Maryland Small Business / Success Stories
Local candle company’s success shines during pandemic
By Amanda Winters /
April 11, 2022
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When the pandemic struck Maryland in 2020, the last thing Henry and Mora Reed expected was a new way of life and an up-and-coming business. But now, just over two years later, the family’s candle-making skills have turned into a glowing success.

It all began in a Pigtown apartment back in 2017, when Mora was pregnant with the couple’s daughter, Zoe. In an effort to remove toxic chemicals from everyday use, the Reeds were inspired to create homemade candles free of phthalates and parabens with a clean- and slow-burning process.

With that, the Reeds laid the foundation for their business, Zoe & Co. Candle Company.

“I used to vent to Henry on bad days,” said Mora. “His response was always, ‘Start your own [business] – you have it in you.’"

But at the time, the candle-making hobby was just that—a hobby. There was no way to know how their lives would change in a few short years.

Fast-forward to March 2020 and a record number of closures and layoffs across the globe, including Mora’s. It was time for the couple to take control of their own narrative.

“We decided to turn our candle-making hobby into something we could monetize and share with the community,” said Mora. “With my background in product management and my husband’s career in finance, paired with our passion for candles, we made the ultimate husband and wife duo.”

Now with the business in full swing, Zoe & Co. Candle Company quickly learned the importance of digital marketing to grow its sales and customer reach. With social media tools like Facebook Messenger and Instagram Reels, the family-owned business has maintained a 57 percent customer return rate, with a nine percent increase in average order value year over year.

“Social media has made it so easy to share our journey and gain the trust of our community,” said Mora. “By showing them our sustainable packaging and use of clean ingredients first-hand, as well as having access to their reviews and feedback, we’re able to conduct business transparency: a practice we are proud to uphold.”

Now located in Towson, the Black-owned business has reached communities far and wide – including shipping orders to HGTV hosts and Grammy-nominated recording artists. But even with its success, Zoe & Co. Candle Company remains focused on one thing: family. The Baltimore County business even has a candle dedicated to Mora’s late mother, Roxanne, featuring an aromatic blend of scents that her mom adored.

“The future is a motivator, which is why it’s so important to support Black-owned businesses,” said Henry. “With constant obstacles in our community, we want to teach Zoe her worth, and show her that she can be a Black girl with a successful business. Family is our main priority, and cherishing moments with Zoe comes before anything. Time is the most expensive thing you have that you will never get back.”

The Reeds never thought it would be possible to build a business like this, but because of social media, it made it simple for them to reach people during the pandemic. They constantly hear from customers and friends through Instagram about the positivity and warmth that their candles have provided during tough times. Being able to cultivate a successful business at home during a pandemic has provided the Reeds with unforgettable lessons, such as how to properly market and advertise products in a way that fits the brand’s image.

In addition to learning essential business practices, the couple is grateful to have found a focus that allows them to utilize both of their college degrees and career paths into something they are passionate about and can share with the community.

“You never know where your journey will lead you, so take chances and create opportunities that are right for you,” said Mora. “If you fail, fail fast. Get back up, adjust accordingly, and keep your momentum going, no matter what.”

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