This week, we’re joined by candlemaker Amanda Brenneman-Brown to talk about how she moved from business development and education roles in credit unions to furniture refinishing and now candle making. Listen now:

Visit the ⁠Phoenix Phurnishings website⁠ to learn more about Amanda’s products.

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Jennifer Roland Cadiente 00:20

Hello, and welcome to Season Two of the Grow your side hustle podcast. This is the podcast for entrepreneurs who want to grow a side hustle into a second stream of income or their main job. I’m your host Jennifer Roland Cadiente. Today we’re joined by Amanda Brenneman-Brown, who is a former business development and community education officer from various credit unions and credit union associations and has now built her side hustle into her full time gig, which is Phoenix Phurnishings, LLC. She started with furniture, refinishing and moved into candlemaking. So we’re going to talk not only about how she built her side hustle, but how she’s pivoted over the years. So thanks for joining us today, Amanda.

Amanda Brenneman-Brown 01:12

Absolutely. Thank you so very much for having me.

Jennifer Roland Cadiente 01:15

So Amanda, and I knew each other as we worked together at a credit union many years ago. Now, I don’t understand how the time has had has passed as quickly as it has but it does.

Amanda Brenneman-Brown 01:27


Jennifer Roland Cadiente 01:30

And so Amanda had moved on to a different credit union, by the time that she decided to start her side hustle. So let’s talk a little bit about your side hustle and what, what made you want to do it?

Amanda Brenneman-Brown 01:42

Absolutely, absolutely. So my side hustle was called Phoenix Phurnishings, LLC. And I started it and the summer of 2017. And I jokingly say I started it because I was a baseball widow. My husband is a huge baseball fan. And he has the MLB package. So he can watch any major league game at any device anytime

Jennifer Roland Cadiente 02:08

Oh, there’s so many, you know, like you can pair it with football? And it’s like, it’s insane. There’s so many games every day.

Amanda Brenneman-Brown 02:16

Yes, yes, there are. And so he was totally engrossed with games and whatnot. And I still wanted to be like in the same room with him. But I was not as much of a fan as baseball as he is. So I started doing some furniture refinishing just as a fun little hobby while he watched baseball, and you know, trying to be thrifty and kind of make the spruce up the house a little bit just with some thrifted finds that I could make, look more about our decor and whatnot. And it started just as that. And I just posted a few pictures of some of these items just on my personal Facebook page. And people were really encouraging. And I thought, well, I really enjoy this. And it’s a great way to still spend time with my husband, but not have to watch baseball the whole time. So why not. And so I started just doing a couple of pieces here and there. And sold, sold those on like Facebook marketplace. And then I started getting requests for custom work. And so that was kind of like the birth of the actual business was doing a lot of furniture right off the get go and, and custom work. And I got to the point where I was doing pool tables and upholstery and entire people’s homes worth of furniture because they were renovating their homes. Wow. But yeah, it definitely kind of just grew from that in the corner of our basement.

Jennifer Roland Cadiente 03:49

Yeah. And so once you grew it to the point where you felt like you could leave the credit union, were you still just doing custom work? What kind of things were you doing?

Amanda Brenneman-Brown 04:05

So as you can imagine, everything kind of evolved. And I started getting asked to go to like vintage markets and artisan markets and sell your stuff there. And it’s a great marketing opportunity to get more custom clients if you go to these vintage and artisan markets. So I started doing that before I ever left the credit union. So this is about 2018. And I quickly realized that not everybody attends those markets to buy a hunch or a dresser and not always do those items sell so I started getting some more smaller things. Picking different thrifty finds that kind of match the aesthetic of what I was trying to accomplish. And just having the smaller things in the booth helped. And through going to the shows that really was eye opening because I was I was making my monthly salary and weekend at some of these shows, and it was it was this was good, I’m excited. And I really enjoy this. And it’s not so nine to five. And they don’t have to wear a suit.

Jennifer Roland Cadiente 05:15

So that is one thing about the financial industry. Yes. It’s not maybe as conservative as it used to be, but it still is very conservative and what we get to wear?

Amanda Brenneman-Brown 05:24

Yes, yes, yes, yes. So I enjoyed, you know, that ability to be creative, not only in the refinishing of stuff, but then like designing of the home decor and setting up the booth, and then watching other people enjoy it, too. And that was just really made my heart happy. So we really evolved into doing markets and shows, and that did help with marketing. And it got to the point where I was completely overwhelmed with custom furniture refinishing work.

