units for 80% off. And you can't do that.
Effie: And we quickly realized, oh, man, this is not going to work. We're not going to be able to do this. And so we pulled our stuff from the showroom. It was fine, whatever. We continued to do our thing. And then she ended up moving to New Hampshire last year. And so L.A. runs a trust fund out of her home, and she's just doing doing her thing. And I'm over here not really getting involved. We designed everything together, and now she's just she's making it. So that was my true beginning of design, like understanding what it means to make something with your hands. And then, yeah, after that I did bode well. And I asked her, I said, Hey, do you want to do this candle? And she's like, No, girl, are you kidding? I have this baby. We're making this jewelry. I'm not doing another another brand. And I said, Well, I really think this bode well is going to really take off. I said, It's a consumable that really matters. People invest in like jewelry, you know, once, twice a year, buy for their mom or their sister or their best friend. But candles, you use them up, you know, and people can if they love it, they just keep on buying it. But she said no. And so I partnered with someone else.
Michelle: Oh, my gosh, I I'm like.
Effie: How many things you do? I didn't talk about three children.
Michelle: I'm like, God, I know people think I'm crazy and with all the crap that I do, but like I'm not I'm not producing things like I'm in a place and I'm gone the next day and it's not like I'm doing it in my my kitchen.
Effie: Like, trust me, I know.
Michelle: Huge props to you for that.
Effie: Well, this, this, this time next year, I better be completely outsourcing like everything and just basically running the company without doing, like, the photos and packing stuff up and doing all that stuff. My dream is to really have it like turnkey. It's running, it's doing its thing and I'm not so hands on because I also wrote a poetry manuscript this over the pandemic. And so I'm trying to get that published. That's my passion. That's my passion. Writing. Yeah, I just came out as a really, truly came out as a writer. I totally was a closeted writer forever. And I was like, You know what? I'm doing it. I'm putting it out there, and that's what I'm going to focus on.
Michelle: It for you. That's kind of this. I started doing live interviews during quarantine. Because I'm like, I was. So I was telling somebody the other day, like, I, I was still, like, not really accepting that we were shut down. Like, I was like, you know, we have construction jobs. We need to still do this perfect time to do it. Like drop paradise. We were expanding. We were I was redoing and designing the gallery because it kind of gallery got thrown together. When we opened, we opened six months before the COVID and it was like, Let's do it now. Like we can really do it and not have to worry about people coming and going. Everyone was like, Just fucking relax, stay home and just chill out and let's just see. And I'm like, Oh, it's going to be two or three weeks. Don't worry about it. And then as longer it, when I was getting antsy here and aunts here and it's like watching everyone I know in the industry. And I was like, I'm just going to start going. And I have no idea what the hell I was doing. And I was like, We're going live. And I just like, flip the switch and.
Michelle: All sudden I'm live. And it was so much fun though, to talk.
Effie: To people.
Michelle: And listen to like what they were going through, great things that they came out with it. I mean, the horrible parts that everyone was going with it and to see the. The hassle factor of some people of how fast they pivoted that word of hate now. But literally, like, you know, and I said to somebody that COVID and this whole thing is almost like the universe, literally, like as far as retail. It's been the same for a long time. There hasn't been big shifts either way, and COVID literally just shifted the whole industry like all the. I'm not being mean, but all the older ladies who have had stores forever and they're like 70 and they still are doing it the same way. And they don't want to change because we've done it the same way. We're who've never done social media. Those like literally the pandemic is literally clearing house and now is the next generation of retailers. And they're all so social media savvy. They are using Instagram and Facebook and these live sales like to their advantage and it's they're you're literally watching the industry change in real time and it's crazy because it's it's happened so fast and now that everything's kind of coming open again, it's it's booming. I mean, it's. I'm blown away by how busy almost everybody I talk to now, it's like it went from, like, we're dead. We're dead. We're dead to like, especially manufacturers, like, oh, my God, I can't keep up now. Yeah. Which is, I mean, a great thing and I'm sure it's very scary and stressful as well at the same time, right.
