Turning $100 into 30 years of Coventry Magic

It was December of 1991 when I made my first magical candle and August of 1992 when I sold one…30 years ago. Looking back, some details are crystal clear while others are a little fuzzy. That’s what happens when you are processing thirty years of memories and emotions in preparation for the conversations you know you are going to have throughout the year. When I ponder the odds of my success and combine that with the hard work, tenacity, and plain old head-down stubbornness, there really was no other option but to get here, to be a thirty-year success story. 

I started Coventry Creations to be something else. I thought I was creating a source of income that would pay my way into college. At 24 years old, I really wanted to go into the psychology field and 30 years ago there was little in the way of loans and grants. Coventry may not have sent me to a university, but it certainly schooled me on many things. Obviously, I learned many standard business practices over time, and Coventry taught me how to find my own voice, own my strengths, and not be ruled by my weaknesses.

I have always been a crafter with a cache of fabric, jars, paint, oils, and herbs. So, when I purchased another $100 of candle-making supplies, I was able to create my first batches of magical candles. They were magical through my study of herbal medicine. The old herbalists talked about the medicinal and magical uses of each herb and it was the magical part that inspired me to create Coventry’s first Blessed Herbal candles. Out of those original 18 blends, 17 remain to this day.

When I talked about my journey with Coventry, I was often met with comments about my courage. But honestly, I don’t know that I recognized courage as an active trait in my early days. I was terrified. I was afraid I wasted my last $100. I was afraid that I would be stuck with a basement full of candles. I was worried I wouldn’t be able to pay my bills, buy food, buy more supplies. Fear drove me for years. Even as I doubled my business each month, then year after year for the first seven years until I reached one million in revenue, I was driven by fear, never courage or success. Eventually, that led to almost losing everything as I watched my business crumble year after year for the next seven years until I learned how to run my business instead of letting it run me.

What I didn’t realize 30 years ago was that I was being innovative and disruptive to not only the spiritual market but also the candle industry. I was the first to sell magical candles on the national market. No wonder they took off so fast. They also inspired many copycats and knockoffs. I used a unique size mold and made my candles upside down according to candle-making norms and these copycats did the same, making this new size and style the norm in the candle world. It took me almost fifteen years in business to realize Coventry was the first, the innovator, and the inspiration for an entire industry of intentional candles. We own the crown today and are proud of the path we carved into the world. 

Coventry is not mine to own alone. This company didn’t come to be in a void. It took a family of people. My sister, Patty Shaw, joined me in 1993 with as much business experience as I had and together we learned how to do it. My husband, Phoenix, continued to help me build a strategy from the wings until we built a wholesale sales company together to sell Coventry products, allowing Coventry to focus on production. Other family members have stopped by for a few months or years to help us grow and some staff members became family for a while. 

Most significantly, our customers became a long-distance family. We have wholesale customers who have been with us for 30 years. We have retail customers who have grown up using our products. We are humbled by how many lives we have touched with the almost 4 million magical candles we have made in 30 years. We hope to continue to bring blessings to the world, one candle at a time.