Jennifer Roland Cadiente 05:59

Yeah, and that, you know, that’s always that hard balance. Because, you know, you want to make sure that the side hustle is going to last before you leave the main job. But you do get to that point where you can’t grow the side hustle anymore, because you’re so tired. Yeah, if you’re working a full time job.

Amanda Brenneman-Brown 06:15

Absolutely, absolutely. There were days that I’d be up till two o’clock in the morning working on stuff. And I’m like, I need to get up in four hours to go to my day job. Right. So yeah, and space was really limited to at our at our house and it Yeah, it just was getting cramped.

Jennifer Roland Cadiente 06:34

Yeah, especially if you’re doing big things like pool tables, and hutches, you know, a little end table. Sure. You can fit five or six of those just exactly.

Amanda Brenneman-Brown 06:43

A couple chairs, but dining room sets.

Jennifer Roland Cadiente 06:49

yes. So have you had any real experience with furniture refinishing before you started doing this?

Amanda Brenneman-Brown 06:56

No, I’m self taught. I come from a line of women who are di wires to the core. My grandmother I had come to find out throughout all of this had spent many years refinishing a lot of the furniture that she had at her farm. And so she would then tell me all I had done this dining room set and I had done this and I’ve done this cabinet in this Hutch. And I learned that she had done it. So I’m showing her pictures of what I had done. And she was just beaming ear to ear going oh my word. It’s so pretty. So I guess it was kind of in my blood. But yeah, it was there was a lot to learn, though about how to do it correctly. Which I think that differentiated me from others, but it also extended my process and the cost. Yeah. So yeah. So it’s just a lot of years of trial and error. And there were some custom pieces that like I had to take all the way back down to the beginning. Because it just wasn’t what it should have been.

Jennifer Roland Cadiente 08:00

Right. And I mean, there’s really no better learning experience than that. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, it it’s kind of it can be painful, financially and physically. Absolutely. But, but I mean, you’re you probably didn’t make the same mistakes again. Nope. Yeah, and I think, you know, a lot of us could probably do, you know, maybe our own dining set, but definitely a small, you know, some chairs or something for ourselves and be okay, if it wasn’t perfect. Yeah, yeah. But you know, when you’ve asked someone to do it for you, you do want it to be perfect.

Amanda Brenneman-Brown 08:39

Yes, yes. And you know, I have had customers that look at everything with a fine tooth comb when I bring it back. And that was expected. And I’d say, take all the time you need look it over. And you know, let me know if you have any issues. If there is then all bring it back. But I was such a perfectionist myself, that there really wasn’t any any problems. And they would sign off on a call on the contract to finish off the job. They would actually sign off and say, Yeah, I’m totally satisfied. And I was on my way. So Right.

Jennifer Roland Cadiente 09:14

So as you were doing these projects, um, did you find that you were getting a fair amount of word of mouth? Referrals? Like, you know, someone comes over is like, Oh, my God, that’s an amazing Hutch. Yeah, like, yeah, thank you. I got it from so and so.

Amanda Brenneman-Brown 09:30

That definitely did happen. There were more folks contacting me though, through the like the Facebook marketplace posts, I just did have pieces that I had, like taught myself a new technique, I would just put up for sale and they’re like, Wait, do you do custom work? And it’s like, Yes, I do. And then there were some folks that actually had visited my booth at various shows around the area, and they were like, Oh, I’m going to take your information and sure enough, They call me and get something going.

Jennifer Roland Cadiente 10:03

Yeah. So I know you mentioned taking more smaller pieces to the shows. And I remember saying that you had started doing more signs and things for people to do, do you still do like those little signs people hanging in their houses?

Amanda Brenneman-Brown 10:20

So the signs, actually, I didn’t make those. Those were some of the smaller items that I had bought wholesale, resale. Yeah. But we don’t do as much of the smaller stuff. More, I guess anymore, just because our business has changed so much. And since 2017, but we those were definitely popular. And we still have a few that we’re selling through over the last couple of years.

Jennifer Roland Cadiente 10:48

Yeah. And another thing that I know that you added was candles, yes. And I love those candles. So how did you come up with the idea to add that to your business?