Effie: Yeah. I mean and every supply chain has been so disrupted it especially in the candle world.
Michelle: Are you having challenges with your vessels?
Effie: Oh, there's no glass. You know, there's no glass. Libby, the biggest glass supplier filed for Chapter 11.
Michelle: Did they? I didn't hear that. Wow.
Effie: Well, because I was a customer, I got all the legal notices and I thought something was up because I tried to order glass and my wrap was not there anymore and nobody was responding. And I was like, Oh, my God, where am I supposed to get my glass? So I ended up getting glass ordered glass in October of last year and I just got it a couple of weeks. Wow. Us us glass. Yeah.
Michelle: I've heard that. I mean, every candle manufacturer is like.
Effie: Yeah, there were no wicks, there was no natural wax. There was I mean, everything that could have happened happened. The price of cardboard went up. So the price of box, you know, it's just like, wowee. So I just, I was just able to replenish my stock because, like, I don't, I don't have it. So now I want some of that business put out good vibes. I'm going to get some of that business.
Michelle: Yes, for.
Effie: Sure. You know, but yeah, it's been a struggle and it will continue to be. It's it's not it's will probably just get worse. That's why I'm like, I've developed my holiday line. I'm already manufacturing my holiday vessels and boxes and I'm just like, I am going to be ahead of schedule, so I'm ready to go because it's just yeah, you have to be so much farther ahead.
Michelle: Yeah, it's I think, thank God, because I think anything now that's made in the US is going to become even more important, I think because consumers have gotten so used to fast fashion and it's cheap and and it piece it all comes from China and Korea and no one, I don't think the general consumer has put two and two together. So it's kind of nice now with all this US goods and it's like, you know, because now even all the stuff coming out of China is all been disrupted. I mean, it disruption started way back like trying to find fast fashion for for me, for the pharmacy and whatnot. But I think that now hopefully this is a wake up call and hopefully people start to rely on US goods more and understand why they're more expensive. And it's not, you know, that's one thing. It's like everyone wants it so cheap and it's like you don't understand. Like that is coming at a major cost. And now hopefully now this is like a wake up call for everybody.
Effie: Right. But, you know, and I would I would say, yes, I agree with everything you're saying. But I would also say, because I was in the same school of thought, but I did I have created relationships with suppliers overseas as a backup or for very, very large orders. And I have to tell you, I thought so much against it. You know, I have USA. Meyers And now I'm starting to also work with foreign suppliers. And sure, they're in Vietnam, they're in China. But these are also real human beings. And, you know, I do these video calls with my I'm sampling stuff in China and I'm I'm Calvin is my guy and he's like, Effy, here's this beautiful color we created. And now it's going into bake and showing me, like, every single part of the process. And I feel and I met his child, you know, on Skype and it's like, oh my gosh, the other thing is just vilifying the outside. And so I think I think what has happened anyway for me is that out of necessity, you know, because the US was not able to give us a lot of what we needed and yes, they are already sourcing our wicks come from Germany, everybody knows that. So and a lot of our glass, even if we're buying from our US manufacturers, is manufactured in Mexico. It's manufactured in China because they have the capabilities and they have the space, you know. So it's like, okay, well this is already happening, so why don't I speak directly to my suppliers and create relationships with them? So I think that that has happened and I feel like there's a way to support both. There is a way to work together and to to really understand that we are in this world together and we are human beings together. And that, you know, what is the difference between me getting fragrance from, you know, from France? Everyone thinks that's great, right? Versus I'm getting my boxes from China. Oh, my God, how could you do that?
Michelle: How could you? It's like, I don't I don't, I don't. And I maybe I phrased it wrong. I definitely don't because one of my vendors is Peking handicraft, where everything's okay. And I think that is the as the consumer just as a whole.
Michelle: Everyone wants it cheaper.
Effie: And that's that's.
