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Mitch Davis: “Live in a family where almost everyone is a lawyer”

In the face of extreme challenges, it doesn’t help to be so forceful into your one way of thinking or that your idea on solution is the way out. Of course, that could be your solution. While in a tough circumstances, your best asset can be to hold tight, breath and not let the pressure […]

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In the face of extreme challenges, it doesn’t help to be so forceful into your one way of thinking or that your idea on solution is the way out. Of course, that could be your solution. While in a tough circumstances, your best asset can be to hold tight, breath and not let the pressure get to you with advice and support of those around you, then make your decisions smartly. Being cool under fire is real grit!


I had the pleasure of interviewing Mitch Davis. Mitch is a music industry veteran who produced concerts for public, private and charity events featuring talented top artists such as Weezer, Blake Shelton, Cheap Trick, The Go-Go’s, Kid Rock, Thomas Rhett, Sam Moore and many more. Mitch is a lawyer by trade, but after a period working with Creative Artists Agency in Los Angeles, he went on to be involved in several tech startups and launched a small record label distributed by Capitol Music Group/UMG.


Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
My good friend, Ellia Kassoff, has been having fantastic fun and success redeveloping and relaunching cool retro brands such as Leaf Brands, Hydrox Cookies, and Astro Pop. He is currently working on bringing KB Toys back to the marketplace. His drive and his success in relaunching brands was an inspiration to me. To bring back something well-loved from the past is unique and special. Not something to be done without respect and admiration, or a keen eye on the quality people had known and loved.

Can you share your story of Grit and Success?

Bringing back ILLUMINATIONS has been an idea I’ve had for a while, and the process of relaunch has taken time, hard work and perseverance. Obtaining the trademark was pivotal, and there were real challenges negotiating with corporate lawyers for Yankee Candle, that owned the ILLUMINATIONS trademark. After that, it was a matter of searching out resources used during the successful growth period of original freestanding brand. And defining a direction for the reemerging brand that would be both reverential and excitingly new.

Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey?

Coming to the retail realm with a famous and highly successful father, Clive Davis, has complexity. With a keen eye for quality and style, my father sets the bar high; I want to live up to that. People often expect that this is not a normal, bootstrap business startup, yet in reality ILLUMINATIONS struggles are the very same as anyone else starting a small business. There is a learning curve whenever you get into a business realm that is new to you and there are inevitable challenges that have to be converted into opportunities and learnings.

Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?

Continuing ambition in the face of adversity is not easy. I can attest to that having been part of several tech startups. The notion of getting back into development mode and relaunching a significant brand many people knew and loved fills me with inspiration. These days I am driven by the new and different challenges in this business startup and in everyday life.

So, how are things going today?

We are emerging out of development mode, just now launching our first Signature Scented candles — which are really an extension of the original ILLUMINATIONS best-selling, signature scents. I am very proud that of our first 12 fragrances, 9 are the very same ones people knew and loved. The 3 completely new fragrances are also amazing and were created with the same inspiration as the classic scents. We know people will love them when they get a chance to smell them.

How did Grit lead to your eventual success?

I’ll update you in the future, right now we are happily on the road to achieving success. Your readers can check us out at www.illuminations.shop and use a discount code for purchase of our Signature Scented candles: thrive (that or check us out in places like Amazon shortly)

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Funniest mistake in starting didn’t start out all that funny. When we started production on our first batch of candles we had some cosmetic issues, and well, you learn the hard way that pre-production samples can be very different than candles from the production line. We learned the hard way that you need to expect the unexpected, anticipate pitfalls and ask lots of questions in the development stage.

What do you think makes your company stand out?

Our heritage story. As well as our focus on charitable giving, the relit ILLUMINATIONS cares about our community and plans to make a difference.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

It is vital to have a team of amazing, diversely talented people who support each other and believe they are doing something special in bringing ILLUMINATIONS back to life. There were real moments of feeling discouraged and almost giving up, but having life balance and lots of laughs along the way allows us to persevere with intention and integrity.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are?

Without Pamela Donnellan, who was part of the original ILLUMINATIONS team in the 2000s, we wouldn’t have the original knowledge base and keen understanding of the high ILLUMINATIONS standard of quality to build from. And I was very grateful to get advice at the outset from Wally Arnold, the original founder of ILLUMINATIONS, whose dream for the business I always revered.

Based on your experience, can you share 5 pieces of advice about how one can develop Grit?

  1. In the face of extreme challenges, it doesn’t help to be so forceful into your one way of thinking or that your idea on solution is the way out. Of course, that could be your solution. While in a tough circumstances, your best asset can be to hold tight, breath and not let the pressure get to you with advice and support of those around you, then make your decisions smartly. Being cool under fire is real grit!
  2. Live in a family where almost everyone is a lawyer. Where group meals, discussions and outings can resemble the Socratic Method — aka lots of arguing. You can develop real grit that way, though I don’t recommend it.
  3. Being a New York Mets fan. This season was brutal. Showed some amazing progress into being a wildcard playoff competitor… only to falter and come short…. Again. Nothing worse than being a “believer” of a team owned by the Wilpon family, who I’m sure are wonderful people, but they did lose most of their non-baseball money to Bernie Madoff. That gives you real grit… and shades of blue and orange.
  4. Living in America these days. Don’t know if that gives me grit, but it inspires me get into “zen” mode. Toxic fighting out there now just isn’t great. Peace and Love to all!
  5. My inner compass tends towards shyness and away from being too public. So actually completing this questionnaire, or doing any publicity, takes some resolve. For me getting past my personal fears or blocks it is a great achievement. But we all have to step things up to the next level to achieve our dreams. That is where we build real grit.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I’d like to start a movement to embrace positivity in everyday life. In today’s world, it seems like this is in short supply. A time ago, like many of you, I had a trying set of health scares. That wasn’t easy for me, but through the pain I forced myself to examine what was important. Today there are so many negative forces which divide and take hold in bad ways. I try to learn from those influences I’m seeing in the world and think many others could too… we can choose to embrace positivity and making a meaningful difference to others in a shift towards a happier life and community.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Visit us at illuminations.shop or follow us on any social media!

IG: @illuminationscandles

FB: /IlluminationsCandles

T: @IlluminationsH

P: /IlluminationsOfficial

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

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