Amanda Brenneman-Brown 10:58

So excellent question. The candles, were part of me noticing that the smaller items sell really well. And we’d actually carried a different brand of candles in our booth for a while. And the owner of that business had approached us and said, like, hey, you know, I think we’re going to sell this business, and kind of checked with us to see if we’d be interested. And I was just like, yes, we know how well the sell. Yes, we’re interested. So I said, let’s get tax documents together. Let’s get a lawyer involved. And we’re very interested, let’s Let’s rock and roll with this. Well, me being me, I was like, I need to know everything about candlemaking. If I’m going to buy this business, I need to know everything. So I had zero intentions of ever making candles in my life. And so I learned how to do this, the processes behind it to see how long it’s going to take. What all do I need all this kind of stuff. Because if we’re about to buy another business, I need to know what I’m getting into. And so, you know, a couple of weeks went by, and I followed up with them. And I’m just kind of asked him like, Hey, are we are we still going forward with this? Because I’ve been doing like my due diligence. And they, they came back? And they’re like, actually, no. So I was like, okay, okay, that’s fine. Like, yes, totally cool. That’s your business, how ever, um, I kind of know, enough to, like, want to pursue this. So you know, I apologize to them. Like, I’m never meant to do this to like, you know, squeak them out of a wholesale account. But I said, now that I know how to do it. And I’m having a lot of fun with it, I want to run with it. And they understood I’m sure that they were, you know, bummed, upset, whatever it might be. So I started running with it. And I was still very furniture heavy at the time. And they really were just made to put my website on the forefront of people’s minds, because my website is right there on the label. And that was my mind. Yeah, just have them think about me for fracture, refinishing, and it was going to be nothing more than a marketing tool evolved into so much more.

Jennifer Roland Cadiente 13:24

Yeah, and I, I think that the way that you’ve done it, it really ties into furniture, because you have a lot of wooden containers that the candles go in, you know, you have the jars and things to the glass that that most of us are used to, but I just I think it’s a nice tie in. And so I have, I’ve sent them as client gifts in the past, because I think, you know, I mean, we all send candy at Christmas. But, and I am and I love candy and cookies and all the Christmas goodies and that don’t get me wrong. But I think that something like a candle is there in January, February, March. Yes. So it’s, you know, it’s a good reminder, not only of your business, but also of my

Amanda Brenneman-Brown 14:07

Absolutely, absolutely. And we we do client gifts, our biggest year of client gifts was this last holiday season as it is that like I obviously very much appreciate it, because it gets our name in front of other people. But then the purchaser of the client gifts Yeah, it’s not more candy or more cookies or more, whatever. It’s something different.

Jennifer Roland Cadiente 14:32

So yeah, and during COVID times when people weren’t in the office, you know, you didn’t have the big share the candy with all your co workers. So I had to think of something that would work in someone’s home. Exactly. Exactly. And only do so many edible arrangements. Yeah, exactly. Example cookies.

Amanda Brenneman-Brown 14:52

And you know being at your home, you don’t want to sit around and eat all that stuff all day long. Right want to sit in a place that smells good. Exactly. That was helpful if there’s any silver linings on the whole stuff. That was one of my silver linings. So.

Jennifer Roland Cadiente 15:12

So you said that, you know, there, there was a time when the furniture was more of the business than the candles? So how would you say your business is split up now?

Amanda Brenneman-Brown 15:24

So, I would say I haven’t refinished furniture professionally, for three years now. Wow. Yeah. So I will find vintage pieces. And those, I will use those in my booth as my displays, and I sell them too. So I find cool pieces. But zero furniture refinishing, and the wholesale stuff. I’ll find smaller, like home decor items when I’m out thrifting, or this or that, and I’ll flip them in my booth. But even the wholesale stuff like I don’t I’m not a purchaser as much as I used to be. Which I’m fine with that. And I would probably say we are 90%, a candle company. And like, Wow, 5% Vintage furniture finding and 5% wholesale stuff. I don’t even think I ordered hardly any wholesale stuff last year, like at all. So we really have just become like a candle company. And it’s not at all what I thought it was going to be five and a half years ago, but I’m happy with where we’re at today. But it’s just, it’s kind of mind blowing.

Jennifer Roland Cadiente 16:45

Yeah, well, it keeps it interesting. You know that you’re not you’re not doing exactly the same thing that you did. Right when you left your job.

Amanda Brenneman-Brown 16:52

Exactly. Exactly. And I’m, I’m thankful for the variety too. And and, you know, candles, some people might say, well, you just pour something in a jar. It’s so much more than that. And then you get, you know, these different white label and private label requests when I’m working with different vessels. And I’ve got to use different wicks. And then I have, I’m being sent product by companies that say, Hey, can you match this? Because we want a candle with our name on it that smells like this. And so, you know, my nose get to work out and people I know in my inner circle, their noses get workout. So it’s it’s like always something to keep me interested. But it’s not backbreaking Hutch moving, which I’m thing right for that.

Jennifer Roland Cadiente 17:39

So yeah. So how did you get into the private label market?

