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BoB Horz Purple

HERStory: Rollercoaster

Jessica knew from childhood that she wanted to be both creative and innovative in her career.  “As an A/B personality mix from my cleverly creative mother and intellectually clever father, I spent much of my professional journey chasing entrepreneurship until I discovered the perfect recipe,” says Jessica. 

In August of 2012, Jessica and her mom Phala started Seventh Avenue Apothecary in an old building that was once the location of her grandfather’s dry cleaners in Ybor City, Tampa, Florida.  Since history and legacy are important to her mom’s large Italian family, they were excited to honor their heritage by setting up shop in a family building. “Our family spent an enormous amount of sweat equity repairing the building and creating a unique, inviting and productive manufacturing space,” recalls Jessica. “Over ten years later, we occupy 8,500+ square feet of space to design, test, manufacture and sell our line of home fragrance products.”

The business sells direct to consumers through several retail channels, wholesale to boutiques, and private label to businesses looking for branded products.  “Our ability to work with both small and large companies allows us to keep minimums at 72 pieces for several product options, while also having the capacity to run 30,000 piece orders through,” says Jessica.

Jessica is at a place in her life where she appreciates and celebrates all the facets of her career.  “I use my creativity daily.  I have relationships with my customers.  I see my work force as family,” she says.  “And best of all, as a mom of two beautiful little girls, I get the freedom and opportunity to be with my family.”

My life story in one word


What I love most about my company and brand

I love the versatility that we offer to private label customers.  We have several different glassware decorators that we work with, but also have label printers in house to facilitate smaller orders and keep projects cost effective.  I am always willing to give advice on the best ways to launch product lines when customers get stuck on how to move forward when faced with so many options.  

I believe that our recurring customers like that we can keep short lead times when other candle manufacturers are scheduling 6+ months out.   We are growing, but at an achievable pace where we can keep relationships alive and promises true.

The hardest part of getting my product concept off the ground

Financing is a pain point for many startup companies, including ours.  With the financial crash of 2008 close in our rear view, we didn’t want to get in too deep until we had proof of concept and some revenue coming in.  We started by leveraging credit cards and with incremental spending.  After we felt comfortable that the products were proven in our local market, we set out to get financing through a good friend and banker.  We didn’t take a “real” paycheck for over three years and relied on years of trial, error and sweat equity.  A few loan refinancings later, we continue to grow and finally bring home some bacon to enjoy!

What surprised me most about creating and promoting my product

How quickly marketing tactics changed for promoting products.  Social media has an immense impact on buying behaviors and has changed the way we sell products. This has forced us to go in the direction of hiring outside social and paid marketing agencies to stay relevant.  Despite the outlandish and obscene ways that companies market today, we choose to keep an honest and personal approach to our marketing.

My best advice for someone with an idea for creating and promoting a product

Keep it simple.  So many of the small startup candle companies that we work with get caught up in “innovative” details and are paralyzed when it comes to making decisions.  In the end, consumers still want products or services that work no matter how trendy or different the creator tries to make the brand feel. Do not be afraid to start at the beginning and evolve into your ultimate dream. We did and are still evolving daily.  

Advice for my younger self

Dream big!  Set goals and have an action plan on how to achieve them.  Don’t get caught up on timing. I spent much of my 20’s feeling behind compared to my corporate friends because I was too focused on what should be happening when. As it says in Ecclesiastes 3:1, “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven.”  I’ve had my share of planting, reaping, crying, mourning, healing and now dancing!