Michelle: The part that I think I was trying to say is like, you know, and it's people don't understand that, you know, because believe me, everything comes out of China and and all the beautiful fabrics and embroidery work that comes out of India. And we have to have it. I mean, it's part like we can't produce it. I mean, that bottom line is like we we are not that production anymore as a country, but I mean, as just as a whole of so many people like we want it cheaper, cheaper and Amazon and Walmart and like that's more of what I meant.
Effie: Exactly. And I think you're right. And I think what what it boils down to what you just said, you said some key names of retailers that are sort of telling the story of you can get it cheap and you can get it fast. And I think those are sort of maybe the responsible parties for the concept of, well, why can't I get that candle for 1199 that it's 1199? And I and I say, Well, I know that glass is going to probably burst because it's so thin and that wax is pure paraffin. If you're if you're cool with that, great. And I know that fragrance is like watered down one note you're not going to get and something that is beautiful and worthy of sitting in your living room. Right. So we're both saying the exact same thing.
Michelle: Quality, I think. I mean, it quality is to me still hands down the most important. And I think that somewhere along the way, quality gets lost in the Walmarts and the Amazons and it, you know, I mean, good for them. And it's part of the industry and it's it's a different part of the industry. And I still don't think that they're going to take away from because everyone's anti Amazon and I'm like there's still Amazon is not writing you a thank you card for this and asking how your kids are and Amazon is not checking up on you and pulling, hey, we got this size in. I've got it on hold for you. Come down and pick it up. I mean, so that that part of the world, I think that the quality is always going to stand out and quality is always going to outlast the crappy stuff that's like in and out, like the crappy clothes that they're cute for aware. And it's like, that's it. Is it going to last you till next season? No.
Michelle: Right. And that's two different schools. But it's I love, though, that you have so many forging so many great relationships with your vendors because that. He I mean, totally. Yeah. Family.
Effie: Exactly. When I when I email or call and I say, oh, my gosh, I really want to try this and I don't know if it's possible. Can we do this design? And they're excited and say, Well, let's try it. See, we haven't done it before, you know, and then I'm excited. So I'm like, Wow, you've been doing this for like 25 years. And I just came up with kind of a new idea. Let's try it. Let's see if it works. If it doesn't work, it doesn't work. You know, sometimes you can't get that when you're working domestically. I can't get on the phone with the actual person that is spraying my glass, you know, by hand. It's just like it's a different, you know, everything serves a purpose. And I think I try not to disparage any other brand or what a big box or whatever it is, because, you know, there are different tiers of of retail. And I think everyone has their place, but that's not my tier and I'm okay. And at least I acknowledge that I'm not trying to be everybody's candle. I think I know who am I. Consumer is and I try to honor them and give them what I think they are asking for. And I listen to them and I want to listen to them. And buyers to, you know, special specialty boutiques are everything right now. I think I think everyone is ready to go into a beautiful shop in Ojai or, you know, just go somewhere that feels cozy and like home versus, you know, we've been we've been in Target this whole time, right? Yeah. I haven't really been able to go into our favorite little little shops that have handpicked each and everything and that you, someone like you goes in and creates these beautiful, wonderful, amazing, you know, displays and just like, it's just it's I think.
Michelle: The retail experience is like people are ready for that. I mean, obviously ready. But I think though that that it's true, like people are ready, wanting eye candy. I mean, I know for me, it's like there's a phrase that the president when I worked at Anthropologie, the president, Glen Sink, used to use, which is I want to be gobsmacked. And I think from not being in retail or so, I mean, I was going to grocery stores during quarantine just so I could be around the retail experience. I mean, it was like I was in Lazy Acres every fucking day. I mean, they were like, Hey, Michelle, I'm like, I know just to walk down the aisles and smell things and touch things. And it was such a weird. It was so weird that I was doing that. But I realized it just because I you when you eat, sleep and drink this industry and all of a sudden it's gone, it's like, okay, we're going out. And I didn't really want to go to Target's and but for some reason, like grocery stores, I mean, the Lazy Acres and Bristol Farms are.