Amanda Brenneman-Brown 17:46

So being a brief storefront owner, that was attached to predominantly my workshop, and I just had these two empty rooms. And I’m like, Well, I guess I’ll do a storefront. I really realized that. Businesses want their name, and reminders of who they are in front of their customers. And so I really started contacting a lot of my wholesale customers that I’ve been partnered with for a few years, and started asking them Do you want to do white label Do you want to do private labeled. And so the difference with that is the white labeling, it’s my jars, but then it’s their logo, or their name or a fragrance that I work on with them, or private label, we could do any type of jar that’s safe for candle consumption. And then they get to design their own label, or maybe it’s their own unique fragrance. And so I really just kind of arrived at the creation of like a wholesale catalog and a private label catalogues realizing that the main goal of businesses obviously, is to make money, but to make sure that they’re continually in front of the face of their target customer. Yeah. And that was a really good decision to start to pivot towards that.

Jennifer Roland Cadiente 19:12

So what kinds of companies are you working with? for that? So you have to name names?

Amanda Brenneman-Brown 19:18

Yeah. But yeah, so I’m working with a spa right now. They have a line of face facial type products that many of their customers have said, Oh my gosh, I love the smell of this. Oh, the SPAS now Hey, can you capture it? So that’s one company, another company their order ships out this week later this week. They are a chocolate factory. But yeah, but they offer a variety of different products and they wholesale to other companies across the US too. But they had one particular product that they said, Hey, we’re going to send you something, can you match it and so Oh, my very best match that I had I sent it out to them. And they said, Wow, this is just about identical. So they were really excited about that.

Jennifer Roland Cadiente 20:13

And then a candle that smells like a chocolate product sounds very dangerous.

Amanda Brenneman-Brown 20:18


Jennifer Roland Cadiente 20:19

Like do you always want to be eating the chocolate?

Amanda Brenneman-Brown 20:22

Yeah, I have a story for you about that. But yes. It can be very dangerous when you get into these food smells. Yeah, it can be really bad. Your stomach starts growling. And it’s Yeah. And then another whole private label, I guess more. So white label private label is a farm market. And so they have a signature offering that they have. And I actually approached them. They’d been a wholesale customer for a couple years. And I just said, what if we? What if we make a candle for this? And they’re like, Okay, let’s try it. And it did. And that blew up like that was within one hour of them announcing it on their website, they had already placed a whole nother order just based solely on the reaction off social media. And they’ve been shipping it to people that follow them on like social media, they ship these candles out to folks. So it’s been and they’ve had multiple orders since then. Wow. So that’s been really good. I’m really excited about that one. I’m excited about all of them. But those are the ones that are the most prominent and the ones that are on I’m currently working with right now.

Jennifer Roland Cadiente 21:32

Okay. One of the things that I just think is so great about your business is that you’re constantly pivoting. You know, you because, you know, if you talk to a lot of business owners who said, Yeah, I haven’t done the main thing that I started out doing in three years, they would consider that to be a failure. But you just have found different ways to do it. Different things to fill the fill the space and, and earn the money.

Amanda Brenneman-Brown 22:07

Yeah, yeah. Failure is not an option. So yeah, that was, that was one thing. As you mentioned, I left a career that was it was a good career. Like, I’m not going to sugarcoat it at all. It was a good career. And I’ve got a lot of people kind of asking like, You’re crazy. Are you sure you want to do this? But I knew in my heart of hearts that I did want to and the pivoting to stay alive, if you will, has been super intense with COVID. With record inflation’s with supply chain issues. Insane. I’ve had some components of predominantly the candle business, like double in six months. And so it’s the pivoting is just okay. What new, fresh thing do we have today? And how are we going to overcome it? And that’s just kind of has been the attitude of it. And thankfully, my customers, they, they still roll with me. And they’ve, they’ve gotten to know the quality that I produce, and they tell their friends, so it’s been I’ve been really thankful. really thankful.

Jennifer Roland Cadiente 23:25

Yeah. How did you? I mean, I know that you taught yourself all about candles, but how did you make sure that you know that you’re doing you’re using ethically sourced materials and things that are healthy? Because, you know, a lot of candles have stinky perfumes that just are not great?

