Edward Sepulveda photo

Now that the holidays are here and much of what we put on hold in 2020 and 2021 is “kinda” behind us, I think placing joy at the top of our list as an indulgence we all deserve. The world looks and feels different, but our pleasures need not be inhibited anymore. With our new normal, sometimes only jubilation will do. If you’re a gift giver, this is the holiday year to show up! One of the things I love about the holidays is that when we take a moment to reflect on a person and truly consider what gift will put a smile on their face, we manifest happiness in that moment. I want to share with you two small business owners whose products have brought joy to my life in ways that were unexpected.

I’ve watched these company owners from afar and have admired their efforts in continuously stoking the fires of their entrepreneurial journey. Observing their resolve to put aside distractions and take actions of a prudent business owner is an unveiling reminder that starting a business is no small feat. No one sees the countless hours, the mistakes, the challenges. All people deserve recognition for the hard work they put into building something out of nothing. Some air time on a page can sometimes further someone’s career. Or at the very least, it may convey to the public that their work is impressive and ought to be seen. Coming from me it says, “Keep going. You’re doing great!”

This holiday year you might want to put your eyes on these two women business owners who are starting small, yet thinking big. I took the time to ask them a few questions regarding their businesses. Remember, when you purchase something from a small business, an actual person does a happy dance.

The Modern Woman Planner
Joselyn Martinez, owner
Instagram: @joselynmartinez
Website: https://joselynmartinez.com

Joselyn and I became social media friends a few months back. When I came across her Instagram, I had a deja vu moment because she embodies the personality and characteristics of so many of my previous college friends. With her work on mindset and entrepreneurial growth for the modern woman, I was instantly drawn. I purchased her Modern Woman Planner and the contents of the planner really got me to think! I put in writing exactly how much money I want to manifest in my business. I wrote out my actual big, humongous goals. As a professional chef and entrepreneur, I inhabit a lifelong search for motivation and for ways to be more productive. Joselyn’s Modern Woman Planner is the first planner to bring me to action. Could it be that it is a concentrated version that pushes one to write out the nuts and bolts of your goals with more specificity? Could it be that her instagram posts are so poignant and make one have many aha moments that one has no choice but to take action? Whatever it is, her techniques on mastering a mindset that fosters a keen utilization of neuroscience and business systems assists the modern woman by quickly identifying and removing any unnecessary and pointless distractions. She does it without using the large words or scientific jargon, which makes it so it’s accessible to all. Get this planner for that go-getting, high-achieving, hungry chef entrepreneur or baker in your life. They have a business to run and a condensed quarterly planner will keep them accountable to their written word. Read what Joselyn had to say about her inspiration for the MWP and her future goals for her company.

AmNews: What inspired you to create the Modern Woman Planner?

Joselyn: I created the Modern Woman Planner because I didn’t want to carry a big, bulky planner as a busy, commuting NYC woman anymore. Especially a spiral-bound planner that would snag my sweaters, cling to my purse pockets, or tangle in with my keys.
I kept buying different planners and never felt satisfied with them. They had too many pages that I would leave blank, they were too bulky, and they just didn’t have a planning system that worked for me.
After creating my inspiration lifestyle brand and running a few Modern Women Mastermind Groups, I realized other ladies had the same issue.
I spoke to a designer friend, created the planner’s first pages, and sent them out as a free download to my mailing list every month.
I started getting a lot of positive feedback from the Mastermind ladies because they finally had a planning system to complete their projects. At this time, I knew I had to keep going. After a few years of sending the sheets out as a free download, I decided it was time for the physical planner to be born.

AmN: What challenges did you come across and how did you handle it?

JM: Getting a designer that would deliver my planner on time was difficult.
The designer was always late. She had loads of personal stories on why the planner wasn’t ready. My work ethic doesn’t leave room for excuses much, but I know things happen. I tried to understand.
The planner had a series of mistakes. It was bad.
I had enough reasons to give up, but like my leading quote says: Decide before you start, that you will not quit, that you will never ever give up.
I had another problem. As I tried to free my mind from worries, I hiked on a trail near my home with my boyfriend. I stopped to read a message because I kept getting lots of notification messages coming in. A fellow entrepreneur was accusing me of copyright infringement and stealing her trademark. She had posted my Instagram and the planner’s Instagram and asked her following to report me. I can describe it as a cold feeling running through me.

