Salimah Scott, our NJ Mompreneur of the Week, is a bonafide numbers person, but there’s always been a creative spirit tugging at her. During the aftermath of her divorce three years ago, she would burn a candle nightly to relax—so much that when she ran through her stash of gifted candles, rather than go out to buy more, her creative juices started flowing. After experimenting with the ratio of wax to fragrance and smelling more scent combos than she could count, a side hustle was born. Three years in, Urban GLO candles are beautiful handmade soy wax vessels infused with essential oil blends selling out online and at pop-up shops and events, and Salimah’s kids, Sharif, 13, and Saryn, 6, couldn’t be prouder. We chatted with this Union mom to find out the value of having a side hustle, what surprised her most about her candles, and two shore spots she’ll go to when she’s with her kids (and without).
What prompted you to start your own candle company? I have a full-time day job working in the accounting field, and Urban GLO is my passion project side gig. After my divorce was finalized, I tried to find ways to rediscover myself, and every evening I’d find myself relaxing with some candles. It became my nightly ritual, and when I ran out of candles, I was determined to make them myself rather than buy more. Because I have a math brain, measurements and percentages are my jam, and I had a lot of fun and success coming up with scents and perfecting the ratio of wax to fragrance. I officially launched in April 2020 with three different candles and have been growing ever since.
You are a self-professed numbers person, so your accounting job seems like a natural fit, but did you always see yourself as a “maker,” too? I was never really encouraged to align myself with my creative side, but when I was 18, I helped out my aunt, a wedding coordinator. I soon realized how much I enjoyed doing something creative—I can make special party favors and a mean balloon arch. She also taught me the value of how to have your own thing and that you don’t have to put your dreams on the backburner—you can still have your 9-5 but do something on the side that fills your soul, too. Because of that experience, I wasn’t afraid to try, and I knew I could figure out how to create wonderful candles.
How do you come up with your scents? Is there a fan favorite? Different things inspire me, so there’s no rhyme or reason for what I create. I always come up with scent combos that smell good to me, and I know that if I like it, others will, too. Scent is so personal and subjective, which is why everyone has their favorites. Even though all of the candles do well in their own right, everyone is crazy in love with the Eucalyptus Lemongrass (Signature #2)—I cannot keep it in stock. I like to switch things up a bit depending on my mood, but if I have to pick a personal favorite, it’s my Sandalwood Kisses (Classic #3), which is so relaxing it centers and calms me.
What were the first steps you took to get your business started? First and foremost, I started my LLC because that’s my background, and it comes naturally to me. Then I created a business name and came up with the logo. It’s funny, but most of my ideas come to me when I’m sleeping—I’ll wake up in the middle of the night or very early in the morning and use the notepad in my phone to jot things down.
What do you hope your children learn from seeing you run your own business? I want them to know that you must take care of your priorities first to have the life you want. That’s how you go after your dream and create your own future. My daughter is too young to go to the events with me, but she is very proud of me and loves that I do this. And my son will work events, and when he’s there, he’s really on and can even handle the customers if I step away for a moment. Recently we did an Arts in the Park Festival, a juried art show and street fair in Highland Park, and Urban GLO won third place in our category. Sharif could not have been more proud!
What’s next for you and your business? I’m working hard on continuing to develop myself as an entrepreneur. Eventually, I’d like to have a boutique-style storefront that’s cozy and quaint, and I’d love it to be a place where the community wants to gather. I also have my products placed at some retail shops, and I have done pop-ups and events and will continue to do them.
What surprised you the most about this business? Though I have this real creative streak, my brain is wired for me to be a numbers person, so when I was naming my candles, I decided to go with numbers instead of names. I did worry customers wouldn’t remember which candles they love, but I’ve found that my customers connect with specific candles and those numbers stick in their brains.
What are some of your favorite NJ businesses? I really like Moonshine Supper Club. It’s a great place to go with friends for a meal, but I enjoy it so much I’ve been known to go there alone and get some writing work done. Another favorite I’m always happy to support is Krissy’s Kakes. Their strawberry crunch tres leche and regular tres leches are the absolute best. Her cakes are so unique and delicious that I had her make my daughter’s 6th birthday cake.
Please share some places in NJ that you and your family enjoy. Our favorite seasonal thing to do is apple and pumpkin picking. Though we don’t play favorites and like trying out different farms, we went to and enjoyed Eastmont Orchards this year. Another favorite family thing to do is Diggerland USA. We used to go when Sarif was young and into construction-type play, but they’ve since added a water park which we absolutely love now. Also, we love a good beach day—my kids are into anything with water and swimming. We’re fans of Point Pleasant because they have the boardwalk and rides. But, when I go to the beach without the kids, I usually head to Long Beach Island because I can relax there. It’s beautiful and calm, and the water seems bluer.
What’s your best piece of advice for an NJ Mompreneur just starting? It’s crucial to learn to say no. It’s challenging juggling children and a business, so don’t feel pressured to participate in everything. Also, do something you’re passionate about because that will take you further than if you’re just trying to make a quick dollar or two.