We had the good fortune of connecting with Jillian Walkowiak and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jillian, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
It was really on a whim! I had a couple different sources of inspiration but the main one is this: While browsing vendors at a horror con in 2018, I came across a wonderful soy candle vendor with no horror connection. My candle fiend & horror fiend wheels started turning together and I thought how cool it would be to put some horror inspired candles out into the world.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
There are a lot of wonderful candle companies out there (even more so since the pandemic!) and I’ve worked very hard to come up with a sustainable, clean burning candle that has unique touches, setting my work apart from others. I pull my scents directly from scenes, locations, or settings in the horror stories that I love, for example, my Tell Tale Heart candle smells like the infamous oak floorboards from the Poe story along with a hint of tobacco to calm the erratic narrator’s nerves. In addition to scent curating and hand pouring my candles in small batches, I also design & print my own labels, and manage my own online shop & social media presence. The pandemic has been my biggest challenge as a small business, considering the ethical implications of sales during a crisis in addition to finding supplies hard to come by or dramatically increased in cost. I’ve learned to buy in bulk when things are available and have only had to implement a minor recent price increase. The best things about this eerie endeavor has been the fellow horror fiend friends I’ve made as well as the opportunities I’ve had to give back, as a portion of my profits go to non-profit organizations monthly.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
The city of Buffalo has seen a dramatic change over the last few decades and there are so many wonderful things to do here. If we had a week, I’d recommend visiting Timeless Babez & Overwinter coffee on the Elmwood Strip, or Cats Like Us, Black Sheep Market, Pulp 716 Comics, & Atomic Barbershop & Salon on the Retro Block in the City of Tonawanda. We could stay in that area and take in some history at The Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum & then hit Prescott’s Provisions Restaurant for an amazing dinner. For a super unique & delish coffee experience a bit south of the city, we’d head to Undergrounds Coffee, a shop that’s housed in an old funeral home. We could stay in the Southtowns for a wonderful spa day at Ritual Skincare & Spa. Checking out a show at the Historic Shea’s theater is a also a must as when I’m not being a horror nerd I’m geeking out on musicals & theater – for balance. As far as wonderful hangout spots, Hertel Avenue is definitely the place to be to visit Revolution Gallery & Lounge and then head over for some creepy cozy drinks at my favorite bar, The Merry Shelly. To get our mystical and paranormal fixes on, we must make it to Rising Goddess in the Town of Tonawanda & then head out to Gasport for a stay at Graestone Manor B&B. One day we have to visit Canalside too! We’ll have a busy week & won’t even scratch the surface of all of the wonders of the city.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My family really deserves a ton of credit & recognition here. From my supportive parents & brother, to my unbelievably creative & helpful daughter, to my all of the above partner, I would not be on this crazy ride right now without all of their love & support.