When she set out to create a more eco-friendly line of handcrafted candles, our NJMOMpreneur Emily Gunselman of Birch House Candles never expected how her new business would bring her a whole new tribe of women to inspire her. Now, this Short Hills #momboss is bringing hand-poured soy candles with delicious scents like Summer Teak and Sea Salt + Orchid to the masses, and working with other local New Jersey business owners on building community and support to help them flourish. From her sunny outlook on personal and professional challenges, to her passion for diabetic research in honor of her daughter’s diagnosis, this inspirational mama’s positivity and determination motivates us to push forward. We sat down with her to get her best advice for taking a leap (hint: you’ll never feel prepared), learn how she sets her products apart in a popular industry, and find out about her favorite fellow New Jersey businesses (you can actually find her candles in Boll & Branch)!
featured image via NJMOMpreneur Mallika Malhotra of MikiFoto + Co
Creator of Birch House Candles & NJMOMpreneur Emily Gunselman
NJMOM: What do you offer to your clients and how is it different than other professionals in your field?
Emily: Birch House Candles is proud to offer hand-poured soy candles created with phthalate-free fragrances and cotton core wicks. Soy wax candles are not customary in the industry, as many use a blend or paraffin. Soy burns longer and cleaner than paraffin and is a renewable resource. My attention to detail on the hand-selected materials, from the personal selection of labels and boxes to the blending of custom fragrances, brings to my customers a truly handcrafted product.
Just take the leap! It might not be perfect and that’s okay. You might think in a month you’ll feel more prepared, you won’t.” – NJMOMpreneur, Emily Gunselman
NJMOM: What inspired you to get into your line of work?
Emily: I was inspired by my love of candles and the charm they provide, but also saw an opportunity to bring an eco-friendly option that provided the same beautiful ambiance without the presence of black soot or chemicals found in most mainstream candles.
NJMOM: What is your favorite part about your business?
Emily: My favorite part about my business is all the amazing people I have met and continue to meet throughout my journey. The loyal customers that I get to interact with daily at pop-up shops, boutiques or even at my home are so amazing! I love how each customer has a unique scent preference and how different scents bring forth old memories and create new ones for them! I also love the other passionate entrepreneurs I get to meet on a daily basis, and those I’ve made some amazing friendships with. Without Birch House Candles, I never would have the tribe I have today! It’s invaluable.
NJMOM: What is your background in your business expertise?
Emily: My degree was in business and I worked in large banking corporations for about 10 years until I had my first baby girl in 2009. It took me seven more years and another baby to finally decide to start my own business. I taught myself the art of candle making while my kids were at school and I began sourcing my jars, designer, labels, and all that would make my business flourish in its first year.
NJMOM: What are you most proud of in your career?
Emily: I am proud of the fact that I am going into my third year of business and the growth I’ve had! I have hired an employee and added a whole new product line (reed diffusers).
NJMOM: What is something few people know about you?
Emily: I’m from a tiny little town in Ohio called Castalia. I love to travel, but as I’ve gotten older, I hate flying… I need that glass of prosecco beforehand! I am a new gardener, I love learning how to grow all kinds of fruits and vegetables and teaching my kids has been so fun! I dance whenever I hear music, know the words to most songs and will always be pouring wine at my house if you visit!
NJMOM: What can we expect from you next year – personally and professionally?
Emily: In the coming year I want to continue to grow my business and offer new exciting scents, all while keeping it fun! I would love to host reed diffuser or candle making workshops locally and partner with the community for pop-up shops. Personally, I have a goal to get into the city more often with the kids and have date nights with my husband.
NJMOM: What charitable cause are you most passionate about?
Emily: My dad and nephew are both Type 1 Diabetics. My daughter was recently diagnosed at the age of 9 with Type 1 Diabetes as well. For this reason, JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Fund) and Beyond Type 1 have been near our hearts and we give back as a business but also personally. My daughter started her own hair tie business, Julia’s Ties For a Cure, that also gives back to diabetic research. We have come so far with the advancement of this disease, but there is so much more that can be done.
NJMOM: Who is your role model? Why?
Emily: I have many people that I admire and look up to; however, the main one would have to be my dad. He taught us to work hard and always do our best no matter what. He has been through cancer three times in his lifetime and pushed through with strength and perseverance like no other. His belief in God and prayer got him through the hardest of times with brain cancer. He is such an inspiration to me.
NJMOM: Do you have a favorite quote you live by? Why is this quote so important to you?
Life is 10% what happens to us and 90% how we react to it.” – Charles R. Swindoll
I believe in keeping a positive outlook on all life throws at me. I find that my positive approach brings me more joy and inspires people around me.
NJMOM: What are your favorite things to do in New Jersey with your family?
Emily: As a family, we love going to the Papermill Playhouse for shows. We usually like to make it a special celebration and go to dinner at The Carriage House before. We love visiting Hoboken to stroll along Washington Street and take in the views of the city. Turtleback Zoo is still a popular spot for our kids. A few trips each summer to Spring Lake beach are a must!
NJMOM: What is the best part about being a mom for you?
Emily: Being a mom is my most important job of all! I love watching my kids (ages 10 and 7) grow up and seeing what their passions are. I love spending quality time together traveling, creating our own traditions and lazy days spent at home together watching movies. It’s crazy to think as parents we are preparing our children for their next chapter of their life and we have a short time to instill our morals and values – every day counts!
NJMOM: What are your favorite businesses in New Jersey?
Emily: We love to eat! Some of our favorite restaurants are Amanda’s and Anthony David’s in Hoboken. Ninety Acres and Restaurant Serenade are wonderful for special occasions. If the kids are with us, you will find us at The Boxcar in town. A few of my favorite stores that also happen to sell my candles… Boll & Branch at the Short Hills Mall, The Great House in Summit, Highline Fashion and Paper Ribbon & Wrap in Millburn, Art with Heart in Chatham and The Local Line in Red Bank. All amazing shops and shop owners! I can’t say enough about each and every one of those stores.
NJMOM: Where do you reside and vacation in New Jersey?
Emily: We live in Short Hills and before that we were in Hoboken for five years.
NJMOM: What advice might you have for a fellow NJMOMpreneur who is just starting out?
Emily: Just take the leap! It might not be perfect and that’s okay. You might think in a month you’ll feel more prepared, you won’t. I am so glad I took that advice, I’d probably still be worrying about my website.
NJMOM: Anything else you’d like to tell moms in New Jersey?
Emily: I would love to connect with other NJ moms! Reach out and let’s have coffee!