Janiya, 13, turns passion for candle-making into a business
Janiya Sealey’s advice to teenagers thinking of starting a business: “Just go for it.”
The 13-year-old started making candles at the beginning of the pandemic and is thrilled to see how her company, Ny’s Litt, has grown.
“I didn't think it would get to where it’s coming now,” she said. “At first I thought it was just something I could sell to my family, that I could just do some small batches of candles.
“But now I have to make so many because so many people want them. Some people are buying ten candles at a time – and that's a lot of candles. So I would tell [teenagers] not to give up their dream, but it is a lot of trial and error.”
The Dellwood Middle School student was looking for something to do with all the free time she suddenly discovered she had in April of 2020. The Government had placed the island under lockdown as a way of coping with Covid-19 – schools and most businesses were shuttered for the duration.
Her immediate thought was to create her own brand of lip gloss but in talking with her friends, Janiya discovered that it was not a unique idea.
“I wanted to do something different,” she said.
Her mother, Nicole Saunders, and her aunt, Christina Paynter, suggested candles as a substitute.
“My auntie bought me a starter kit and it just went from there,” Janiya said. “I kept progressing and buying more stuff and filling up my inventory.”
She practised for a few months to improve the scent and texture of her creations and sought feedback from family and friends.
Her goal is to use the money she earns to pay her way through college, where she hopes to fulfil her dream of becoming an ultrasound technologist.
Until her aunt ordered the kit from Amazon, she did not know anything about making candles.
“I loved the scents of candles but I just never used to burn them,” the teenager said. “If I was in a store I would just randomly pick up a candle and see how they smelled. But I would never buy it. So I had nothing. I knew nothing about candles.”
The starter kit suggested appropriate measures of wax and oil.
“And then I went on YouTube and different websites that taught me different recipes and I found one that I liked and I stuck to it.”
Word of mouth helped grow her sales until “eventually”, Janiya designed a website, nyslitt.com.
“At the bottom of my website was my e-mail address,” the teenager said. “People would just put in their order and it would come directly to my e-mail and I would get back to them on how they wanted to pick it up, if they wanted it delivered or if they wanted to collect it at different pop-up shops.”
Although the young entrepreneur had “always envisioned herself as a business person”, she did not think her career would start as early as it has.
She offers about 15 scents of candles. Her favourite is mango and coconut, which is also the most popular scent sold, but she can also customises scents for buyers.
“It took a lot of trial and error because sometimes it wouldn’t burn properly or I didn't have the right wicks … I had to keep training and training.”
Things took a turn at her first pop-up shop at Death Valley Field in Southampton last December.
“That was my first time I made a big sale – I sold out of everything. But before that I was just selling for my family. I wasn't really selling to everybody.”
Janiya has set aside two days a week for candle-making and organising her business. On Tuesdays and Thursdays she gives herself a bit of time to relax after school and then starts working for Ny’s Litt promptly at 6pm.
“And then I will just go for the rest of the night until I get tired,” she said.
“Once the wax burns and you have the scents and all that in there, you just have to pour it in the containers and wait for them to dry. They take two weeks to cure. The candle won’t burn properly until that time is up.”
She sells her candles at as many markets as she can. People can keep track on Instagram: @nys.litt.
As for the future of the company, the teenager said: “I think I'm going to continue to do this. I’ll probably add on to it with sprays and other products.”