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From classroom to boardroom: Humber student launches eco-friendly business

Xana Mills is a graduating Bachelor of Digital Communications student. During her program, she completed a marketing internship at Dine Alone Records and was hired as a freelancer for Jack Links Canada. Most recently, she founded and created Glowvine Candles, a company whose mission is to change the way we think about home decor sustainability, and won the Humber Launch Me Competition for her hard work and ingenuity. We caught up with Xana via email to hear more about her business and how it developed over her time at Humber.

What is Glowvine? How did you come up with the concept?

Glowvine is a brand that sells eco-friendly candles that are given a second life by becoming a planter after the candle has finished burning. The user also can also purchase a candle refill from Glowvine for their vessel if they wish to continue using it as a candle. They come in various colours and fragrances, and the customer can customize their candle by choosing the colour and scent combination they prefer.

I wanted to explore e-commerce for my digital communications capstone project, and the first thing that came to mind was candles. They are small and easy to ship and within my budget for the project. I could easily brand them the way I wanted. Candles were perfect because they are such an easy way to make your home a little nicer, plus I'm an avid user of them. I purchased some samples from a local manufacturer with the idea of doing a private label. When I had nearly finished one of the candles, I realized how wasteful the candles' glass vessels are and thought there must be a better way. I looked over to the plant sitting on my desk, and it hit me- what if the candle vessel turned into a plant pot when the candle was finished burning? After discussing the idea with people close to me and support from my program co-ordinator, I decided to give it a shot and create my own. I experimented with different materials and eventually developed the finished product.

How did the business develop during your program capstone course?

I would say the capstone course helped me develop my business! Through my program, I learned so many necessary skills regarding the branding, marketing and web development aspects of the business. Part of my capstone project was to create a business plan, which I learned to do with the Longo Centre for Entrepreneurship. I had strict deadlines I had to meet with my progress which kept me from procrastinating. These deadlines not only helped me to keep my business development on track, but I also received support and suggestions from my advisor.

Because I started my business as my thesis project, the pressure was less focused on creating a "successful" business and more of a project that I would be proud to call my own. This mindset is what allowed me the freedom to create Glowvine without the stress of questioning if people were going to like it. Fortunately, it turns out that they do, which has encouraged me to do this full time post graduation.

Describe your experience with the Longo Centre for Entrepreneurship Launch Me competition.

I was introduced to the Longo Centre for Entrepreneurship in my second year by a fantastic professor. She encouraged us to tap into all of the resources the Longo CfE offers. When I started working on the project, I decided to look into the Longo CfE to see if there were any business training classes I could take because I'm a media student, not a business student. I stumbled across the Launch Me competition on their website. I registered for the business plan writing classes and the pitch presentation classes, which were essential to the creation of Glowvine. I applied with my business plan and moved on to the finalist round, where we had to present our pitch to a panel of judges, which was highly nerve-wracking but worth it.

What's next for you and Glowvine?

Glowvine will launch for presale on April 16th and officially launch on May 1st. My immediate plan is to find studio space and hire employees to help me with the production. I already have some exciting initiatives planned with local businesses for Earth Day and getting Glowvine candles into some local brick-and-mortar stores. I am absolutely overwhelmed by the positive response the brand has received online and really looking forward to growing.

If you had one piece of advice to share with Humber students who aspire to launching their own businesses, what would that be?

Take a chance on yourself! Doing something like this is exactly what people mean when they tell you to step outside your comfort zone. It's terrifying and exciting at the same time. You have nothing to lose; at the very minimum, you're gaining valuable experience. There are so many amazing, supportive people at Humber who are there to help you, like your professors or the Longo Centre for Entrepreneurship, all of which I encourage you to utilize, and don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it.

To learn more about Glowvine, follow them on Instagram, Facebook and TikTok or visit Connect with Xana directly on LinkedIn.

Xana Mills

Photo credit: Sam Coyle