Cassity Brown of St. Brown & Co: “Making money is not a bad thing”

Making money is not a bad thing. I think a lot of people have associated making money with greed or taking advantage. But in reality, it’s an honor to make money as a small business owner. Making money means that there’s opportunity to invest back into the business to grow it. It means opportunity to […]

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Making money is not a bad thing. I think a lot of people have associated making money with greed or taking advantage. But in reality, it’s an honor to make money as a small business owner. Making money means that there’s opportunity to invest back into the business to grow it. It means opportunity to hire employees and support their livelihoods. It means affording financial freedom to my own life, at whatever degree that happens to be. Making money is not an ugly thing; it’s a resource to provide opportunity.

Many successful people reinvented themselves in a later period in their lives. Jeff Bezos worked in Wall Street before he reinvented himself and started Amazon. Sara Blakely sold office supplies before she started Spanx. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson was a WWE wrestler before he became a successful actor and filmmaker. Arnold Schwarzenegger went from a bodybuilder, to an actor to a Governor. McDonald’s founder Ray Kroc was a milkshake-device salesman before starting the McDonalds franchise in his 50’s.

How does one reinvent themselves? What hurdles have to be overcome to take life in a new direction? How do you overcome those challenges? How do you ignore the naysayers? How do you push through the paralyzing fear?

In this series called “Second Chapters; How I Reinvented Myself In The Second Chapter Of My Life “ we are interviewing successful people who reinvented themselves in a second chapter in life, to share their story and help empower others.

As a part of this interview series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Cassity Brown.

Cassity Brown is the founder & candlemaker at St. Brown & Co., a natural luxury candle brand based in Orange County, California. St. Brown & Co. is an expression of her personal creativity through design and business. Cassity approaches business by having the courage to take the next step and taking fast action.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we start, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?

I grew up with a very supportive family. School was always a huge focus; my grandma would go over flashcards with me at 4 years old and my dad spent endless hours on the living room floor with me going over Hooked on Phonics and times tables.

My house was always the gathering place for big family gatherings. All the major holidays and casual weekends were spent BBQing with all my aunts, uncles, and cousins. And nights before the big shin digs were spent prepping and baking with my mom in our kitchen.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Lauren Evarts Bosstick of The Skinny Confidential always says “Launch fast and adjust.” This is a major theme in my life and my business.

Personally, if something isn’t working, I launch myself out of that situation and move on to the next thing. I’ve spent so much time wallowing in things that are obviously not right for me (based on a gut check). So I’ve recently adopted the “Launch fast and adjust” mindset to my personal life. Sometimes a hard right turn is the best decision in the quest of finding what aligns.

In business, I used this mindset quite literally. I had the idea for St. Brown & Co. on October 24, 2020. The idea for candles literally just exploded in my head, and I moved fast. First, I bought a small batch of materials to see if I even liked candle making. When I figured out that I enjoyed the process, I attached a brand to the craft. I set my launch date before even finding my first supplier. I knew if I gave myself too much time to think, I would talk myself out of launching the business. So, I set the December 31, 2020 launch date. Was it perfect? No. But I made it.

I continue to adopt this philosophy every time I feel myself slowing down. Whenever I’m stuck on something, I snap myself out of it and move as fast as possible. Because action is almost always better than stewing. Launch fast and adjust.

You have been blessed with much success. In your opinion, what are the top three qualities that you possess that have helped you accomplish so much? If you can, please share a story or example for each.

Guts. It takes guts to put yourself out there and start a business; and to continue to build a business. The risk and fear never stops. It was a risk to place my first order with my supplier to build out my inventory. I just took that risk again when I placed an order almost 20x that size in preparation for this holiday season. Am I nervous? Yes. Do I know it’s necessary to continue to grow my business? Also yes.

Resourcefulness. I had no clue how to make candles until I learned how to make candles. I Googled my way to this point. Even if I don’t exactly know what question to ask, I Google until I figure out what I’m trying to know.

