From Hobby to Hustle: Ashley Fathergill of Upside Goods
Ashley Fathergill, founder & maker behind Upside Goods shares the incredible story behind her thriving candle business. A true inspiration, she turned her hobby into her hustle and wants to help other candle makers do the same - albeit avoiding the mistakes she made along the way. Ready, set, get inspired!
how it started
“Like most, in 2020 I was forced to pivot my everyday life. I was running two businesses at the time, a yoga business and a marketing firm. Within one week I had zero in-person classes and lost all 13 of my small business clients.
Once the free time and lack of responsibilities wore off I found myself in a deep depression. I self-soothed by purchasing items to make a candle with the idea that I’m doing my household and mind a favor with zero intention of making it into a business.
With the loss of marketing clients but the desire to design, brand, and put my muscle memory back to work in an area that I loved with the medium of candles, it quickly became apparent to me that this might be something.
Over the course of 6 months, I brainstormed, tested, sourced, agonized, branded, marketed, tested some more, and launched Upside Goods Co..
On December 8, 2020, I published my website and sold out almost 300 candles within 8 hours. It was truly unbelievable!
I sold out of another 200 candles two weeks later in 24 hours. It was wild and I will never forget it. I made 5 scents available plus a holiday scent and made as many as my budget would allow of each.”
how it’s going
“One of my major milestones was when we went viral on Instagram. I’ve worked in marketing but to see it firsthand with my own brand was something really special.
I didn’t sell a ton of candles– it wasn’t a monetary viral experience, it was a growth in followers but I loved seeing the sheer impact of social media.”
on taking the leap
“My family, friends, and my husband are incredibly supportive and pivotal in giving me the boost I often need when self-doubt and negative talk creeps in. Launching a business is an incredibly personal experience because you live it every single minute of the day.
I feel like the people around me are witnessing me in my element. I am made to create businesses and bring ideas to life no matter how big or small and I think those closest to me know that and are there to lift me up when my cup is drained. I was really hurting when my businesses were quarantined through the pandemic and this brought life back to my life.”
on standing out
“I’m committed to cleaner ingredients, candles that last, and a modern + sleek version of a candle that is minimalist in appearance with a life to be lived after the flame has burned out.
My mission is the true differentiator with my candles. I’m on a mission to bring mental health care and resources to those who need to bring a bit of light back to their days.
Upside was born from my darkest of days and if lighting a candle is all that one might be able to muster the energy to do at times, that's a win. That's the true Upside.”
on making mistakes
“Cost of goods! I say it loud and proud (well, maybe just loud) that I was a fish out of water when I started my brand. I was so focused on marketing and branding that I completely underestimated the power of margins for my business to grow.
Shifting from the service world to a product-based business has required a whole new set of eyes and came with a learning curve.
I started documenting all of it on YouTube for other candle makers to sidestep my mistakes. It’s been a wonderful way to connect to other makers and use a platform that I can learn through as well.”
on investing in the future
“Outside of supplies, I invest in marketing and help! While I do most of the marketing on social media, I hired someone to help with my website and email.
Email is vital for business and it’s made a huge difference in my business, growth, and retention. I also invest in support to run markets and tasks in the shop now that I’ve moved out of my home.
on staying motivated
“If I am going to invest my time, energy, and self into something, I don’t want it to fail. At the end of the day, it’s my name attached to it. I don’t want to be associated with something that is failing. If it does fail, I want to go to bed at night knowing I gave it my all.”
on helping new makers
"My advice to new makers just getting started...ask yourself, can I see myself doing this in 5 years? How about 10? If you can see yourself building a life with this business in mind, do it!
It’s a huge commitment and will take every ounce of you some days but the risk is worth the reward. You have to be willing to commit. It’s a wonderful thing and can absolutely be done, you just have to go do it!”