Amanda Brenneman-Brown 23:45

Yeah, yeah. Yeah. So I’ve done some research. And I started out with soy wax, because it’s pure soybeans grown right here in America in the Midwest, and the soy wax is hydrogenate I guess that’s the soy wax that I use as a byproduct of the soybeans used for something else first and foremost, but I do the pure soy. Some people say paraffins just fine or I use a soy paraffin blend, and that’s great. But for me when I tried working with a paraffin blend, my candles smoked and they smoked so bad to where I could actually see like a haze in my front room. And I knew right there and then I wanted nothing to do with anything paraffin. Yeah, so that was the first thing. And then another thing was I had used other namebrand big box type brands of like candles and melts, and I kept getting headaches. And I couldn’t understand I actually got like a bloody nose at 1.0 Wow. And they just like bothered my respiratory system and throat and so I started looking at Uh, what are some differentiating things? Or what are some more clean type products that I can use. And so I use Fallot, free fragrance oils. And I’ll kind of break that down. Thought free just means that I’m not using an additive that’s actually been approved by the government. So a lot of household products and fragrance products will have these things called ballots. And if you actually go to the CDC website, which I’ve done, and I’ve looked up ballots, they can actually cause harm to animals. And so I figure if they’re harming animals, what are they doing to us?

Jennifer Roland Cadiente 25:38

I know, we’re animals too.

Amanda Brenneman-Brown 25:40

Exactly, exactly. So that was one of the big things is I use all thought free fragrances, and you know, fragrance oils, they are synthetics they are. And so I do my best to use like essential oil infused fragrance oils. So I kind of say, like I do say that I use as clean of ingredients as I can find that still going to perform with a really good hot throw, and still be something that you enjoy lighting. And thankfully, you know, I’m around pouring candles for hours a day, and I’m testing my own stuff when I’m trying to come up with new fragrance combinations and whatnot. And the headaches are slim to none. So that’s been kind of reassuring for me, but I know it’s not going to be everybody’s experience.

Jennifer Roland Cadiente 26:29

Right? Yeah. I mean, at least, you know, if you know that it’s not causing negative effects for you. You’re pretty sure that for most people, yeah. Be Yeah. Be safe. It is again, I mean, it’s hard to control for things like that for everyone, because we all have different levels of sensitivity to fragrance. And I mean, I would say that if you’re sensitive to fragrance, you’re probably not buying a lot of scented candles. Exactly. Exactly. Yeah. And hopefully your family and friends are not buying them for you as well. Exactly, exactly.

Amanda Brenneman-Brown 27:01

So yeah. And that’s what we tell people, they say, Well, do these cause headaches? And I’ll say not for me, but I can’t guarantee it for you. So I very much would rather somebody not buy one of our candles than to buy it and then tell their friends like, oh, that gave me a headache. So yeah, yeah. So that’s, and all of our wicks, they’re all pure cotton, a lot of wicks will have like zinc in them. And so we just try to remove that stuff. And with all the candles that we’ve tested throughout the years, our ceilings are white, and they remained white. So as long as like, you keep the wick trim, then you take care of the candle, like we recommend, it shouldn’t be an issue. It should be a nice clean burn. So yeah, yep.

Jennifer Roland Cadiente 27:45

So do you see any changes coming in the next year or so?

Amanda Brenneman-Brown 27:52

Yeah, I see more pivot. Yeah, yeah, um, we, we did a lot of kind of specialty stuff last year, where we did a lot more client gifts towards the end of the year, and a lot more gift basket type things. And even so far this year, we’ve been contacted for contents for gift baskets. And so we are and I actually also sent a survey out to our entire email list, and we had more than anticipated response, which was awesome. So that has kind of given us a direction of what our customers want. So there are going to be some pivots this year. We’re not subtracting anything at this point in time. But we’re just going to test out some different vessels and kind of doing our own year around gift boxes, that folks can say, oh, you know, someone’s got a baby shower coming up. And oh, Amanda, she’s got a couple of different things that could be appropriate. And I could send them a care box or something. So or a bridal shower, wedding, stuff like that. So trying to just be make the gift giving process, I think a little bit easier for folks.

Jennifer Roland Cadiente 29:13

Yeah, it’s, it can be really challenging. It can you know, especially when, when you’re giving gifts to a large number of people, you know, to try to get something that everyone is going to at least be okay with.

Amanda Brenneman-Brown 29:28

Yeah, yeah, that’s true, but that’s true. Absolutely. And, and, you know, different price points and right, it’s, it’s I’ve learned a lot about cellophane and shrink wrap this last year. And different containers that will work and that are economical and yeah, it’s it’s an interesting type of, I guess, side thing to the business to be able to offer that kind of stuff, but we want to make sure we stay relevant because it’s, it’s different when you have some type of gift basket. Versus here’s a candle wrapped in tissue paper in a craft paper bag, which Yeah, that works. But we’re just going to add some different options that are just touch more special.