Friendliness. Businesses are run by people. And people generally respond well to being treated with respectful kindness. By being personable and friendly at pop-up shops, I have gotten wholesale deals, press, discount codes, and invitations to other shopping events. People do business with people. And people remember how you treat them.

Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion about ‘Second Chapters’. Can you tell our readers about your career experience before your Second Chapter?

I have been a student my entire life. I have my Bachelors in Business Administration and MBA from Chapman University in Orange, California. After graduating undergrad, I started law school. I found myself in-house in corporate internships when I started the JD/MBA joint degree program as a 2L. From there, I realized I enjoyed the business side of being in-house more than the actual law. I found the entire legal profession extremely stressful, and it was severely impacting my ability to enjoy life. So, I made the call to drop the JD. It was such an emotional time, I didn’t tell anyone other than my parents for months. I felt embarrassment and fear of what people would think. But I knew that embarrassment would pass. That was a way lesser evil than continuing a life in a career I didn’t want to be in anymore. As tough as it was, I’m grateful for my time in the law. It made me smarter. And it also forced me to take charge of my own destiny with no clear direction of the future.

I finished my MBA in August 2020 and started St. Brown & Co. in October.

And how did you “reinvent yourself” in your Second Chapter?

I started doing what I wanted to do instead of doing what I thought I should be doing. I kept taking leaps, despite being scared as hell. I’m still doing that.

Can you tell us about the specific trigger that made you decide that you were going to “take the plunge” and make your huge transition?

It was literally a thought explosion at about 11pm on October 24, 2020. I was already half asleep in bed when the idea for candles popped into my head. I catapulted out of bed, grabbed my computer, and started watching YouTube videos (shout out to Jeff Standley from Standley Handcrafted!). After I got a few supplies from Michaels to test to see if I even liked candle making, I just rolled with it from there and moved really fast.

What did you do to discover that you had a new skillset inside of you that you haven’t been maximizing? How did you find that and how did you ultimately overcome the barriers to help manifest those powers?

I kept following my instincts. Once I had the idea for candles, I Googled, tested, built a brand, built a website, found a supplier, ordered inventory, and just kept going. I figure out the next step, and then I jump into it.

How are things going with this new initiative? We would love to hear some specific examples or stories.

Things are progressing well! St. Brown & Co. is in two shops, Wildflower Floral in Dana Point and Kim & Cloth in Temecula, and we’re working on wholesale and a collaboration candle for The Petal Bar in Temecula. We have done several collaboration candles with real estate agents for closing gifts. And I have just signed up for GS1 US barcodes in preparation to get our candles in larger retailers (Nordstrom is the dream — calling it out to manifest!).

Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

Felicia Shelby from The Social Agenda has been a tremendous help in building the St. Brown & Co. brand. She has opened her home for our branding photoshoots, she styles the shoots, coordinates models, and shares St. Brown & Co. with her community.

Working with Felicia has connected me with the Temecula small business community, which is one of the most supportive communities I’ve ever seen. The business owners and the community are all about sharing each other’s content and buying local. It’s because of Felicia and her community sharing about St. Brown & Co. that our candles are in the Kim & Cloth boutique in Old Town Temecula!

Thank you, Felicia. I’m incredibly grateful for your style and support.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started in this new direction?

I sent candles to Natalie Rogers, owner of Klassy Network, earlier this year. She graciously posted about them on her Instagram story, and I gained a few followers from that. One of the girls that followed me, Anna Bredy from Arizona, ended up reaching out for an informational interview because she is starting her own marketing business. It was a great chat! Then when I was at a pop-up shop in California at the end of Summer, I got a DM from Anna telling me she was in the area. She stopped by and we got to meet in person!

So from sending candles, to an Instagram follow, to a Zoom meeting, to meeting in person, I now have a new friend, which I think is pretty interesting!

Did you ever struggle with believing in yourself? If so, how did you overcome that limiting belief about yourself? Can you share a story or example?

Theoretically, no; but in practice, yes.

I’ve always been confident in my ability to succeed, that’s never been a problem for me. But I have a tendency to get stuck in my thoughts, which prevents me from succeeding.