Effie: You know, they they feel intimate. Yes.
Michelle: But it's also eye candy. I mean, it's like they're so well done. And and now that I'm able to get back out into stores again, it's like that's my goal, is to create that experience for a customer walk in like Litt Concept. Like in that that room, that entry that we did, it was like, I just wanted it to feel like you're walking into an artist's studio, like in New York or like a loft somewhere and have that just layered, layered upon layered and your candles fit in there perfectly and beautifully. And I mean, that's to me, what it's about is creating that facade and oh.
Effie: You did.
Michelle: Experience. Thank you. That, that customer experience is, is everything. And I think that people are definitely ready for that, for sure.
Effie: Yeah, totally.
Michelle: I have to ask you now, because we kind of went through some of the questions already that I was going to ask you, kind of naturally went through it. Tell me a little bit about your experience with quarantine because your husband is a first line. Yeah. And from a personal perspective, as well as a business perspective, but mostly from personal perspective because of your husband.
Effie: Yeah. So he was obviously exposed. He was exposed on ten different occasions because patients not really knowing in the beginning how it was spread, fellow firefighters having COVID, not knowing they had COVID, and they're all in close quarters. You know, they eat together, they sleep in open dorms and they go from station to station. So they have their home station, but then they do over time in other stations. So if you can kind of. Imagine the sort of nightmare that was happening. So-and-so had just tested positive for COVID. Well, he was at this station on this day, then went to that station on that day and that. So it was it was crazy. And I mean, I would make him strip down outside of the house, go take a shower right away, not touch any of us, because I was terrified. We never had it. We didn't get COVID. He didn't get COVID. We didn't we were very, very careful. His mom lives in Marina del Rey, so we're in Playa Vista. So, you know, 10 minutes down the road, we did not go into her home this entire time.
Effie: The kids played in her yard, wave to her through the sliding glass door. She's our own. She's their only grandparent. Yeah, she's the only grandparent. And it was kind of like, oh, my gosh, like we we took it very seriously. I would even go deliver candles with a mask on. And, you know, to be honest with you, some people were like, oh, you don't have to wear that. I was like, I do, because, you know, I could be I'm exposed and I care about you, you know? And I was just really adamant about being careful. I even got into a fight with a dad. Oh, my gosh. There was a dad at the park and we were outside, we were playing, we had our blanket. And I told my children, you know, this is where we're going to play. You have your toys play here. And there was a little boy that kept coming over wanting to play with the kids stuff. And again, this was in the very beginning when we were all sort of like terrified.
Michelle: Wide eyed. I still remember seeing people just that.
Effie: Freak out totally. And so the dad was on the phone, so he wasn't watching his child. So I just went over and I said, I'm so sorry, sir. We're just my children are just not playing with other children right now. But we do want to get some fresh air. We're keeping our distance. We were with another woman who was in her eighties, you know, and I just said there's there is a woman who's with us who's older and we're just trying to be very careful and respectful. I'm really sorry. It seems like your son really wants to play with my children's toys. We're just not sharing. Okay, okay, okay. He says okay. No problem. Sorry. Calls his son over and I'm like, Oh, sure, that was easy. Okay. Like I was like shaking because.
Michelle: Having that conversation is not easy anyway.
Effie: Especially it's it's not. And then, you know, I'm talking to someone, I turn and there's this dad next to my kids switching toys and saying, Oh, he wants to. And he wasn't wearing a mask. And I went over and I said, What are you doing? I just asked you so politely to please not engage with my kids right now because we are social distancing and we have someone with us who has a compromised immune system. And he said he said, you are ridiculous. People like you are so ridiculous. Oh, God. And I started off I started yelling at him and and I just I don't even know what I was.
Michelle: Saying, Mama Bear.
