We had the good fortune of connecting with Alicia Darian and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Alicia, maybe we can start at the very start – the idea – how did you come up with the idea for your business?
I have always had a love for arts and crafts, creating things with my hands, and an appreciation for the city where I was born and raised–Atlanta. Setting moods and creating a vibe while listening to music, or writing, and burning scents that relax me, are a few of my favorite pastimes. So, around March of 2020 when Atlanta received a “Shelter in place” advisory, I had more time on my hands and I decided to play into one of my many interest that I had been considering since Fall 2019, and that was to learn how to make my own candles from scratch. After supporting big-name candle chains for so long, I started to gain an interest in making my own scent combinations and candles that were reminiscent of the things I loved. So, I started to study how to make natural candles with essential oils that completely appealed to certain aspects of my life. I wanted scents to be reminiscent of things that bring me nostalgia, like how aromas typically do for most people. I fell in love with the craft and decided to turn my hobby into a small-business venture. It was a no brainer when it was time to naming the candle line because I wanted the name to represent the makings of me and where I come from. I wanted the name of the candle line and candles to have a creative appeal that incorporated both earthiness and sweetness, as well as exude a fun play on words—basically all things that define me to some degree. As a result, ATL-Vibes Co. Candles LLC. was ignited summer of 2020, during the height of the Pandemic–“We create the vibe, and you light the way!”

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I am an Educator first and then a self-proclaimed “Candle Making Queen” immediately after that. Teaching and learning have always been two of my passions. So naturally when it came to candle-making everything was self-taught because I love to learn, especially when something completely captivates my attention. The field of Education allows me to lead, organize, and be creative; I get that same fulfillment with operating and making products for ATL-Vibes Co. However, as a small business owner one the biggest hurdles thus far has been spreading the word about my new candle-line and gaining support on social media platforms and beyond, from strangers. Luckily, most of my customers have been people from my immediate network and community by word of mouth from those individuals, which I am appreciative for having.

I know more people will discover the candle-line in due time, but I’ve realized a few drawbacks to having a small business. A major obstacle is the reluctance to purchase from strangers. I truly believe many people will see what I am doing and love it but are hesitant to support it because of past experiences they’ve had with “Black-owned small businesses” … and in most cases–they’ve probably overly criticized small Black-owned businesses to begin with, even prior to purchasing their goods. So, my biggest lesson thus far has been to not give up no matter how much or little support I get from outsiders…I simply must keep doing what I love and enjoy doing, and the right people will gravitate towards the brand and support it when the timing is just right. I have truly enjoyed this hobby turned small-business venture, and I hope it continues to expand because I have so many more ideas for it in the future.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I was born and raised in Atlanta, so taking someone on an Atlanta tour that incorporates all facets of Atlanta wouldn’t be an issue at all. I love eating, so lets start there…We would definitely go to a few of my favorite brunch spots: Augie’s Cafe (a hidden gem) on Ralph David Abernathy, Home Grown on Memorial Dr., and Thumbs Up Diner (the best location is off Main St.). For lunch we would have to swing back by Ralph David and get some Slutty Vegan (everyone who visits Atlanta has to try it out at least once whether you’re vegan or not), or we could go to Q-Time Restaurant (everyone deserves some good ol’ down south soul food from an Atlanta staple in the West End, and I love their dressing and sweet potato soufflé). Throughout the day, I’d take them shopping to a few of my faves. I’m such an “adult” these days so Home Goods would be the first stop (I am addicted to decorating my home lol). We’d swing by the Mall and let them get a feel for entering a mall with top-notch security–and that would be Lenox (wink-wink). All jokes aside it is versatile in regards to the stores selections. We’d definitely have to visit the Belt-Line and Piedmont park to either walk around, chillax, and/or bike-ride. I’d be sure to pack some beverages strictly for the adults, Piedmont is a nice melting-pot and I always enjoy the vibes there…Plus Midtown is such an eclectic vibe, which is why one of my candles is named “Midtown-Mood”–it’s just a happy place with all kinds of interesting people.

You can find somewhere to get a drink, or listen to some music, and grab a bite to eat it’s like a one-stop shop type of ordeal…I’m not a clubber these days, but we would go to Ten Atlanta and catch a nice little chill lounge vibe with some good music as well, they usually have a great DJ there…St. James Live would be on the agenda at some point too, I love live music and they book high energy and talented musicians. One of the days we could slide down to one of my old faithful areas “Peter’s Street” or “Edgewood” and see if anything catches our eye because they both have a plethora of lounges/bars to choose from. Of course, I would take them on a Downtown and a Westside tour just for nostalgia purposes–this could give them a glimpse of gentrification as well. There are tons of parks to visit, as well as historic communities to visit, and I definitely have a “Westside Story” or two to share as we ride around listening to a playlist strictly dedicated to real Atlanta culture (a little Kilo, Outkast, Monica, D4L, Ludacris, T.I., DG Yola, Dem Franchize Boyz, The Shop Boyz, Rich Kidz, Pastor Troy, lets throw a little Raheem Da Dream in there too, SoSo Def hits–I could go on and on, but basically just a mixture dedicated to old Atlanta bops period).

Lastly, to incorporate a little art because I am one of those “I like art-types”, we could definitely visit the High Museum, or a pop-up art show, or check out the murals in Inman Park & Reynoldstown area, or even do a paint and sip somewhere. Trust me, I’d have an eventful itinerary and fun would be had…after all I do know how to set an “ATL-vibe”…hence the name of the candle-line! 🙂

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I want to give a shoutout to Shanicia Hill and Coach Gregg. They were my first supporters and the first people I initially shared the idea with. My sister has helped with taking brand photos, making labels, and she saw the vision before it became reality and encouraged me to just go for it. Coach Gregg did the same and was the first person to make a purchase as soon as he smelled my first candle. They both have been extremely encouraging and contributed to the reason why I decided to share my small business through the creation of my Etsy shop. Additionally, the support of my family, closest friends/associates, and colleagues has been something that I will always be grateful for and cherish, so shout-out to all of those who’ve genuinely supported me at some point along the way.

Website: etsy.com/shop/atlvibesco

Instagram: atl_vibesco

Twitter: @AtlCandles

Facebook: ATLvibesCo

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