Molly Muriel, a natural product company selling soaps, lotions, candles, bath & body oils and lip balm, started humbly as a creative outlet for owner Branda Tiffany. At the time, Branda was attending college when she decided to sign up for a candle making class. She was fascinated by how much fun it was to make things by hand. Over the next few years, her hobby expanded to include the creation of anything for which she could find a recipe. Branda never imagined that her hobby, which happened so organically for her, would one day become a business. After 7 years of creating products and simply giving them away, Branda decided to try her hand at marketing and selling them.
The business side of things was a whole new experience for her, and eventually she realized she needed financial help and a bit of capital to better brand and market her business. Once she took the plunge and contacted Mercy Corps Northwest (MCNW), her business really started rolling. Branda participated in the IDA matched-savings business grant program. The classes helped her to write an official business plan, as well as teaching her the ins and outs of her business. She had the opportunity to network, share resources, and give and receive support with other small business owners in the classes. Most importantly, she learned how to handle, track, and manage her finances.
“These courses really gave me the courage to get out of my own way and let my business unfold!” Her participation in the program helped Branda realize Molly Muriel’s potential for growth. Within a year she went from making products in her basement to opening a storefront with a staff of employees. “The boost that I got from MCNW, both financially and lesson-wise, was extraordinary. Honestly, I may still be in my basement today if it weren’t for these programs!”
Molly Muriel now employs four people including Branda, and has a retail store in the Portland area that houses their production facility. They pride themselves on being an “interactive business,” where customers can engage in the creation process that inspired Branda. They host a monthly candle making workshop and other classes that teach natural product making out of their facility. “We really want to build community and bring awareness about how simple and healthy natural products can be to create for yourself.”
Looking to the future, Branda recently signed a lease on the space next door to her storefront and will double the size of her retail and production facility. She plans to bring in more interactive creation stations for shoppers to make their own products and essential oil blends. Innovative changes at the Molly Muriel retail store will support growth in the wholesale channels, which includes around 150 stores in the US and a handful selling the Molly Muriel line internationally. Branda is confident that these numbers will continue to grow. Molly Muriel is making a name for itself while staying true to the community that nurtured it, by sharing Branda’s love for creating natural and healthy products by hand.