From Hobby To Hustle: Kristina Braly From Aembr
Kristina Braly is the founder and maker behind Aembr, a luxury lifestyle brand of non-toxic, eco-friendly, sustainable home fragrance products and accessories. Her story is remarkable and we dare you to read this and not feel completely inspired!
From collections that sell out in seconds to surpassing major sales goals, she has been on a true journey honing her skills as a maker and as an entrepreneur, and we can tell she's just getting started.
Read on to learn more about how she turned her passion for candles into a powerhouse home fragrance brand.
how it started
"I wanted to create a non-toxic candle line for my social media followers - I had a bit of a following.
I had previously designed and shipped a Christmas sweater that contained all of the inside jokes I have with my followers, so I thought, 'Hey, I love candles and good scents - how hard can it be?' (Every candlemaker reading this is cringing!)
It took months and months of training and practice, and by the time I could make a decent candle, I had spent so much time energy, and resources that I figured I may as well turn it into its own brand! Before you know it, AEMBR was launched in October 2022.
My brand is luxury/high-end so it’s nice to give customers the option to choose their scents without spending so much upfront."
how it's going
"I initially thought I would make 100 candles and sell, I don’t know, maybe 12? I announced the candle brand 3 days prior to launch and set up a notification list (sort of a rudimentary waitlist if you will) and within hours it has surpassed 900 individuals and I–WAS–FLOORED.
I was literally beside myself with anxiety because your girl did NOT know how to make candles on that scale (yet)!
Now, we sell out our launches within minutes, every time. At first it was obvious that it was due to demand far outpacing supply, but we continue to scale (we’ve scaled production more than 10X in 4 months!) but each launch sells out just as quickly, if not faster, despite every launch being bigger than our last one."
on hitting milestones
"There are so many cool milestones that we’ve been fortunate enough to see as a rapidly scaling business...
going from a few pounds of wax to wax orders by the pallet-load (we exclusively use coco apricot creme)
moving from my house into a 1,600+ square foot warehouse with a retail storefront
getting interviewed for spotlights such as this one here (luv ya, makesy!)
being featured on Shopify Plus
surpassing our first $100,000 in sales revenue…
so much goodness that I continue to pinch myself daily!"
on taking the leap
"I enjoy being a businesswoman; this isn’t my first business, but it is arguably my most successful to date.
I guess I’m not your typical maker hobbyist because I look at literally everything from a business perspective.
I’m constantly coming up with product ideas, new business ideas (which, thank goodness I don’t follow through on them all because your girl is tired!) I think it’s just how my brain is wired.
The pivotal moment for me was during our first launch, when we sold out in 90 seconds."
"It felt like I had strummed a guitar string that was perfectly in tune - the vibrational energy was unmatched. It felt like I was tapping into something - something that I was making was exactly what people wanted."
on how success feels
"It felt surreal. I’ve launched businesses before that have been successful but by no means has it ever felt like this.
I felt sort of out-of-body. I frequently have to be encouraged by my employee(s) and family because I never think the next launch will sell (let alone sell out) but we continue to break records and it’s so hard for me to feel like the rug won’t be pulled out from under my feet tomorrow.
I’m content to ride this crazy train as long as it runs!"
on standing out & what's next
"Our business combines Nordic/Scandinavian scent profiles and design minimalism with clean, luxury, non-toxic sustainable home scents.
We manufacture and ship (all in-house) luxury non-toxic candles and wax melts from our headquarters in Houston, Texas.
We ship plastic-free, encourage repurposing of our vessels, and will be branching out into more lifestyle areas of the home in 2023 and 2024."
on launching an app!
"I didn't see the demand for what it was from the get-go. I played it very conservative because, like I mentioned earlier, I felt this would all go away tomorrow.
I am not kidding when I tell you my customers had more faith in my brand than I did, in those early days!
I leaned into their feedback and what they wanted to see (more scents, more stock, easier ways to buy quickly) and worked VERY quickly with an app developer to launch our AEMBR app (iOS/Google Play) 6 weeks into our business.
It’s now the highest grossing sales channel we own - over 85% of our orders come from our native app(s)."
on getting advice
"I lean into the advice from my friends who are small business owners, as well as my dad (a financial advisor), and the online community.
Youtube, Instagram, and TikTok can be so incredibly helpful for bettering your craft if you know where to look. The candle community in particular is very friendly, generous, and collaborative."
on where to invest
"I invest the most in quality ingredients and technology. What good is your app/website if your product is crap? And what good is your phenomenal product if nobody knows how to buy it?
We combine high-quality products with the latest tech - app push notifications, sms marketing, Instagram shopping - all to make the customer’s checkout journey easy and seamless."
on staying motivated
"Without a doubt, my customers are the thing that motivates me! They come back (we have a SUPER high retention rate!) and want more and we listen to them!
I get so motivated by their enthusiasm that even on my bone-weary days I’m so excited to bring them another fabulous launch."
on helping new makers
"My story isn’t typical - so don’t overextend yourself. Be mindful of costs.
I think the mistake I see typical candlemakers make is that they will overlook certain costs or overhead and undercharge for their products.
At the end of the day, your time, education, training, skill, and quality are worth something to the consumer.
Also - take some time out to learn a few marketing tips - there are great courses out there and it’s something I believe EVERY maker should invest in!"
on where she shops
"We’re huge fans of makesy for all things - their customer service, free shipping, high-quality products and amazing sales are what keep us coming back again and again! Love y’alls!"
You can follow Kristina Braly and Aembr on Instagram here!