From Lawyers to Creatives
How two South Florida attorneys took a leap of faith and started a career full of passion and fun
What is the name of your business and what is your product or service?
TAJA Collection. We create completely customizable home accessories (currently candles, diffusers, and vases). Think: personalization beyond a simple monogram. If you want to engrave your wedding vows on the candle, we will do that (and we have done that). If you want to put your dog’s face on a candle, we will do that too!
What inspired you to start your business? How did you go from Law to TAJA?
It was definitely by accident. We were both practicing attorneys for the same BigLaw law firm in Miami. It was the holidays and we were looking for gifts for our assistants. They loved candles but everything on the market seemed so impersonal. We were looking for ways to make the gift more thoughtful, and add a personal touch, but we couldn’t find anything. Once that seed was planted it sort of became an obsession until eventually we were making candles in my kitchen and giving the law firm our notice.
How do you feel working with a partner has helped your business?
How much time do you have? Without Annabelle, I would never have had the guts to do this. She keeps me grounded and talks me off the ledge when the fires seem too wild to put out. She holds me accountable, which helps me stay on top of my to-do list and more importantly to prioritize that list. I should probably mention that I am currently 7.5 months pregnant and having Annabelle as my partner means that I can sleep at night (well as much sleep as you get in your third trimester) because she has the energy, work-ethic and brain of two people and forces me to go home and relax while she holds down the fort. If you haven’t noticed, she is honestly the most thoughtful person I know—which is our core value—so her just literally being herself reminds me why we started this in the first place.
What do you think you do differently to separate yourself from your competitors? Would you say there is something extra special you add to your business?
Something that’s amazing is we don’t have a true competitor. Our category is thoughtful gifting. So we don’t really see ourselves as competing with other candle brands, or other personalization brands. The customization is what truly sets us apart. We like to say the possibilities are endless, and we really mean it. You can engrave anything you can dream up on our products: a picture of your pet, your company’s logo, your dad’s signature, the lyrics to your favorite song, an inspirational quote—seriously anything!
How do you keep your customers loyal and wanting to stay with your brand?
This is always at the front of our minds. Aside from providing truly special products, it’s really about doing all the little things right. Those things that can be easy to skip, but really add up: answering customer emails in a timely manner, apologizing when something’s not right, noticing a typo in someone’s order and taking the time to call the customer to correct it, hand-writing personal notes for each order, the list could go on.
How do you feel Social Media has affected your business?
Social media is a godsend. Remember, we’re two lawyers who decided to start making candles. We came into this completely blind, knowing very little about marketing or advertising. If we can do social media, anyone can! It’s an amazing time to be an entrepreneur. Social media is a free outlet that allows you to express yourself creatively directly to your consumer. We spend a lot of our time on our social media because we see a direct correlation between posting and sales. Social media is also one of the best resources to build our community. We are constantly DMing with clients to answer questions, watching our clients’ stories to see their reactions to their custom creations, and polling our customers for their opinions on our latest products. Recently, we launched a new fragrance and let our instagram followers decide on the fragrance name.
What piece of advice can you give someone just starting out?
Just launch. If we waited until our website was perfect, we wouldn’t be where we are today. It sounds crazy (especially for two Type-A attorneys) but we never even wrote a business plan. You can have research and numbers with pivot tables and graphs and the most beautifully organized business plan, but if you don’t have sales or proof of concept, you really don’t have much. You’re never going to feel ready and that’s ok because you will learn as you go, I promise.
What are your goals for the rest of 2018?
Too many to list! Our main goals are (1) hitting key sales numbers, and (2) expanding our team while retaining our core values and TAJA culture. We also have goals to launch new products and collab with like-minded brands. Only good stuff ahead!
What app can you not live without?
Amazon. Amazon is going to take over the world! I don’t think there is a day that passes that we don’t order something on Amazon. Prime now is also genius, and so helpful when you’re in a pinch!
Have you read any books, or received any advice that has had a positive impact on your business or in life? Please share.
Books: You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay is the book I give to everyone. It changed the way I see the world and I often find myself re-visiting it.
Best Business Advice:
Be open to the fact that tomorrow you may love what you hated yesterday. It’s easy to get stubborn and stuck in your ideas. Allowing ourselves (truthfully constantly forcing ourselves) to pivot in this constantly-evolving world has been so key for us.
Where can we find TAJA ?
Follow us on instagram @tajacollection or visit us at our HQ in Wynwood: 219 NW 20th St #102, Miami, FL 33127