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Brittany Whitenack: From Craft Fairs to $8 Million in Revenue

APPLE PODCASTS | SPOTIFY In 2014, Brittany Whitenack founded her business with only an idea and $200 worth of candle-making supplies. Almost a decade later, Antique Candle Co has grown to over 50 employees and $8 million in annual revenue. I sat down with Brittany to hear how she went from craft fairs to millions in revenue, […]

Photo of Brittany Whitenack CEO of Antique Candle Co


In 2014, Brittany Whitenack founded her business with only an idea and $200 worth of candle-making supplies. Almost a decade later, Antique Candle Co has grown to over 50 employees and $8 million in annual revenue.

I sat down with Brittany to hear how she went from craft fairs to millions in revenue, exactly what strategies she used to grow, and why she recently hired a CEO to run her company.

If you’ve ever wanted to peek behind the scenes of a multi-million dollar creative business, this episode is for you! Press play for the full interview or keep reading below.

The Business Plan That Changed Everything

Brittany’s original plan after college was to climb the corporate ladder. When she bought her first candle-making kit online, she never planned to turn it into a business. “I didn’t know I wanted to be a business owner,” she says. “I didn’t even know that existed.”

But when her corporate job led to burnout, she started looking at alternative careers. Brittany decided to make a bold move – she quit her job and went all in on candle-making.

She sat down at her kitchen table and wrote out her five-year plan: how she would price her products, where she would sell them, and how many customers she needed to replace her corporate salary. Essentially, she followed her own version of The Blueprint Model!

Figuring out those numbers set Antique Candle Co up for success. “When people ask me for business advice, I tell them to take an accounting class. It will keep you in business.”

From Craft Fairs to Multi-6-Figures

For the first few years of Antique Candle Co, Brittany was a team of one. She made the candles, packaged them, and took them to craft fairs. As a new business, she had no way for customers to find her online shop. So she got creative.

For four years, Brittany brought a clipboard to every craft fair she attended and manually signed people up for her email list. Interacting with her customers also helped her hone in on what scents people liked best and what price they were willing to pay.

In her first year, Brittany made $16,000 in revenue. By year four, Antique Candle Co brought in over $300,000.

Using Your Team to Fill the Gaps

Around year four, Brittany had a few part-time employees and made strategic full-time hires to fill the gaps. “I was looking for skillsets that I didn’t have to invest in growing my business.”

With the help of a marketing and photography expert, she was able to create a beautiful online shopping experience for her customers – an investment she says has paid for itself many times over.

She also started investing in influencer marketing, which was a new concept at the time. Antique Candle Co’s Instagram following and sales skyrocketed. 

One of Brittany’s most pivotal hires has been her financial advisor. Although she has a corporate background, she doesn’t love managing profit margins and operational costs. “It’s my responsibility as a business owner to fill that gap.”

Be Willing to Adapt

Over the years, Antique Candle Co’s business model has changed many times. Social media used to be their top traffic source, but as Instagram became more crowded and influencer marketing more expensive, they’ve shifted toward email marketing and SMS.

That innovation is part of what allowed for their exponential growth. Since Brittany started, her customer base has grown from 2,300 per year to over 60,000. They ship thousands of candles all over the country.

“People think it was an overnight thing, but it was years of grinding.” Some of their most financially successful years were the most stressful for Brittany, as she worked long hours and moved facilities three times in one year to keep up with demand.

The company was growing so quickly that she invested heavily to pour fuel on the fire…only for revenue to stagnate. 

Back to Basics

At the height of Antique Candle Co’s growth, the cost of goods went up just as the economy slowed down. Brittany knew she needed to operate as leanly as possible. So she went back to what had always worked for her: listening to her customers.

From those early days at the craft fair, she invited her audience to vote on new fragrances or buy seasonal bundles. “It’s easy when you’re an ecommerce business to start to disconnect from what people really want.”

When business slowed down, Brittany focused on what delighted her customers, what people were asking for, and how she could better serve her repeat customers. It didn’t happen overnight, but sales slowly started to climb back up.

The Next Era of Antique Candle Co

Now 10 years into business, Brittany can divide her entrepreneurial journey into a few different stages. For the first four years, she was in the weeds, making candles and wearing multiple hats.

Later on, her role shifted from candle-maker to CEO – which she enjoyed much less. “If someone wanted to be a CEO of a company this size, you wouldn’t start a candle business in your kitchen.”

Now things have shifted again. Brittany recently hired a CEO to run Antique Candle Co, so she can get back to the creative work she loves most. “Just because I own the business doesn’t mean I have to run it.”

What Comes After Success

It took a lot of time, energy, and effort to get Antique Candle Co to where it is today. “With the demands of the business, I couldn’t have a life outside work and I wanted one.” 

Now that Brittany has taken a step back from day-to-day operations, she’s achieved what so many entrepreneurs dream of: a business that runs smoothly in her absence.

If Brittany could go back in time to when she was making candles in her kitchen, she would ask herself: “What happens if this business is successful? If the 5-year plan works, do you want to do that for another 10 years, 20 years, or 30 years? What’s the plan after that?”

Antique Candle Co grew beyond Brittany’s wildest expectations. She may not be entirely certain what’s next – but she’s looking forward to finding out.

More from this Episode

To hear the full story and more about Brittany, press play on the player above for the full interview or click here to download the transcript.



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Brittany + Hobnob Market: A course for product-based businesses


Photo of Brittany Whitenack CEO of Antique Candle Co

Brittany Whitenack

Brittany started Antique Candle Co.® with an idea, business plan, and $200 worth of candle making supplies in 2014. Almost a decade later, Antique Candle Co.® employs 50+ candle makers, a shipping team, and marketing gurus while bringing in about $8 million dollars annually. In 10 years, her business has employed 167 individuals, made 1.5 million candles, and served almost 200,000 ecommerce customers in the United States & Canada. In addition, you can shop these farmhouse soy wax candles in about 700 shops. Bootstrapping a business isn’t easy and Brittany has learned some good ole’ fashioned business lessons along the way.

An alumnus of Purdue University and the Daniels School of Business, Brittany has continued to employ many fellow Purdue graduates. Brittany is currently the Chief Visionary Officer & has served on a variety of committees and boards in collaboration with Matchbox Coworking Studio, Cornerstone Baptist Church, and the Greater Lafayette Commerce in Lafayette, Indiana. Brittany resides with her husband of 12 years, Daniel. They enjoy small downtown living with a senior pug & frequent the local downtown boutiques, shops, and eateries. Together, they enjoy lots of walks on the Purdue University campus where they met.



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March 7, 2024

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