A turning point in 17-year-old Taylor Bice’s life was when her hobby of candle-making became an authentic business.
The decision to go into the candle business, the Zachary native says, came when she realized she could make a better quality candle than expensively priced candles already on the market.
“I was 15 and in Hobby Lobby buying candle-making equipment and thought, surely if I could make candles that I’d love to buy, then others would buy them, too,” Bice recalls.
That was two years ago and Bice’s Lagniappe Candle Company is doing well.
Bice grew up in Zachary attending the community’s schools until the sixth grade before she and her mom, Laurie Bice, moved to Slaughter.
“It’s just me and my mom,” says the admittedly shy teen at the conference room table at her mom’s office in Baton Rouge.
Bice was home-schooled after moving to Slaughter but is now a senior enrolled in Louisiana Connections Academy.
“I have 263 days until I graduate, and I know this because I have a countdown app,” she said. “I count down everything … my favorite TV shows, my holiday trade shows.”
The teen entrepreneur is interested in those trade shows because Lagniappe Candles sell well at them, especially during the holidays.
Lagniappe is defined as a small gift presented by a store owner to a customer with the customer’s purchase or an extra or unexpected gift.
Inside each candle is that “something extra” and depending on the candle, the lagniappe could be a piece of jewelry such as a pendant, bracelet charm, necklace or ring made of silver, sterling silver or gold.
Inside Bice’s cleverly named Maniappe Candles for men, there could be a money clip, keychain or mini-tools, she said.
Cash Candles contain cash, real cash, said Bice, and other candles for children or young girls contain age-appropriate treasures.
Bice says all of her candles are made of a clean-burning paraffin soy wax with more oil, more fragrance and more dye, which makes her candles more fragrant, bursting with color and causes them to last longer.
“My mom kicked me out of her kitchen, so I bought a shed, ran electricity, insulated it and added flooring, so now I have my own candle-making shop,” said Bice, who, along with her mother, did all of the work on her shop themselves.
The teen said she owes everything to her mother, who has supported her in all her endeavors and pushed her into making smart business decisions such as putting her candles into a few local shops, creating her own website — www.lagniappe candlecompany.com — and showing at trade shows and arts and crafts fairs.
Customers from around the globe order Bice’s fragrant candles.
Bice is an admitted perfectionist and says she is in touch with fans of her candles. She gets them actively involved in choosing the names for her candles.
The whimsical Ladybug Kisses (Bite Me!), for instance, was chosen by her Facebook fans. Bice says she’ll post a candle-naming contest on her Facebook page and the customer suggesting the winning name receives a discount on a candle purchase. “There are a group of women on there (Facebook) that inspire me to make my candles better,” Bice said.
Other fun names the teen likes are Some Beach (after the country song), Island Girl, Blonde Moment, Little Black Dress and Storm Watch to name a few. There are over 100 scents to choose from, Bice said.
“One of my new candles, Geaux Girl, is LSU-inspired and Vineyard (grape) scented,” Bice said. “Or Cool Water, which is a dupe of the popular men’s cologne that contains citrus, amber, musk, moss, sandalwood and cedar notes.”
Other products include the Gatsby or Gatsby Plus, ranging from $40 to $100, and contain vintage and vintage-inspired jewelry.
Full product and scent descriptions are available on Bice’s website, where all orders are custom-made, hand-poured by Bice herself and packed and shipped by Bice and her mother.
The entire process takes about three hours from start to finish, and Bice can make about five candles in one scent at a time thanks to a little ingenuity on her part. Wax-melting pots come in 1-pound or 10,000-pound sizes. “There’s nothing in between,” Bice explained. “So I started using turkey fryers to melt my wax, and they’re perfect because they come with a drainer-scoop thing.”
Some people would call owning their own company at age 15 a huge success, but the Zachary/Slaughter teen says she wants something to fall back on.
“Just like with all businesses, they never last forever, so when that day comes, I want to be able to fall back on my education,” Bice said.
“I’ve thought about becoming an engineer or maybe a dentist, but who knows, maybe one day I will be able to rely on only my candle business.
“I’m not allowed to spend any of the money from my company,” Bice says, “and not going to college is not an option, thanks to my mom.”
Bice plans to enroll at LSU or Southeastern after graduating in June.
One of her goals is to help out a few friends, such as one of her pals who had to drop out of college just short of obtaining her psychology degree to help an ill family member.
“I’d like to be able to help her,” Bice said. “My candle company will hopefully allow me to do that.”
In addition, for every order of Bice’s Home of the Brave candles, 100 percent of the proceeds are given to Homes For Our Troops.
Bice’s candle business is already expanding and the teen just negotiated a contract with the Tervis Tumbler company, which will allow her to carry licensed LSU, Saints or Disney products. “I have a weird thing for cups,” Bice said.
Lagniappe Candles are available online at www.lagniappe candlecompany.com, or visit Honey’s Love in Zachary or Southern Charm in Central.
Bice will be at several trade and arts and craft shows with Lagniappe Candles in tow: Mistletoe Market at the Belle of Baton Rouge in the atrium from Nov. 15-16; Broadmoor Church arts and crafts show on Nov. 21; and Jolly Jingles in Gonzales at the Lamar-Dixon Expo Center on Nov. 29.
Bice’s candles can also be shipped anywhere for about $5. For more information, contact Taylor Bice at (225) 305-4789.