I was recently in a business scenario that was lucrative, but toxic. And the toxicity of the situation was taking up so much of my head space — I would think about it on the weekend, during the week, I was losing sleep over it, and my anxiety levels were through the roof. I was stuck in my thoughts. Was I going to stay in this situation because it was lucrative? Or was I going to move on and trust that I was going to find another lucrative situation that wasn’t toxic? I got a ton of conflicting advice from my advisors. But the ultimate decision was up to me.

I bucked up and used the “launch fast and adjust” mindset once again. I decided — I’m out. Then allowed my brain to explode with ideas.

Ridding my head of the toxic business scenario allowed me the space to think of and act on other business moves. I decided fast, and moved faster.

In my own work I usually encourage my clients to ask for support before they embark on something new. How did you create your support system before you moved to your new chapter?

My parents have always been incredibly supportive. And when I know I’m doing something a little too risky for their immediate support, I turn to the support of my business-owner friends that will definitely hype me up.

I have also created a self-support system with the one and only pillar being just GO. When things get tricky, I throw myself into it FAST. If it works, fantastic. If it doesn’t work, I know sooner than later.

Starting a new chapter usually means getting out of your comfort zone, how did you do that? Can you share a story or example of that?

Honestly just throwing myself right into it. Jumping into the metaphorical deep end.

On a more practical note — another thing I’ve picked up from Lauren Evarts Bosstick is taking ice cold showers. Ice cold showers are incredibly uncomfortable, but every time I do it, I mentally decide to physically move my body into the cold and stay there. And then it’s done. I have beat my mind and the resistance to be uncomfortable.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started leading my organization” and why? Please share a story or example for each.

Ask for help. Don’t waste time thinking people won’t want to help you, because generally, they want to help. I was getting a vitamin IV injection at Verve Holistic Health in Tustin, and there was another person also getting an IV. We struck up conversation, and it turned out he did SEO. I was in search for SEO support, but his prices were way out of my budget. So, I asked him if knew anyone in my budget, and he directed me to two specific resources that were affordable for my business. And I hired them!

People want to see you succeed. I know it’s scary to put yourself out there, and not everyone will be supportive, but most of the time, people like to see other people succeed, so put yourself out there!

People buy from people. I just recently made my personal Instagram public. I didn’t really want to be the face of my brand, but I’ve realized that opening myself up to the public is humanizing St. Brown & Co. We’re not just candles, there’s a person behind the brand.

Nothing is worth sacrificing your mental health. If I find myself overthinking about something negative, I’m learning to cut it out. And cut it out fast. So I can move on with my life and my business.

Making money is not a bad thing. I think a lot of people have associated making money with greed or taking advantage. But in reality, it’s an honor to make money as a small business owner. Making money means that there’s opportunity to invest back into the business to grow it. It means opportunity to hire employees and support their livelihoods. It means affording financial freedom to my own life, at whatever degree that happens to be. Making money is not an ugly thing; it’s a resource to provide opportunity.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?

I would inspire a movement for small business. Owning a business offers an opportunity for creativity and relative control in your future. And opportunity to scale to the level of satisfactory comfort. There is a massive amount of pride that comes along with owning your own business, and I think it’s important to do things you’re proud of. There are character-building challenges and continuous opportunities to pivot when the environment changes. Small business affords an opportunity for generational wealth and a center pillar for families to come together.

We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them. 🙂

I would love to have a chat with Emma Grede. I met her once briefly at the Girlboss Rally in 2019 while I was wearing Good American jeans. I love her story, coming up through the branding partnership world and now being a major entrepreneur and working with the Kardashians. I found it incredibly inspiring that she had the courage to pitch Kris Jenner with a business idea. I’d like to know how she continues to start and lead such successful businesses — particularly how she decides what to delegate vs. what she’s directly involved with. I also read (or heard on a podcast) that she was advised to make a public Instagram, so I’d also like to hear her thoughts on building her personal brand as an entrepreneur.

How can our readers further follow your work online?


Instagram: @stbrownco

Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!

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