From West to East - Meet The Vagabond Studios
Rebecca Lavallee is not afraid of big changes. The owner of The Vagabond Studios, Rebecca has moved from one coast to another, setup a temporary shop in the sought-after Area 506 Container Village, and now has opened her new, permanent location in Uptown Saint John. We had a chance to chat with her to find out the secret to her success.
Q: What was the dream behind starting your business?
A: I started out making jewellery, I wanted to travel and make high quality items that were small enough for me to make things wherever I travelled. I've been lucky enough to combine my love of travel and metalsmithing. That is the inspiration behind the name of The Vagabond Studios.
More recently, the dream was to be a stay-at-home dog mom. I want to hang out with my dogs and make cool stuff, and hopefully make money while doing it. You could also say that I don’t want to work for other people, I want to be my own boss.
Q: What sets your products apart from others on the market?
A: I really believe that so much of selling items is your personality and the connection that you have with your customers. I try to provide high quality items for the right price point, gold-plated jewellery, silver jewellery, good quality leather pieces and most recently I've added candles. I stay away from bakery scents for candles, that market is really saturated with other makers and I personally don't enjoy those scents. My aesthetic is simple, but many people have commented about how they like the packaging.
Q: How do you choose the scents and designs for your candles, jewellery and bags?
A: It's all travel inspired! When I first started making candles, I named them after places I’d travelled to. I’d smell fragrances and add my travel spin to it. I’m sensitive to smells, so proper formulation is really important to me. It also has to be safe to burn the candle around my dogs (and humans obviously). For jewellery and leatherwork, I wanted quality and simplicity.
Q: Can you share a challenge you face with building your business and how you overcome it?
A: Social Media - it’s always a challenge. You just keep plugging away at it and it seems like it’s just always a looming challenge. It’s not the amount I should be posting or the time it takes, it’s the concept of social media. I don’t like it. I can post, I can do the content, but I don’t want to. You just do what you can and ignore all the people who say you should be doing more.
Q: How do you stay on top of industry trends and continue to innovate in your business?
A: I’m so new, I don’t have to innovate yet…or at least I don’t feel like I do. I found what works. I listen to my customers, and what they’re into. I do not spend hours on social media because that does not bring me joy. Spending too many hours on social media, following trends, doesn’t bring me any new ideas because social media algorithms are designed to bring me more of the same. I don’t want to be innovative or trendy - I want to be timeless. My aesthetic is minimalist and simplistic, and so is my approach to business.
Q: What advice would you give to someone interested in starting their own candle business?
A: Let me plagiarize Nike, Just Do It. If you have an idea, you have to make sure the numbers work, but if they do….you have to just do it! If it’s not financially viable as a business, then it’s a hobby. You need to be able to pay yourself a wage, otherwise have a job that pays the bills and a side hustle that brings you joy.
Talking with Rebecca has definitely revealed that being true to yourself really is the key to success. You don't need to have the latest thing, you don't need to fall over yourself trying to stay on top of trends. You need a connection with your customers and your own unique perspective to your products, a drive and a passion to live your life on your terms! You can visit The Vagabond Studios on Facebook and Instagram @thevagabondstudios.
Do you have an interesting story to tell about your business? We want to hear from you! Email firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know!