Effie: And I just I was going crazy. And I looked at my kids and I said, it's okay. Mommy is just expressing herself right now. We're going to go we are going to leave and go home because this gentleman is not respecting us. And I said, look, dude, I'm wearing this mask to protect you and your child and everyone else here because my husband is exposed every single day that he goes to work. So I'm doing this for you.
Michelle: Oh, my God. I can't even go there with with. I just I have to give it to you, because I would have used I used the F-bomb liberally, so I apologize. So I would have gone off. So, I mean, kudos to you for keeping your form.
Effie: And yeah, that was that was covered. You know, we just we just did it and we did the, you know, distance learning thing. I mean, kids hated it, but it's cool, you know, whatever. I knew it was just this is just a moment in time where people just had to learn how to live differently. And I think I think for the most part, we've all done exceptionally well. Yeah. And we're getting to the other side of it. But again, I'm not ready to take my mask off. So I'm I'm going to Pilates. I'm wearing my mask. You know, I go out, I wear my mask because my kids are not vaccinated. My husband and I are.
Michelle: But it's I think it's smart and it's like, you know, I think that a couple of the stores lit is now like, we're not doing masks anymore. We respect your if you want to wear it, if you don't want to wear it. And they're very good about if do you want me to put a mask on while I'm helping you? We're all vaccinated. They're super. And and a lot of people would have read them saying, you know, we respect and please respect our customers wishes who are also because and I have to say, like I just talked to my girlfriend today and I said, you know, I got to admit, like Manhattan Beach, which is I mean, I was born and raised here, but it's Manhattan Beach and I'm not going to lie. Some of the women are a little you know, it's all about them.
Effie: But I mean, sitting here.
Michelle: I've seen more people in the South Bay, especially compared to Orange County, more people in the South Bay still wearing their masks, even when they're walking their dog by themselves down the street. And I'm like, I have to say, like, that makes me kind of happy and proud because it's like, God, you go to Orange County, you never even know there was a pandemic.
Effie: Yeah, no, no, man. No one thing. Just like it's so crazy.
Michelle: But, you know, it is kind of nice now that and now that we are coming out of it. Tell me a little bit about how now that you're now that you're returning normal, have you noticed a difference of how people are buying or how. How your business is?
Effie: Well, I would I would say that I didn't I didn't have any wholesale accounts really going through the pandemic, but now all of a sudden the orders are coming in. So that's that's really great. My my own Shopify store sustained me, which was wonderful. So somehow that grew miraculously, which is, which is wonderful. So that is sort of where I'm going. I'm going in the direction of let's have a nice balance between the two and just kind of figuring out, how do I do that? How how can I do this in a smart way? So we'll see.
Michelle: And this wasn't even one of the questions, but it just made me think about it. So when people are buying on Shopify.
Michelle: Are you? Because I have not gone to your Shopify. Are you super descriptive with the sense? Because that to me is I mean, that's why I couldn't order candles or bath products on faire because I'm like, I have no I mean there are lines that will say, oh, it has notes of this, that and the other, and you get it like those. So not at all what it's supposed to smell. So how how do you do that?
Effie: So what I what I did over the pandemic, which when you look at my website, you will see I did a lot of photos with ingredients. So, you know, so that is you can see visually what it would smell like. And then you have the scent notes and then I give sort of a little story description about it that gives you like the feel of it. So that is that's what I did. And that has been successful. And also categorizing them into eye openers or, you know, earthy or whatever to let people know here's the direction, you know? And I think that my sense are true to what they say they are. It's a gardenia and white tea. It is a gardenia that smells like it is early morning with dewdrops on it. It just I just worked really, really hard to capture the essence of the notes.
Michelle: I mean, scents are amazing. I mean, I honestly like there is not one that. I would say I don't understand. I mean, they are all stunning. I mean, are and they're so true and so clean, which also speaks of the quality. Yes. Because people don't understand, like, why this smells good, but they don't like the true ness and as well as when they burn and that the whole room smells like the candle smells when you smell it like.