Jennifer Roland Cadiente 30:17

Yeah. And I think the really nice thing about having been in business for a while now is that you can get that feedback from actual customers. Yes. So you’re not just guessing?

Amanda Brenneman-Brown 30:27

Yes, yes, yes, yes, I think last year, there was a some panic that seven because we had increased prices in 2021. And then the inflation really started to get out in the news in early 2022. And our wholesale just tanked. for like the first half of the year, I’d say the first three quarters of the year, our wholesale was just really hurting. But the retail was there. And then it was like, Well, I don’t have as much wholesale as much of a time commitment of production. So now I’m going to have this free time. And I’m going to do all sorts of creative things and just see if there’s something that sticks. But I didn’t ask our customers what they wanted. So I tried a lot of like, new creative, fun things. And they weren’t as popular as I had hoped. But that’s okay. I tried something new. But it also taught me that I need to ask the people that shot. Yes. And so that made all the difference in the world, because there was even like a little bit of a recap in that survey of like, well, we launched this or we launched this, what do you think of this? And it was like, their sentiment reflects the sales. So pay attention to that.

Jennifer Roland Cadiente 31:41

Yes. So yeah, we have multiple data points available to us. Yeah. As business owners that we can look at.

Amanda Brenneman-Brown 31:51

Absolutely. Absolutely. And it’s important to look at,

Jennifer Roland Cadiente 31:55

Yeah, I think that is, that’s a really hard thing when you’re first starting. Because at that point, you really are just guessing. Yeah, what people might like, and you know how that converges with what you like to do.

Amanda Brenneman-Brown 32:10

Absolutely. Absolutely. And I even remember, like our wooden dough bowl candles there, I could not keep those in stock. There was one weekend, I think I packed 75 of those to show. It was yeah, it was just insane. And they still are popular today. Because we offer a refill program on them and all that kind of stuff. And it’s great. But the popularity is definitely slowing down. And I’ve had people ask me, Well, you know, I keep seeing these like submit candles on like, tick tock, right. It’s keep seeing on on Etsy the cement vessels. And I go, Yeah, they’re really cool. But we’re not going to carry them. Because shipping costs I know, cause. Yeah, and then cement it’s not as well, in a smaller jar, you have to really pack those really, yeah, really well, I think more so than some of my containers. And it’s just like, Yeah, I don’t really want to do that.

Jennifer Roland Cadiente 33:13

Yeah, and I would think that creating them would be a real challenge. Because, you know, to get it thin enough to be usable. Mm hmm. Then you’re looking at the potential for breakage. So you got to you got a really, it’s a fine line.

Amanda Brenneman-Brown 33:29

Yeah. And that’s, that’s exactly. Another reason why I didn’t even approach cement vessels, because that’s a science in and of itself. And it would take me months to get that down. And then how do I seal the cement with a clean sealer that aren’t going to like, melt into the candle wax? And then have that go into the flame? and have that be some toxic chemical first? Yeah. So it’s just not going to do that? Yeah. So it’s, yeah, it’s a balance of trying to give what people want and then also knowing in our capacity, what what we can do.

Jennifer Roland Cadiente 34:11

Right. And that is really hard. Yeah. Because when someone wants something, you’re like, yeah, maybe I should do that. But if you’re going to be miserable while you’re doing it, it’s not going to end up being cost effective. And it’s not going to be something that’s going to last for the long term. Not worth it. We can’t do everything. Absolutely. We’re still just people.

Amanda Brenneman-Brown 34:36

That’s right. That’s right. And we still, you know, want to be able to make dinner for our family, you know, exactly.

Jennifer Roland Cadiente 34:44

That’s the whole point of running your own business exactly as you can. You hope you have more control over your schedule.

Amanda Brenneman-Brown 34:49

Yep. Yep. And then the orders come through. But But yeah, you’re you’re totally right and hit the nail on the head with that. It’s just, it’s this kind of delicate dance of making sure you give your customers that have been with you for so long, exactly what they want. But then also making sure that you’re taking care of yourself too.

Jennifer Roland Cadiente 35:13

Yep. Because if you burn yourself out, nobody’s getting candles.

Amanda Brenneman-Brown 35:17

Exactly. Yep.

Jennifer Roland Cadiente 35:22

Okay, so are there any, any things that you could any advice you could give to someone who might be facing pivots in their side hustle and how to how to approach it with that positive growth based mindset? I have not always been positive growth mindset with my but again, when failure is not an option, yeah, you’ve got to figure something out?

