Socialpreneur Episode 1| Alejandra Guerra & Everly
What inspired you to create Everly?
I talk about my mom a lot so I am going to give her a little bit of the credit she deserves here. Growing up, she always had candles around the house, so I think that’s where my candle obsession comes from. So shout out to my mom!
You know, the fragrances and just the stuff in our candles weren’t the healthiest things in the world. I’m actually on a pregnancy journey with my husband and I started eliminating the toxic stuff in my life and then started investigating a little bit more about candles and realized that most of the candles are made with paraffin wax, which is awful because it’s a byproduct of petroleum.
So I started making candles for my home and I would give them away to family and friends and they liked them. I’ve always been interested in sustainability so I started thinking about how we could make the concept more sustainable and that’s where Everly was born! I wanted to give people an option to refill empty candle vessels that they have at home with our system.
Where did the name Everly come from?
The brand used to be Ame in the beginning and so many people struggled to pronounce the name. So I just knew we needed to rebrand and change our name! The intention with Everly is to expand into other product categories, not just candles, so I wanted an umbrella name that really encompassed everything. Our product concepts are supposed to last forever, so it really evolved from forever - ever - Everly!
What does a typical day in your life look like?
I’m not a morning person, I’m a little bit of a night owl, which means I tend to work random hours. But almost every day I need to do yoga. I really prioritize my well-being because if I am not doing well as an individual, my business and everything that is encompassed by that is not going to do well.
Probably the first thing I do is have my coffee, then do my yoga, come home and have a shower, do some deep work from my home office, and then go to my studio to make some candles and get some more work done from there. Every day is different, but that’s what a typical day looks like for me!
What does social entrepreneurship mean to you and how do you incorporate it into your business?
To me, it means to be an entrepreneur and find a way to give back while also having a business that drives revenue, like a for-profit business. What inspired me to go into that was my background in the NGO space as a volunteer, and I actually had a crowdfunding platform at one point that raised money for charitable causes.
I’ve always been interested in that space, but I've also been interested in entrepreneurship and for-profit businesses, so I wanted to merge the two! And what that looks like for Everly is, we want to clean up the candle industry with the ingredients we are using, the types of packaging we are picking, and where we are producing the product.
Also, we want to donate a percentage of our total revenue to 1% For The Planet to go to environmental causes. So that’s what we’re doing at Everly, and there are so many examples of social entrepreneurship out there and I’m really excited to meet more people in this space and learn more about them!
You speak a lot about your passion for cleaning up the Earth, where does that come from?
I grew up until I was about 7 years old in Mexico, and part of my life there was in a super remote location, about 2 hours outside of Mexico City on a ranch. I was in the local public school there for a while and alot of my days there were spent outside playing in the dirt and making mud castles with the local kids. I think my best friend was a cow, I’m not even joking!
I spent a lot of time in nature so that has definitely influenced me. After we moved to the states, we lived in California so I lived by the ocean. A problem I see more recently when I go to the beach in California, it’s actually quite sad, you can see deposits of petroleum on the sand, which are from ocean oil spills.
So yeah, I would say growing up in nature and then witnessing first-hand what is happening to it.
What was the hardest part of starting Everly?
Genuinely, I think it was taking the leap and believing in myself enough to just do it. I think we don’t talk about it enough as entrepreneurs like impostor syndrome, getting out there, getting S-H-I-T done, and believing in ourselves. For me, taking the first step was the hardest part but once you take it, you never look back.
Do you have any advice for people who are just starting out living sustainably?
I would say it’s on the same note of what I just said - you just need to start. I think that it can be such a daunting subject because it’s such a big thing and we think as individuals maybe we can’t make such a big impact. But the truth is, as a collective, we will make an impact.
Get rid of the notion that you have to be perfectly sustainable, that’s impossible and none of us are. I’m not, we’re trying to be as a company and I’m sure we aren’t going to be perfect all of the time, but that is what we are striving for. As long as we are making those small gains along the way, we’re gonna get better. So yeah, just start.
So, Ale, what is next for you and Everly?
We’re launching in a month which is so exciting. I am excited to test and learn and see what people think, and to integrate that feedback back into the product. I would love for this to be an amazing success and for us to be able to expand into other product categories! There are so many items in the self-care category that could be redone to be more sustainable.
Alejandra Guerra is a social entrepreneur currently living in Toronto while building Everly. Everly creates candle refill kits that help to eliminate household waste by giving you the option to refill empty candle vessels instead of tossing them in the trash! To learn more, check out our blog post, “Why I Started Everly: The Clean, Refillable Candle Company”.
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