Effie: Yes, yes.
Michelle: Yes, yes. And it's I never understood that until you start getting higher in lines. It's like this doesn't smell anything at all, like what candle smells like. And yours too. I mean, they're stunning. I mean, they everything from packaging to the scent are absolutely stunning.
Effie: Thank you.
Michelle: You're welcome. I mean, I'm I'm sure you know.
Effie: No. Yes, I try. I try. I'm I'll tell you one other little important fact is that I don't wear perfume. I never burned a candle in my life before I wow brand. Yep wow. I am so sensitive to smells like so sensitive that it it has been sort of like an uncomfortable thing for me. I will also tell you and reveal to you that I cannot handle the scent of lavender. Lavender makes me sick to my stomach. It actually turns my stomach. There's something in it. And, you know, real lavender that's out there. Wow, I can't handle it. So my the idea there were two, two ideas. One was my husband's a firefighter. He's in fires, burning buildings. Things burn. What happens when things burn? You inhale them. So the first thing was all natural wax. I was like, 100%, I'm going to do this. And it's not easy. It's really difficult to work without paraffin. Paraffin makes everything beautiful. It's like, look at that creamy tub. Look at that beautiful texture. Oh, the scent, though, is amazing. Yeah, it really is. I said, no, not doing paraffin. Oh, it's so much easier. I'm not doing it. I'm not doing it. Then. Then the wick, the only thing that I have are synthetic fragrances with essential oils because I've been working on it for three years. Developing super dynamic, layered, essential oil based fragrances is very, very difficult. And I loved when Michelle Pfeiffer came out with her brand, Henry Rose, and she talked about working with chemists to use all natural essential oils and that she just couldn't get that beautiful, potent scent that working with that was very challenging.
Effie: So there are other ways now and I'm working I'm working with chemists right now to develop a line of all naturals because I just want to go that step further. My my synthetics are phthalate free. I don't even know how to say that word. Sulfate free musk free. Polycystic musk free. Paraben free. So I've, I've taken out any of the dirty list ingredients to have a quote unquote safe synthetic. The really shitty thing is that because fragrances or candles are not regulated, anybody out there can call their stuff natural. Yeah, nobody can say anything. And it does eat me up inside because it's so hard to do some of the things that I've done and that other Candle brands have done. It's really hard. It is a lot easier to throw some paraffin in there, throw some fragrance. You don't even know what's in it and call it done. Yeah, but sometimes the the road less traveled I guess is that's why there is that phrase. It pays off in the end. And so knowing how things burn, knowing that people inhale them was one of the foundations for the brand. And the other was no cloying, clingy perfume scents.
Michelle: That's why I love them. I have sensitive my mom has had like sinus things forever and I can never understand. Why can't you wear perfume? I don't get it. You would never burn candles. I can't I can't wear perfume now at all. But I burn candles. But I am of the sense I. I burn or like green. I can't do the heavy musk. But that clean green, like, that's like my favorite. But I. I totally understand that. That fragrance.
Effie: Having this. People reach out to me all the time that say I. I usually have reactions to fragrances and I can burn your candles because they they smell clean. They really make your house smell clean and lovely. And that was the whole point. And I'm so grateful because sometimes in your brain you think, you know, you want something to happen and you even mix the oils and you think, okay, but then you put it into wax and it doesn't it doesn't translate. But luckily they all translated and I'm I just feel like, okay, cool.
Michelle: Man. This is making me want a candle right now. Do you have any plans on expanding the line, like bath and body or. Yeah. Diffusers.