Amanda Brenneman-Brown 35:53

Absolutely. Absolutely. Um, honestly, I would say that pivots are going to be the only constant in this in your small business life, that there’s always going to be something that is an obstacle, put in front of you, whether that’s legislative or inflation, or COVID. Or literally anything can happen. And you have to be comfortable with going, Okay, well, that’s not going to work. But what can work, and really just taking stock of knowing your numbers, like what’s making you money? What is the thing that you need to focus off? What are you good at? What are you enjoying doing? And if you now have an obstacle with that, figure out how you can either break the wall down or jump over it and keep going. But being comfortable and accepting of what sometimes feels like the never ending pivots is what’s going to give you longevity?

Jennifer Roland Cadiente 37:07

Yeah, yep. And I mean, we, we like to say that, like these years that we’ve been through these past few years have been very unprecedented. And we hope things will calm down. But there we don’t know. Yeah, thanks could continue to be as volatile in different ways. Absolutely. Forward.

Amanda Brenneman-Brown 37:30

Absolutely. There’s tomorrow isn’t promised, you know, people say that. And it’s like, that’s very true. A phone call can change everything. Just, yeah, life can change in an instant. And so it’s just, you’ve got to roll with it. And, you know, small business ownership, it’s not for everyone. And I think a lot of people will go into it with kind of like, rose colored glasses, like I get to work whenever I want, and I’m going to set my own schedule, I’m not going to have to work anymore. And you go from a nine to five to 24/7 365. Essentially, I only pulled one all nighter. In college, I can’t even tell you how many all nighters, I put my candle shop, like multiple all nighters at my candle shop. And so it’s a different commitment. And it’s not for everyone. And there’s no shame in realizing that it’s not for you to Yeah, and I think that’s, that’s something if there is no plan B and you absolutely have to make it work, go until, you know, until you find something else if you’re like, hey, this isn’t for me, but I need to survive, then it’s kind of like when you start the side hustle to leave your corporate career. And then excellent going until you can find something to enter back into the corporate corporate world. Yep. But yeah, changes is going to be the constant.

Jennifer Roland Cadiente 39:05

Yep. Yep. Another thing that I have enjoyed seeing over the years is how much help your husband has been. And you know, I know that not, you know, not everyone’s in a position where they have a partner who can help them. But you know, you may have friends who, you know, can help you load the truck, or, you know, some of the other things that I’ve said I’ve seen. So how, how did you guys navigate that part of your relationship?

Amanda Brenneman-Brown 39:36

Hmm. He was reluctant at first, which is understandable. And it really came, I think, a sense of obligation on his part first and foremost of like, this is my wife, these are heavy, she’s hired lol Just get it done and get it over with and then he would come with me to out of state shows because it’s still going to be just as heavy when she unloads it it. Yeah. And he in the first year or so was not a fan of any of it. But now he actually will go and do markets himself, like, oh, wow, yeah, he will load up the truck Hill or the suburban or the box truck or whatever. And he just will go and do markets. And he has enjoyed watching how the customers interact with me. And he also tells me, he’s like, You just line up, when you’re talking with customers, and you’re selling and you’re doing everything he’s like, I love seeing you like in your zone. And then our customers really enjoy getting to know him and talk to him too. And then it’s just your her husband, and you’re running this through this all was so great. And they fell in love with him because he’s doing this. But yeah, he actually now enjoys it as well. So folks have gotten to know him. And he’s built up rapport with them. And he just loves seeing folks get excited about it, too. So yeah. And you know, I’ve had friends help as well, I’ve had family help load trucks, my dad, my brother, my niece actually is very active in the business with me quite regularly helping and working. And she’s making a good paycheck. So she’s going to get that iPhone. So it’s been, it’s been good. But I also very much know that not all spouses are supportive of this stuff. And I’ve actually had other vendors come up to me and just say, You are so lucky, my husband won’t do anything. And I get it. And it’s also heartbreaking. Because like, I know that they’re doing something that sets their soul on fire, and they’re really excited about, and it makes me sad to even imagine, like, my husband not being a part of that or not wanting to be a part of that. And so if you can find someone that is going to, you know, encourage you in that if not find friends fine. You know, if you can, it’s just it’s important to have that kind of support system. Right? How at whatever level that might be.

Jennifer Roland Cadiente 42:15

Yep. And sometimes it’s just someone to talk you through the rough parts. Oh, man. Yeah, that’s all they need is just to sit there on the phone or over a cup of coffee.

