We had the good fortune of connecting with Melissa Watkins and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Melissa, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
So I was a few months pregnant with my daughter Skylar which is where the name Sky Lyte comes from. There was something so calming to always walking into a room with a candle burning. But I started to notice that they were making me extremely sick, I was getting these massive headaches, and would become super nauseous. I first thought it was the pregnancy but then my husband started to get sick as well. So most of my candles had been purchased from big box stores. My then-boyfriend stated that he didn’t think it was safe or healthy for any of us. That’s when I started to look into what was actually in these candles and did not like what I uncovered. So figured I was gonna turn to YouTube and see what I could find out about candle making. After countless hours of videos and several stops to Michael’s I started making candles. It wasn’t the easiest thing to do, as a matter of fact, it is a lot harder than the videos lead on to. So after many months of trying and $4,000.00 later I finally got it right. YouTube gives you the basics but not the actual formula that is for each individual to figure out. And that is how Sky Lyte was born. My mission is to produce Luxury products at an affordable price for all to enjoy.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Our candles are soy-bassed we use a hemp wick coated in beeswax which allows for a bigger flame but a slower burn. Our 8oz traveler tin burn for 30 plus hours. All of our scents are unique to our brand I knew competing with big box stores was gonna be hard because they can mass produce quicker than I can. So I did my research on what they carried in their lines and I picked everything they didn’t carry to put in our line. Our high-end fragrance oils will ignite your aura in the most calming & relaxing way taking you on a mental get away from everyday life. Our journey wasn’t the easiest, 13 months after having my daughter we had our son Bradley this was the first year we were actually putting our brand out there to share with people other than our friends and family. So our first year I was paying to participate in every and any event I had could to get my product out there. Let just say that there are a lot of ppl out in this world who will just take your money and not provide the traffic of shoppers to make it worth the booth fee or your time spent! I literally had a spreadsheet of events, cost, time & what we made because I was not gonna waste money or time the next year. The next year I found events better suited for our brand like One of a Kind holiday market which is the biggest midwest artisan show of the year we were 1 of 300 makers. As our choices of events became fitter for us our brand became to grow. Our community started to grow and the Sky Lyters( what we call our candle supporters) started to grow. Our luxury candles were now a household thing. Then like most businesses we were shut down by Covid 19. So all of our big shows were canceled. We were stuck with what do we do now. I now had to learn how to make my online presents way more relevant, but that would require marketing money. The Sky Lyte community did not forget about us during these trying times. So we started to look into other ways possible to get our products out there since there were no face-to-face sales. We got our products on Amazon, way fair, and other smaller wholesale orders. We then got connected to the Painted Tree and we accepted to become apart of their family. Painted Tree has 9 locations across the united states they are a retail store for Handcrafted makers. So we rented out a 6×10 space located in Naperville IL. Sky Lyte has grown so much and we still have so much more to grow. Sorry, I am so long-winded I just love the way our products make people feel, and that makes me feel great.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
We would start off with coffee at Muse Coffee Studio located at 747 S. Western Ave. Chicago Il, Then head over to the Pilsen area for some of the best Thai food in the city and that is Ghin Khao Eat Rice located at 2128 W. Cermak Rd, Chicago IL oh did I mention it is BYOB can’t go wrong. Then head over to the Mesler bar for a nice cockatiel located in the Hyde Park area of Chicago, IL by now it’s about time for dinner so we would then head west to the Woodlawn area and have dinner at The Woodlawn restaurant located at 1200 E. 79th St. Chicago IL they have delicious healthy food that takes your taste buds on a food journey suitable for any palet. For a nightcap head back to the South Loop & have a drink at Bureau Bar atmosphere is so warm and inviting just like their signature cocktails.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My husband Andre Watkins has supported me through our amazing journey. As well all of our family & friends who help us by watching our two children while we spent countless hours at tradeshows or festivals trying to get our product out to the world. Las Lolitas Production LLC. for always including Sky Lyte in all of their events and allow us to have an avenue to get our amazing candles out there. The Woodlawn restaurant & Jayilla with The Get Busy for being our biggest cheerleaders.
Angiestar photograph, Isabella Castillo, Marisa Diaz-Arce, & Yvette Magallon