Effie: Yeah. I've. Ah, I worked also on my. Perfume roll ons. So that will launch sometime. You have to do things seasonally here every quarter. We need to put something new out. So my plan is to launch my roll ons of my favorite yummy fragrances that translate to body. You know, you have to you have to do that. What my I'll tell you a little insider scoop that my favorite one that I'll be launching is the Rose Water and Santal with...Its heaven. Know it's heaven. It's like so delicious light, beautiful budding rose. I mean, with this, like, earthy, soft santal that just envelops the floral notes. And it's I can't and I can't wait to wear it. Like, I wear it and I'm like, I can handle this. Ooh, I like this. This is actually very, very nice. And my kids, they're amazing. And they're always my little like truth. Sayers Mommy, you smell so good. Okay, that's. That's that's a hit that's happening. I'll do.
Michelle: That. This is a fourth quarter item.
Effie: I don't know, man. I don't know. We'll see my.
Effie: I'm working on the packaging for it. I'm working on the box, the boxes. And I think 3 to 5 launch diffusers are tricky for me. I don't. I don't I'm trying to figure out how to not use those sticks. So I'm working. I've got some porcelain ideas. I mean, there are ways to get around not using the sticks. So I'm I'm looking at that. But I think before diffusers, I would do like an all purpose spray that you can spray on linen in home on yourself that can go with you can be in your car just to refresh that has like a beautiful light scent attached to it. We just got a puppy. So, yes, Olive, she's amazing. But every time I walk into the house because I'm so sensitive, I'm like, Oh, it smells like a dog and I can't handle it. So I have I make my own cleaner, which is just vinegar, white vinegar and water, and I'll just spray everything with that. I don't love the vinegar smell. It cleans the air. I mean, it literally disinfects everything. So I was like, okay, what do I need? Oh, I need something that is pet friendly. So you have to be careful, right? It's got to be pet friendly. Then I can just kind of spray around the house so I can live with this dog.
Michelle: Because I have to ask because I'm a dog. Mom, what kind of dog?
Effie: Oh, gosh, she's a mini goldendoodle. Oh, she is a she's a teddy bear kind.
Michelle: Oh, my God, they're the cutest.
Effie: I don't even think you understand. And I'm not a dog person. And my daughter actually wrote a persuasive argument paper. She's nine about the I have a dog and she researched all the breeds. She wrote down everything about why this one, why not that one? I mean, it was unbelievable. And so my husband and I acquiesced and said, All right, you got yourself a dog, honey.
Michelle: She's going to be an attorney when she's older.
Effie: I know. I'm like, what? What are you going to do? Well, you're going to run the world. But yeah, yeah. So yeah. So that's that's what I have coming up with love to partner or collaborate with other brands in interior design space I beauty brands. I'm looking at like minded companies that would like to do a collaboration because I think obviously that's just super important right now. Yeah. Further out.
Michelle: Where do you see Bode well in ten years?
Effie: I see it as a lifestyle brand that I feel proud of calling a family business that in ten years my daughter will be close to 20 years old, that she can be a part of and to follow. So and giving back as much as I can, I want to be that that company that says 50% of our profits all across the board go to charity.
Michelle: That's amazing. That's that's that's my thing.
Effie: That's what I want.
Michelle: My last question is, I ask everybody for creatives, where do you find inspiration?
Effie: My life.
Michelle: I love it. It sounds like a lot of what you're doing, especially with your husband and the sense of burn in understanding. I feel like that's.
Effie: Yeah. And high fashion. High fashion. I flipped through Vogue or Elle or on Instagram. And I am really I'm so intrigued and compelled by the story that is being told by each season. And I think, okay, okay, this is what I'm I'm going to get into. This is what I'm interested in. So, yeah, high fashion really does inform me a lot.
Michelle: You know, I had said because I was interviewed for something and I, you know, I don't think many gift people realize that fashion. I mean, I understand it from being for both worlds, but I don't think people in gift industry understand that high fashion dictates even what we do. And I said like the whole blue and white tie dye and the indigo, and that was out five years ago before it even hit. And I go through all the magazines and I pull tears and it's like you can see clearly where the industry is going on high fashion. And it's like, you know, and then it ends up, you know, for people that recognize it, then it ends up at the gift industry level years later. But I love that that's where you find inspiration.