Amanda Brenneman-Brown 42:25

Yeah, yeah. Oh, yeah. Absolutely. Especially during COVID, when I had the truck loaded, and we were getting ready to go outside of Seattle. And the day before seven o’clock at night, we had just finished loading everything, man, an email came through that the show was canceled. And it was one of our highest grossing shows that we do every year. And that was heartbreaking. And so having that support system, or that person to call and to just say, this sucks, please listen and cry on the phone. It means a lot. Yeah, yeah.

Jennifer Roland Cadiente 43:04

Yeah, it. It was crazy. When, like, you didn’t know what was going to close. And when? And then we all thought it would just be a few weeks.

Amanda Brenneman-Brown 43:18

I know. I know. It was not. It was not Yeah, yeah, it was, I had had my industrial shop where I was doing the majority of the furniture, refinishing, and loading up for shows and whatnot out of this location. And that’s when COVID hit. And shows were getting cancelled. And at that point, that was our biggest revenue stream are these live shows. And I’m like, but people keep telling me, it’s only going to be two weeks, it’s only going to be two weeks. And I had already completed my year lease. I was just a month to month and I was thinking, you know, I really have a gut feeling that it’s not going to be just two weeks, and I’m so grateful. I listen to that gut feeling. Yes, we moved out and saved all that money, because I was just like, I was not an ecommerce yet. I was not as online, you know. So. Yeah. It’s all those unexpected things.

Jennifer Roland Cadiente 44:14

Yes. How did you manage that shift to online? Because we all I mean, we just had do it like that?

Amanda Brenneman-Brown 44:20

Yeah, it was. It was the whole there’s no plan B. And so that’s when I said to myself, I’d actually had to back injuries from furniture stuff, too and that time, and I said, Well, I don’t have the space for furniture. And quite frankly, I’m burned out of doing furniture and my back’s not so great anymore. Yeah, so here I am. I can’t do live shows. So I have to become an E commerce. So I applied for a grant through our local county here for $1,000 and I was awarded a $1,000 grant and then I I researched the different educational curriculums that helped coach me into making an E commerce. And I think it was like $897. And so my grant went to that. And I built out my E commerce. And I’ve learned along the way, what I should have done what I could have done, of course, and I’ll implement that at some point. But yeah, that was that grant obviously helped big time. And then it was the whole yeah, there’s no Plan B, we’ve got to do this.

Jennifer Roland Cadiente 45:34

yeah, yeah. Cuz it’s not like right, then you could just go back to an in person job. Exactly.

Amanda Brenneman-Brown 45:39

Exactly. So yeah, exactly. It was crazy times in the world. Indeed.

Jennifer Roland Cadiente 45:46

Yes. Okay. Do you have any sort of final thoughts that you want to share with our listeners?

Amanda Brenneman-Brown 45:55

Ah, you only have one life. And I mentioned it before, like I was questioned, and I got a lot of really weird looks to leave about leaving my career, and leaving a good paying job and this and have that. But I will tell you what, I have never been happier. In work, I go to bed. actually excited to wake up every morning now. Because, you know, yeah, I’ve got a long list of work to do. But it’s work that I wanted to do. And it’s work that brings me joy. And so if I could give listeners that are kind of on the fence, or maybe they’re enjoying their side hustle, and they’re thinking about, you know, wanting to actually make the jump, get your finances in order first. Yeah, we very much had to get our finances in order and actually get to the point where we could just live on my husband’s income if we needed to. And trust me, there were months that we needed to just on his income. But going back to the whole Yeah, you live once. And if this is something that you want to do, just figure out how to do it, because it’s a scary jump. Absolutely. But if you do the jump, and it’s it’s working, you’re going to have like moments of joy that you probably haven’t experienced before. It’s yeah, it’s deeper, it’s rewarding. It’s just, it’s awesome. But it’s also not all awesome. It’s also really challenging. So being being aware of that, but like, don’t, don’t not do it and then regret it later on in life and say, Man, I should have done that. Like, it’s you can always get another job. There’s always going to be somewhere somebody’s hiring, you can always go back into the workforce. But yeah, if you’re thinking about it, like, just do it. Just do it.

Jennifer Roland Cadiente 47:56

Yeah. Very Nike. Yeah.

Amanda Brenneman-Brown 47:58 Yeah. Very Nike.

Jennifer Roland Cadiente 48:00

It’s been such a long running slogan. Yeah. Because it does work in any situation. Absolutely. Absolutely. All right. Well, I’m going to let you go. Thank you so much for joining us today. Amanda,

Amanda Brenneman-Brown 48:15

thank you so much. It’s been an honor