Melissa Beznitz had worked in a flower shop and a bank before, but she wasn’t building a career — they were just jobs. That’s why, when her sister Laurel came home with some exciting news, Melissa was very interested. Davisburg Candle Factory, a company that first opened its doors in the late ’60s, was up for sale. The store was one of Laurel’s favorite places to go. Her sister talked Melissa and her mother, Phoebe Bojanzyk, into buying the well-known establishment.
As its name implies, Davisburg Candle Factory is more than a showroom — the candles are actually made on site. A factory occupies the main space through the front doors, but up the stairs, visitors will find a gift shop where they can purchase handmade items. Initially, Melissa, Phoebe and Laurel had employees who helped carry the workload, but these days, the entire business is run by the three women.
In this interview, Melissa discusses the dedication it took to become proficient and successfully operate a business in the field of candle-making.
“Even with our high reliance on electricity,
DTE Energy showed us that there’s always an opportunity
for changes that will lower costs on our bill.”
Making candles was not something that the three of you knew how to do before you bought the store. What kind of training did you get in the beginning?
“We had 15 hours of instruction from the old owner. But if you make a mistake, you can just melt the candle back down and do it over. You just keep doing it till you get it perfected. Sometimes, if we see something we like, we try to create our own version of the candle, and that’s the fun part – you see something, you get the supplies and you sit down and fool around with it until you get it right.”
What about fragrances?
“We have over 100 different fragrances to choose from. We do custom work here. If someone wants us to make a pink, licorice-scented candle, we’ll do that.”
You’re quite well known in the area, but what about people around the country who would like to purchase your candles? How do you serve them?
“We have a shopping cart on our website so you can buy our candles no matter where you live. We do a lot of wholesale and service a lot of restaurants and country clubs in the area, too.”
It sounds like you took to this business rather effortlessly. Were there any challenges?
“All of the paperwork! [laughing] That’s just out of the ballpark.”
What is your experience with DTE Energy?
“DTE has been very helpful. We had them come out and do an energy-efficient walk-through and they pointed out different things that we could do to save money, so we’ve been trying to implement those ideas. We have already swapped out the old incandescent light bulbs for LED light bulbs and we are currently in the process of swapping out the T-12 fluorescent bulbs with T-8 fluorescent bulbs.”
Did it save you any money on your bill?
“Definitely. Since we manufacture candles here, we have these huge vats that are running 24/7 and we have an oven running 24/7, too. Even with our high reliance on electricity, DTE Energy showed us that there’s always an opportunity for changes that will lower costs on our bill.”
Do you have any other experience with DTE Energy?
“They are a good company that is very involved with the community. They offer services that are designed to help small business owners, like the walk-through that is provided once a year. They also have a residential program where they pay you to take away your old appliances if you’re upgrading to a model that is more energy efficient.”
In closing, why Davisburg Candle Factory?
“We have the highest grade of waxes and even though we call it a ‘factory,’ we don’t have any assembly lines here, we do everything by hand – all of our candles are handmade. We have tested them over and over to make sure we have the proper wick burning in the proper candle. All of those other candles you find in stores, they are all assembly line candles, so ours burn better and are less expensive.”
Support a local Detroit business and your fellow business owner:
Davisburg Candle Factory
Address: 634 Broadway, Davisburg, MI 48350
For more tips and inspiration for small business owners, visit Small Business Pulse Detroit.