Behind the Brand: 15 Q&A with Our Founder, Melanie Rousselet

1. How did your background and upbringing in France inspire you to launch an artisanal candle making business in NYC?

My decision to start an artisanal candle making business in NYC was heavily influenced by my upbringing in the South of France. I found myself missing the enchanting scents that defined my childhood there. While I encountered many sweet, floral, or woody spiced candle blends, I yearned for the simple and pure fragrances of lavender, herbs and rose. Unable to find what I was looking for, I made the choice to create these scents myself. 

2. Could you tell us the story behind the name of your candle business and its significance? 

The name 'Artisane' is derived from 'Artisan,' which signifies a skilled craftsman. In its feminine form, 'Artisane' translates to a craftswoman. I chose this name because it not only embodies my brand but also pays homage to all the individuals, particularly women, who create beautiful handcrafted products. The name 'Artisane' celebrates the art of craftsmanship and the dedication of those who work with their hands.

3. What inspired you to enter the realm of candle making? Were there particular moments or experiences that guided you in this direction?

My journey into candle making was sparked by curiosity and a desire to create healthier products. I had reservations about the candles I purchased here, primarily due to the overpowering scents and the toxic ingredients, such as paraffin wax, which triggered allergic reactions and headaches. I vividly recall a conversation with my mom, who initially alerted me to the potential hazards of candles. In France, discussions about the toxicity of candles were already underway, and this further motivated me to explore this path.

4. How do you incorporate your French heritage into your candle creations? Are there any traditional French techniques or ingredients that play a role in your products? 

My French heritage serves as the cornerstone of my work with Artisane. It's the wellspring of my inspiration and has always been integral to what I do. However, I also draw from my present experiences and journey, where I find influence in everything I encounter - from the sights, textures, scents, to the flavors around me. It's a somewhat indescribable fusion, but I cannot separate myself from it, as it's where my passion first took root. 

5. What distinguishes your candles from others in the market? How do you ensure that your brand maintains its unique identity?

Quality is the cornerstone of our brand. Our candles are crafted using the finest coconut wax blend available, resulting in beautiful candles with a robust scent throw and extended burn time. Our fragrances are not only more sophisticated but also phthalate-free, assuring our customers of a premium experience. Moreover, we empower our customers to infuse their creativity into the process, allowing them to craft candles that are uniquely their own.

6. Could you walk us through the process of crafting one of your signature scents? How do you go about selecting the fragrance notes and achieving a harmonious scent profile?

It all begins with an idea, a strong source of inspiration that shapes a narrative in my mind, which I aim to convey through fragrance notes. Typically, it's a combination of elements that may seem unrelated, yet when blended, they create a captivating synergy. My inspiration is drawn from a vast array of life experiences—be it a place, an emotion, a memory, a person, or even the flavors of a delectable dish. I'm particularly inspired by food because the senses of smell and taste are intimately intertwined. Once I have a clear concept in mind, I head to my atelier to assess and smell the notes I believe would harmonize well. The process involves experimentation, mixing, and fine-tuning to achieve that perfect, balanced scent profile.

7. Were there specific challenges that you encountered when launching your business in NYC, and how did you navigate through them?

Without a doubt, NYC is a fantastic place to establish a business, but it's equally known for its formidable challenges. Numerous obstacles crossed my path, demanding adaptation and continuous learning. The city has a way of pushing you to your limits, which can be quite demanding at times. However, if there's one invaluable lesson I've taken from my experiences in NYC, it's resilience.

8. How do you go about procuring your materials and guaranteeing that they align with your stringent quality standards? Do you have any collaborations with local suppliers? 

The sourcing process has been a pivotal aspect of establishing Artisane. I was committed to discovering the finest ingredients to work with, which necessitated extensive research and dedication. It took over a year of rigorous testing to pinpoint the ideal wax for our candles, which is produced in the United States. However, the specific sourcing details, as to the exact origin of the wax, are proprietary information and part of our trade secrets. 

9. What values or principles do you prioritize in your business? How do these values guide your decision-making process?

At Artisane, we prioritize values such as quality, sustainability, transparency, and a customer-centric approach. These principles guide our decision-making, ensuring that we consistently provide high-quality, eco-friendly products, maintain transparency, and prioritize customer satisfaction. We also value community engagement and actively support local causes however we can. These values act as a compass for our business, shaping our choices and actions to align with our commitment to excellence and responsibility.

10. Have you faced any unique obstacles as a female founder in the candle making industry? How have you navigated those challenges?

As a female and, immigrant founder, I have encountered unique challenges over the years but I've focused on fostering a strong support network of like-minded individuals, both within and outside my industry. I've also prioritized self-confidence, hard work and resilience, believing in the value of my craft and the ability to overcome gender-related and any other kind of challenges. By continuing to learn, create and innovate, but also by staying humble, I aim to inspire and pave the way for future female entrepreneurs in any fields and everywhere in the world. 

11. Can you share any memorable customer stories or feedback that have made an impact on your journey as a business owner?

I've been genuinely amazed by the incredible commitment and enthusiasm of some of my candle class students. Their dedication to attending my classes, often traveling long distances, is truly humbling. It's been an inspiring journey to witness students driving for hours to be a part of our candle-making experience, with some even traveling from different states like Delaware and South Carolina.

One of the most memorable moments was when I had a student join us all the way from Egypt! This international participation was a testament to the universal appeal of candle making and the power of shared creativity. Their eagerness to learn, create, and be a part of our community has deeply impacted my journey as a business owner. It reinforces the belief that our craft has the ability to transcend boundaries and bring people together from all walks of life.

These experiences remind me of the incredible joy that can be found in the simple act of crafting, and they continue to fuel my passion for what I do. These dedicated students and their stories serve as a constant reminder of the beauty of candle making and its ability to connect people across the globe.

12. Do you have any intentions or ambitions to expand your business beyond NYC? Can you provide any insights into upcoming projects, new products, or potential collaborations? 

YES! There are several exciting projects on the horizon for 2024, including a substantial one that I'm unable to disclose at this moment. Additionally, we are diligently enhancing our online offerings to provide more features and accessibility to our customers, both within and outside of NYC. Furthermore, we're exploring the possibility of establishing a physical presence in New York, with plans to offer exclusive experiences across the city. 

13. How do you strike a balance between nurturing your creativity and effectively managing the business side? How do you safeguard your artistic vision from being compromised?

Maintaining balance between the creative and business aspects of my work can be challenging, but I genuinely enjoy both aspects equally. When I'm immersed in my creative process, I'm in my own world, filled with dreams and visions of my next creations. Similarly, I find myself naturally inclined toward taking on a leadership role in the business domain. To ensure that I maintain this equilibrium, I diligently manage my time, allocating equal attention to both aspects. It's this balance that keeps me fulfilled and ensures that my artistic vision remains intact.

14. Are you engaged in any sustainable or eco-friendly practices throughout your candle-making process? How do you uphold environmental consciousness in your work?

When I established Artisane, my goal was to create healthier candles, not just for my customers and myself, but also for the environment. This is why the use of natural ingredients became a paramount consideration. Beyond that, I remain committed to minimizing our environmental footprint, employing sustainable packaging, and striving for overall reduction. We constantly seek to strike a balance between maintaining quality and minimizing our impact on the environment.

15. What advice do you have for aspiring female entrepreneurs who have a passion for launching their own artisanal business?

My advice is to believe in yourself and take action. Start today, because the truth is, we are never completely ready for the journey ahead. The first step might be the scariest, but it's also the most rewarding. Don't wait, and don't hesitate. Embrace the unknown with confidence, and you'll find your path to success.