She sent me a direct message demanding I cease and desist. She asked me where her lawyers should send their letter to. I decided I was going to use my prefrontal cortex. I tried to reason with her, saying we should look at the situation and have our lawyers check it, but she kept trying to “cancel” me on social media. I didn’t understand how someone would not do the research first, and I, in fact, now hold the registered trademark.

AmN: What is your dream for the company?

JM: My goal is to have the business serve as many people as possible. I went to an all-girl high school where I learned women were just as capable as anyone else to reach their goals. I hope to create one for little girls in the future and eventually all individuals.

AmN: What do you see next for you?

JM: I am grateful to have created what I have thus far. I envision expansion and making a few variations of planner styles. I’d love to bring my lifestyle workshops across the U.S.

The Bronx Candle Co.
Ashlynn Sarubbi, owner
Instagram: @thebronxcandlecompany
Website: https://thebronxcandlecompany.com

Ashlynn announced the launch of her company, The Bronx Candle Co., a few days before she turned the age of 25. Now that her company is one year old, she still stands solid as the entrepreneur and owner of her small batch candle company. She does it with grace and a few dashes of street style, a total deliberate homage to her beloved Bronx, where she was born and raised. As her proud aunt, I fell in love with her concept and was impressed by her determination to contribute to her Bronx community in the form of a business. She has big goals and is already starting to give back in big and little ways, including donating a percentage of her past sales to Black Girls Code, a nonprofit organization for women of color in technology. Her soy-based candles are sure to impress because they are all handcrafted and eco friendly. Their creative names evoke a sentiment and help to bring more intentionality into one’s life.

I like to make it a ritual to light one of her candles after I teach a cooking class and am tasked with cleaning up an extraordinary mess in my kitchen. Her candles have a nice gentle aroma that lingers, which is really great for removing any unwanted smells. With all the global stress and constant barrage of bad news, lighting a candle in your favorite room fosters a mental getaway, if even for a moment, of calm and relaxation. Ashlynn cares very much about nurturing healing energy and The Bronx Candle Co. does just that: helps affirm your place in this world. Self expression is so powerful. Lighting a candle while you meditate, read, cook, or engage in your favorite hobby is like an act of praise for yourself.

So whether you’re from the X or not, make sure to support her efforts by gifting one of her candles to your socially conscientious friends who also care about wellness and sustainability. I took the time to chat with Ashlynn regarding her business and I’m so excited to share her responses with you.

AmNews: What inspired you to create The Bronx Candle Co.?

Ashlynn: I was inspired to create The Bronx Candle Co. by my love of candles and handcrafts. I love using my hands to create and build different things around the house. Candles seemed like the perfect project to get myself into.

AmN: What challenges did you come across and how did you handle it?

AS: I think the most challenging parts of being the owner of a small candle business are social media marketing and maintaining hope for sales and engagement. Managing your own social media account is very different from doing so with your business. You have to try to stick to the theme of your business while also adhering to the trends of social media, but this is a job in itself. It’s extremely time consuming and not always as successful as you expect it to be, which can be discouraging. This ties into the other challenge of moving forward with the business even when sales and engagement are slow. I enjoy creating candles and content, but this requires money. When I don’t have as many customers, I don’t always have the financial means or mental will to move forward.

AmN: What is your dream for the company?
AS: My dream is to open a brick and mortar candle/home goods shop in the Bronx. Gentrification has been affecting different parts of NYC, which has made it difficult for local natives to live and create in their neighborhoods. I’d like to have my shop in the Bronx, where I was born and raised, to maintain local business ownership and show that local community members are just as much of an asset.

AmN: What do you see next for you?

AS: For the next chapter of my business, I’ll be performing a total rebranding. I’m hoping to create a clear-cut brand from my candles to my packaging that will expand my clientele. I’m also working towards offering a variety of candle scents and sizes within the next few months.

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