Sometimes, something you encounter during childhood just sticks with you. That's what happened with Christine Flores, owner of The Beeswax Co. Formerly in a "career that was kind of soul-sucking," Flores decided to make a change in 2010 while she was pregnant with her first child. Her family heard through the grapevine that The Beeswax Co. candle company was up for sale. They decided to take a leap of faith and buy it—a month after Christine's daughter was born. "Within five weeks I had two brand-new babies," she says. "I didn’t know what I was getting into, which was a blessing."
Why beeswax? Well, that's the connection back to her childhood. "My great-grandfather was a unique man," she says with a laugh. "He was a vegetarian cattle rancher who was also a chiropractor and a beekeeper. He had bee hives when I was very young, and there was something almost mystical about them. They were really intriguing."
Since The Beeswax Co. had a solid customer base, Flores spent the first five years she owned the company focusing on becoming a master artisan at making 100 percent beeswax candles. Now, she's focusing on growing the company, and has seen business quadruple this year. ("It'll be eight times next year," she says.) In August, The Beeswax Co. got its biggest client yet: TJX Companies, owners of TJ Maxx, Home Goods and Marshalls and its Canadian counterparts. Here, she discusses the secrets to her success.
Why beeswax candles?
When the general population thinks of candles, they think of wax, color and scent. Beeswax candles are different: They're all golden with no scents. When I was thinking about buying the company, I did lots of research and it was so fascinating. The two main things are purity and integrity of the beeswax. It's easy to import beeswax, but that takes the heart and soul out of this. We really value the relationship with our beekeepers. Often, we go to their homes to pick up beeswax. And one thing that is different about us is we have a high-end line of hand-burnished candles. If you see this hand burnish, you know you are buying something that is sourced responsibly and is high quality with an artisan touch.
"WE ARE AT THE DINNER TABLE DURING THE WEEK AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE. WE ALWAYS SHARE OUR HIGHS AND LOWS; IT'S SO IMPORTANT AS THE CULTURE GETS FASTER AND FASTER. WHO WANTS TO DO THAT OVER FAST FOOD?"
What's a typical day like for you?
I drop my daughter at the bus and then drop off my son at daycare. Then it's lots of emails and calls at the office. I’m 9-5 every day, and I never take work home with me. That's one of my values. And I still try to do 30 minutes per day of hand burnish. I stay connected that way.
How is your family involved in the business?
My husband was on staff the first couple years, and through this, he became a beekeeper. He got his first hive about four years ago. Now we have 13. We use them for the business, but mostly what we do with them is educational. People say they hate bees, and that hurts my heart. If you like produce, you don’t hate bees. So we have different events at libraries or schools or businesses where we bring our observation hives and talk about bees.
Do you have an at-home food or drink ritual?
Our challenge is time, but we love our Dripping Springs farmers' market and we have a garden nearby. We love cooking, it's very therapeutic. Dinner time is very important to our family. We are at the dinner table during the week as much as possible. We always share our highs and lows; it's so important as the culture gets faster and faster. Who wants to do that over fast food? And we are always trying to find new ways to incorporate honey into our meals. Honey and beeswax are influenced heavily by what bees pollinate, so we are always figuring out ways to incorporate that into our food at home. I love cheese and honey together, it’s classic. Desserts, too. My favorite right now is French lavender honey, but it changes with the season.
How do you recharge?
When I am feeling lots of pressure, I always go back to the burnish. When my daughter was a baby, I’d do it after she finally fell asleep, and that’s when I fell in love with it.