Today we’d like to introduce you to Brittany Cunningham.
Hi Brittany, can you start by introducing yourself? We’d love to learn more about how you got to where you are today?
Ever since I was a kid, I really liked the idea of owning my own business just like my parents do. I went to Loyola University Chicago’s Quinlan School of Business and graduated with a degree in Supply Chain Management. I really enjoyed operations and making processes more efficient, so it was a lot of fun to study! Loyola also focuses a lot on sustainability, which was already important to me and became even more important and actionable after my time there. Upon graduating, I began working in sales for education technology startups. I really enjoyed the overall mentality of working in a startup and appreciated the opportunity to wear multiple hats. It made me even more eager to start my own business, but I still wasn’t sure what that business was going to be. Then I came upon candle making.
I have always loved candles, but nearly every candle I’d buy in the store would give me and my partner a headache. So, I set off to learn how to make candles that smell just as good without causing any discomfort. Along the way, I fell in love with the art of candle making, the unique characteristics (and tempermentalness) of each wax, the complexities of the fragrances, and the smiles on people’s faces when they’d hold and smell one of my creations. Then I realized, this is it! This is going to be my business. And the name 10 acre farm came pretty quickly, as we had just purchased a 10 acre farm here in West Michigan.
Originally from Illinois, I am now very proud to be a Michigander, so everything I make has a back story related to life in Michigan. All products are sold in plastic-free packaging and are made from high-quality, simple ingredients that look and smell good in any room. 10 acre farm is a member of 1% for the Planet, which means we’re committed to donating at least 1% of our revenue to environmental nonprofits.
I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle-free, but so far would you say the journey has been a fairly smooth road?
Overall, I’m grateful the road has been relatively smooth, but it was a very bumpy start. I’d spent the last few months of 2021 perfecting my candle-making skills and polishing our business plan before taking a leap of faith and quitting my sales job that was providing me with a comfortable living. I was ready to hit the ground running as soon as we entered 2022, but it ended up being more of a slow and desperate crawl. My LLC was formed so I opened a business bank account and deposited the business’s initial funds, which was a good chunk of my savings. Upon applying for a business credit card through the bank, I got a notification from the bank saying they detected suspicious activity and needed me to go into a branch to prove my identity. I did that, was told I was good to go, but then the system shut me out entirely that same day. I had lost access to 100% of the business’s money and no one could figure out why. There was a team of branch managers and other bank employees calling daily for weeks to try to get answers. I couldn’t believe that all of our money was being held captive and no one was able to do anything about it! While this was happening, the amber glass jars and metal lids I was planning to use and had based my entire line off of went out of stock everywhere I looked, unless I wanted to pay 3-4x the price, which would not have worked with my pricing model. I went searching far and wide for new jars and tried 8-10 new ones. I ended up choosing the paint can style jars that I am still offering today. There ended up being no good explanation for why my money was held. Here I was, thinking I’d have launched my business by early February at the latest, but it ended up being nearly two months later on March 29. My personal savings account was quickly diminishing because I had an additional two months of not making any income. It was stressful! Despite all this, I don’t know that I’d change anything that happened. It taught me to be really resilient right off the bat and it led me to a really cool vessel that stands out from most other candles on the market. The amber glass jars are back in stock now and we sell them, but the majority of our customers have been drawn right to the colorful paint can style, which I never would have had were it not for this incident. Things have a weird way of working out!
Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your business?
10 acre farm sells Michigan-inspired soy wax candles that are good for you and good for the planet, too! Our candles are made with phthalate and carcinogen-free fragrances, 100% soy wax from US soybeans, and produced without any additives or dyes. We’re especially proud of our environmental efforts. We’re members of 1% for the Planet, which means we are committed to donating at least 1% of our revenue to environmental nonprofits. On top of that, all of our products are vegan and produced and shipped in fully recyclable or biodegradable packaging that is free of plastic. Our candles are available on our website, 10acrefarm.co, at craft fairs and markets across the state of Michigan, and in 10 stores and counting.
We have eight signature scents that are available year-round and we offer four-six seasonal scents that change every few months.
What are your plans for the future?
We are very excited for the road ahead! We plan to offer our candles in additional scents and sizes and look forward to partnering with nonprofits to put on fundraising events in which 100% of profits will go to the nonprofit. We’re also in the process of getting our 10 acre farm established. We’re getting chickens and alpacas this summer and next year plan to go big on a fruit and vegetable garden. We hope to become even more involved in our local community selling our produce at farmers’ markets while expanding our candle lines nationwide.
- Our 8oz candles are $22 and our 4oz candles are $12. If you spend $70 or more on our website, they ship free!
- Website: 10acrefarm.co
- Instagram: @10acrefarm
- Facebook: facebook.com/10acrefarm.co
- Other: https://www.linkedin.com/in/brittanygrosserbasile