A Chat with Taylor Davis of
CLR Los Angeles

hazil studios - store in a week - CLR Los Angeles

CLR (pronounced kuhl-er) is a Los Angeles based candle company that is currently taking the eCommerce world by storm. Brought to life in the summer of 2020 by founder Taylor Davis, CLR not only boasts beautiful, chic candles destined to catch your eye and nose, but it is also a brand built around the inspirational themes of equality and inclusion. Taylor and CLR are a shining example of when you have a good quality product, something as seemingly simple as color can bring a community together and create a space of belonging. 

I recently sat down with Taylor to learn more about her experiences in bringing CLR to life and forging a successful, innovative business in a crowded eCommerce market. With networking, determination, and hard work she has developed a beautiful brand and product, and we are thrilled to share her story. 

CLR’s branding is the spirit of your product. The candles represent the power of inclusion and encouragement to look inward and celebrate our most authentic (and CLRful!) selves, not to mention, of course, they’re GORGEOUS. When you were first envisioning CLR as a business, did candles or your brand come first? 

It was definitely always candles! I truly have been a candle addict for longer than I can remember, and I had previously never really looked at them as anything past just candles. 

Then, with [the concept of] color being the central focus of the company, we were talking a lot about color on a broader scale and what it could mean in different ways. We found that color is all-encompassing, and that’s what I want my brand to be: all-encompassing, everyone is welcome, everyone can find their place within CLR, everyone can find their own “color.” Equality and inclusion were the main themes we kept coming back to, and then it branched off from that. Having that as the core vision, I’ve been so lucky to meet a lot of people who have shared those values, and it’s honestly been a magnet of positivity both in terms of the brand, and my life outside the brand as well. 

I started my company in 2020, and everything, of course, that was going on during that time was so inspiring, it made me really question, what can I do to help? We’ve dedicated, on a rotating basis, to giving a certain percentage of CLR’s profits to different initiatives and philanthropies. Having that connection [to helping people] has helped my personal accountability, to not let myself stall out on these issues that are so so important. 

In a world where it’s just do, do, do, and constantly moving onto the next thing, it must be so refreshing to have a mission and product that is so meaningful to you. I can hear in your voice how important this is to you. And you’re crushing it! 

I’m definitely trying! We are growing, but I’m enjoying this space that CLR is in right now. We have our Shopify store and a partnership with a big retailer like Nordstrom, but we’re also on the ground with different boutiques that are smaller - I just really value getting ingrained in different communities. As much as I love working with the Nordstroms of the world, I also love connecting with these different boutiques in smaller markets because I get to know the community a little bit better. I get a better read of it, and that leads to me meeting great people in those communities. 

So, when CLR first started, you were purely just selling online, correct? 

Yes! Purely online, and then our first in-store presence was Candle Delirium in West Hollywood, which I am so proud to say because they are an institution. They have taught me the ways of the business and have been so generous and so gracious. To start selling our product in-person in a West Hollywood stalwart was huge for me. 

That’s really special. So, how long was the time frame from when you first started selling online to when you started thinking, should we branch out to boutiques and in-person selling? And, if it hadn’t been for the pandemic, do you think you still would have started online only first? 

I think definitely starting online and getting that eCommerce foundation was very important, that is the way people are shopping now, pandemic or no pandemic! The timeline between starting [and thinking about boutiques and in person selling], I’d say it’s immediate. You’re going and pitching different boutiques right after launching online sales. Candles are unique in that most people don’t want to blind buy a candle - they have to smell them in the store! Just being able to have the product seen and smelled out in the real world was absolutely crucial. I was definitely hitting the pavement the second I had the finished product in hand. 

When in 2020 did you actually launch? 

We started the company, building the website and whatnot, filed for the LLC, etc., in July 2020. I initially had the beginning idea back in May of 2020. Then it’s, getting the manufacturer, getting products from overseas, as you know in 2020 the shipping and import industry was a mess, so I didn’t actually get my products in hand until the end of August 2021. It was a lot of initially coming up with the design, initially coming up with the fragrances, but it took some time, so I was chomping at the bit to go by the time I got the candles. 

Amazing! And then during that time, how were you initially getting the word out about CLR? I know you said you were hitting the ground running as soon as you could with boutiques, but did you have any sort of marketing plan to get the word out? 

We did, I was working with a PR group in the beginning. We did influencer gifting with cute little boxes to get our product out to people. Because again, even just having someone smell the candle on camera and saying it’s great is so much more helpful than just having the description online. Everyone is always on their phones, everyone is always on instagram, so why not create that content to show people experiencing CLR? That was a big part of the initial marketing.  

Fantastic. So, with Nordstrom! Can you talk a little bit about how the partnership with Nordstrom came to be? Because I believe they approached you, correct? 

I actually have family friends who have a dear friend who was a buyer in Nordstrom’s lingerie department. So I said you know what, I’d love to send you my candles, and if you think they’re anything, I would be so grateful if you could pass them along to the right department. I’m so grateful because she did like them, and you know what? She passed them along, and Nordstrom gave me a chance! 

That’s such a cool story, I love that. I love that networking played such a strong role in that process. Nordstrom is this giant behemoth, but it was the relationships and people to people interactions that got you there. It brings it back to how human connection is so important.  

It’s huge! You know [as a business person] that networking is important, but time and time again networking has led to so many great opportunities and meeting great people too, it’s just so important. 

So, another question I have is, how do you define success as a business owner vs. how you see success for your business? Or are those the same things for you?

I definitely see it as a Venn diagram. Of course, in the middle, success equals sales, fiscal components, that sort of thing. Then on my personal side, it’s, are my vendors happy? Are they happy with the products? Are they happy working with CLR and having their brand represent CLR? Then on the business side, are my products giving my customers and vendors what they want? Are the products living up to what I’ve described? 

Nothing is successful without a good quality product. That’s what I keep in my head: you have nothing without that true quality product. You need to be putting something out into the world that you would want to use in daily life. You are your first customer. You have to make sure that you are proud to sell this product and proud to give it to someone else. 

And lastly, if you could go back to you at the beginning of your Shopify and eCommerce journey, what piece of advice would you give yourself?

It doesn’t have to happen overnight. It won’t, and it kind of shouldn’t. You should allow yourself time to figure out the little things. These days, there is so much emphasis put on an overnight success, everyone wants an overnight success. For me, I want to grow with the company, and grow myself, and I think there is a certain pacing that happens that is beneficial for that process. 

                                                          

Thank you so much to Taylor for taking the time to chat with us and share her experiences. Want to see this candle sensation for yourself!? Check out CLR’s full webpage here to learn more about the candles, what CLR’s doing to help the community, new products, and more! 

If you'd like to work with Hazil Studios on your own Shopify store or have any further questions, contact us here

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