Don’t compare yourself. Everyone is on their own unique journey. Don’t waste your time comparing your journey to others. I did this a lot when I first started my business, and my most unique creations came after I stopped doing this.
Take a break. This is something I still struggle with, but when I am tapped out of energy closing my shop for a couple days is not the end of the world.
You can’t do everything yourself. I started learning how to do everything, and I felt I was the only one that could do it. This year I started outsourcing more and it has really helped with my workload.
As a part of my series about “Black Men and Women of The C-Suite”, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Tiana Coats.
Originally founded in 2015, Winding Wick Candles is the brainchild of Dallas native Tiana Coats. After sitting in her cubicle at her desk job, Tiana dreamed of starting her own business, and to move away from the ho-hum life of a 9–5. After identifying her creative interests, Tiana came up with the idea to start a candle business and a few weeks later quit her job to pursue Winding Wick Candles full time.
After taking a hiatus to focus on raising her son alongside her husband, the business fired back up again in October of 2018, and she began to build back her brand. After experimenting with different formulations and packaging, Tiana came up with her now iconic latte design, setting her products apart from typical candles. This innovation resulted in a massive surge in orders, and setting Tiana on the path she’s on today expanding her products and brand.
Since then, Tiana launched her successful Youtube channel, garnering over 21K+ subscribers, strengthened her presence and relationship with Etsy, and has been featured in national press for her products. Tiana is excited to keep pushing the boundaries of candle making and branding, and looks forward to sharing her passion for creativity and business with others.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I have always been a creative person, and I wanted to have a career doing what I love. I went out every week to buy different candles, but I never saw anything that was really unique in stores. I had never made a candle before, but I started the long process of testing and experimenting with fun designs.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
I had the amazing opportunity to enter a contest hosted by Etsy. I put a lot of thought into my video entry, and I was one of the winners! I was flown to the Etsy HQ in Brooklyn. It was such a valuable experience.
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?
I had no idea that candle wicks played a huge role in candle making. In one of my first tests, I overwicked a candle and every piece of furniture in my room was covered in soot! I learned that it is important to have a well wicked candle.
Can you share three reasons with our readers about why it’s really important for a business to have a diverse executive team?
1. A diverse team allows for the business to be exposed to different cultural perspectives.
2. There is so much value you can learn from another’s experience.
3. Diversity is a must. Minorities have been underrepresented in these roles for far too long, and it’s important to have an inclusive company.
More broadly can you describe how this can have an effect on our culture?
Seeing more women, races, religions, LGBTQ people in these positions will send the message to younger generations that they are capable of leadership as well. Coming from a mixed race background (I am half Filipino and half Black), and having a mixed race child (my son is Black, Filipino and White), I think representation is non-negotiable in 2020 and beyond.
Can you recommend three things the community/society/the industry can do help address the root of the diversity issues in executive leadership?
1. Offer mentorship in communities to those who are seeking these opportunities, but may not have the resources that others have.
2. Make diversity a strong aspect of company culture.
3. As a society I think it is so important to support minority business owners. I notice that companies like Etsy have been putting a spotlight on minority groups for quite some time, and it’s refreshing to see that many other companies are showcasing work from black artisans.
How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?
Leadership is not just about telling a team what to do. You need to be an example and create a healthy and inviting work culture to promote not only the growth of you business, but also, the growth of your team.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
1. Set big goals. Never think that a goal is too big to achieve.
2. Plan. Planning will help you reach your goals.
3. Don’t compare yourself. Everyone is on their own unique journey. Don’t waste your time comparing your journey to others. I did this a lot when I first started my business, and my most unique creations came after I stopped doing this.
4. Take a break. This is something I still struggle with, but when I am tapped out of energy closing my shop for a couple days is not the end of the world.
5. You can’t do everything yourself. I started learning how to do everything, and I felt I was the only one that could do it. This year I started outsourcing more and it has really helped with my workload.
You are a person of enormous 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? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I want to influence people to not have limiting beliefs. Sometimes we tell ourselves we can’t do something before we even try. People are capable of so much and I want to encourage others to believe in themselves and explore their passions. Don’t let others tell you that you are not capable!
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
Oprah has said that she doesn’t believe in luck. All of her fortune came from her putting herself in the positions to seize the opportunities and I can agree with this so much! I work hard behind the scenes to create unique products and great customer experiences. Everything I have ever earned so far was not by chance.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
Oprah! She is such a huge inspiration. Seeing her come from humble beginnings to the empire she has now is definitely inspiring especially as a Woman of Color.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
For more information you can visit: https://linktr.ee/windingwickcandles
This was very meaningful, thank you so much!