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From kitchen to Bloomingdale’s to online success: How this small business founder pivoted her strategy during the pandemic

Robert Exley Jr.

 

You’ve likely spent a lot of time at home over the past couple of years.


When Teri Johnson, founder of the Harlem Candle Co., realized how serious the Covid-19 shutdown was going to be, she ordered as much inventory as she could.

The Harlem resident founded the company in 2014 and personally designs each candle to honor and capture the essence of neighborhood icons such as Langston Hughes, James Baldwin, Billie Holiday and Duke Ellington.

Johnson banked on people wanting to be transported elsewhere while being trapped at home, and a good fragrance could do just that, she said.

But she also knew that the major retailers, such as Bloomingdale’s, that carried her company’s candles could be closed for some time.

“We started spending money on digital advertising, which we hadn’t done before,” said Johnson. It was a success. Sales hit record highs in 2020. Check out this video to learn more about Harlem Candle Co. and the woman who brought it to life.

 

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