Mei Xu, Founder of Chesapeake Bay Candle
"My husband and I resigned from our companies in 1994. We went to the Charlotte Gift Fair in North Carolina to get feedback from people there. We set up a booth that was like a bazaar, a garage sale. Truly, it was an interesting way to narrow down our options. But from that booth came the truth-;we needed to focus on candles. Maybe it was because it was September and people were looking for holiday gifts, but the candles sold better than the others. From that point on, we were focused."
"The big obstacle for small entrepreneurs who want to make a unique product is the scale. When we went into business, factories weren’t cooperative. Most shipped forty containers of one style. It’s hard to say, 'I want to order 300 of this product in this color and 500 in that color.' The factory would say, 'You need to give me an order for 20,000 pieces.' The nature of mass production is such that at the push of a button, you produce two or three thousand pieces each hour. We needed our own factory."
"When I was alone for a year in New York, it was difficult. I was alone and my parents and all my friends were all back in China. But I learned you need to go through some soul-searching to understand what your strength is and how you want to apply it. Life has this way of offering you a different course."
Inc., Photograph via ILCTR