Sukie Jefferson had all the markers of success. She lived in a big city, finished grad school, and obtained a stable job that she excelled at. Yet, there was a part of her that made her feel disconnected from herself. One day she asked herself, “Is this really what we went to school for all this time for and dedicated all this time to just so that it would culminate to work some 9 to 5 job sitting in meetings that you really hate?” Deep down she didn’t feel like this life was meant for her, even when others around her were doing the same thing. In 2016, Jefferson took control of her life and created her own business that she was ecstatic about: Sukie's Candle Co.
Before she knew that she wanted to create her own company, Sukie started a self care practice at home. She taught herself how to make products that she would use on her body such as: lip balms, body spreads, toothpaste, deodorant, and facial cleansers. This was her distraction from staring at a computer all day. This allowed her to escape her corporate job and took her into this liberating world of DIY projects.
One day, she started practicing candle making in her kitchen. This became an essential part of her self-care practice since candles can allow for tranquility after a long day. Jefferson made candle-making a part of her regular routine. She shared them with friends and family and sold them at the farmers market on weekends. Her passion had evolved quickly over the next five years as the demand for her product kept going up and it turned into a successful business. This was something that she never expected to happen. Her business flourished and started selling nationally in 13 different retail stores located in the Pacific Northwest region alongside her retail offerings online.
“It’s just this magical journey that has completely transformed my life,” Jefferson said. “It’s just something I am really in love with still.”
Lighting the Way
Sukie Jefferson never knew that being a business owner was in her future. Given the opportunity, she didn't want to waste it. She wanted to create a business that she had always dreamt about working for: a comfortable, welcoming environment to work in. With the high demand for her product, she hired a team of five people on staff with the aim to hire local women of color who are pursing an education. She seeks out women in need of opportunities and support that they might not gain from a different job. She makes it her goal to humanize her employees and treat them how she would want to be treated. All she asks for in return is that they show up as the authentic person that they are.
Jefferson came across Business Impact NW while looking for an organization she knew would support her company. Specifically for Jefferson; the mentorship has been a great resource for her and her company. Other resources she found through Business Impact NW, was the mentorship assessment she participated in through a grant program. This helped her refine her production cost and profit margins. Additionally, she was able to participate in the 2021 Celebrating Dreams Showcase. This opportunity boosted her business online to thousands of potential customers that were interested specifically in supporting woman-owned businesses.
“It’s just nice to know, even if it’s just in the back of your mind, that there’s an organization that’s there for you to see you thrive and succeed and plug you into different resources in the state,” Jefferson said.
A Flickering Future
During the height of the Black Lives Matter movement, there was a spike in interest of supporting black-owned businesses. This caused an uptick in sales during 2020 for Sukie's Candle Co, being flooded with meeting new demands. This explosion didn’t sustain itself for very long. After the explosion ended, sales plummeted but fortunately, left businesses sustaining. Sukie’s Candle Co. was one of the few businesses able to sustain itself during the pandemic. Jefferson knew she picked a product that would do well during the pandemic with everybody stuck at home. In relating to her clients, Jefferson said if she's staring at a computer all day, then she might as well have a candle beside her.
Jefferson said it is empowering to be both a woman and person of color with authority over her own business. Now that she is doing it, she can't imagine doing anything else. Being a person that is sure of herself and knowing that she is leaving her mark is a fulfilling part of her life.
"It’s an exciting time to be a black small owned business right now," Jefferson said. "A woman owned business and additionally to be able to make products that are eco friendly and nontoxic. There are so many layers to it that speak to me and speak to things that matter to me. I can’t image a time where I’m not passionate about what I’m doing.”
We are thrilled to have supported Sukie Jefferson on her journey to becoming a successful entrepreneur and can't wait to see all that she continues to build for herself, her staff, and her community.
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