Effie: Totally. I was just shopping. I was trying to find some clothes for my kids and I'm seeing me on neon colors. And there was neon was really how many years ago, I think five years ago on the runways.
Effie: And it was even like neon eyeshadow and so bold and it's come down now. It's trickled down to us to the to the not, not on the runway, folks who are seeing it now. And I'm like, wow, I don't think I can do a neon color. So I'm going to go my palette the muted. But I was right on with the pastels. Yeah no so yeah that's my inspiration.
Michelle: And my last thing and I ask everybody is what is some advice that you would give somebody starting a brand new business from the ground up?
Effie: Get a good attorney. That's brilliant. I'm not joking.
Michelle: That's brilliant.
Effie: Pay for it. Even if you think, Oh, I don't have the money, it will be the best X amount of dollars that you ever spent. And be wary of people with get rich quick ideas. It ain't going to happen.
Michelle: That's brilliant.
Effie: And no, you're not going to see a paycheck for, I don't know, three, four, five years, ten. If if you want to build a brand, if you want to sell something, sure, you can make some bucks. If you want to build a brand that will stand the test of time, longevity and longevity. If you want to do that, then you will forgo any sort of paycheck that you think you deserve and you will reinvested in the business. You will continue to work and grow the business and grow it slow and steady because fast and furious will will get you shut down. You will? Because all of a sudden you're going to have this huge account and you're going to be seeing dollar signs. And then guess what? They're going to drop you without a moment's.
Michelle: Notice, or they go out of business and you become part of their Chapter 11.
Effie: Yep. Yep. So that's my advice. And I would say find a mentor. The other thing I've been doing is mentoring fledgling candle brands over the pandemic. And it's been so joyful because I'm sure I'll share I share my contacts, my resources. I will say, you know what? Better to use this box than that box because it's going to ship flat and it's going to cost you less. And here's a great manufacturer and here's a great fragrance developer.
Michelle: I think that's amazing because so many people are so worried about and it's Fred Segal used to tell me, don't worry about what everybody else is doing. They're not going to be able to do what you're doing. So just keep doing what you're doing and and giving back information. I mean, that's why I'll do my I try and give out whatever tips for me because it's like there's enough room at the table for everybody.
Effie: Yes. And I love that. And you know what? You started doing that and I was seeing that on Instagram and I was like, this is brilliant of her to do this, because then also people look at you as sort of a leader in this space of merchandising, which is very it's a very difficult thing to do, but it changes. So we'll just go back and we keep talking about Anthropologie, but go back to Anthro merchandising was and is everything in that store and it's.
Michelle: I mean it really I mean it's they go it goes by sight, sound and scent and that's how people buy it. It's like, what's the point of me taking all this information? You know, like, everybody could use this information and it's like, why? Why not? I mean, and I love that you're doing that with other manufacturers and you're not holding your secrets tight because it's that scarcity mindset. It gets you nowhere.
Effie: Yeah. I'm not going to give them my fragrance formulas. I mean, I'm not crazy, but.
Michelle: No, but the fact that you'll give like your manufacturer, like there's way too many people I know that won't even give out any information at all. And it's like like I said, there's enough room at the table for everybody to sit out. It's like they're not going to do what you're doing if you're doing it really well. And that's a huge. Good on you, Effie. Well, thank you so much for spending this time with me. I'm so excited for this to come out and for people to hear this because it's like, I think that everybody's going to be able to take something away from this interview. So thank you so much. I can't I I'm truly grateful.
Effie: Thank you for giving me this opportunity. It's so awesome and it's such a cool format because I really do feel like I'm talking to my best friend and I love it. Like super chill, so relaxed and. Yeah.
Michelle: And that is a wrap. Thank you all so much for joining me on today's episode. I really appreciate it. And be sure to tune in every Wednesday for more stories and lessons from a life in retail. And don't forget to follow us on Instagram at the retail whore podcast, and you can find us online at the retailwhorepodcast.com