Brandon Bechtel started his Thursday morning writing emails, ordering inventory and preparing paperwork.
In the evening, he delivered candle-making supplies to an Amazon warehouse and got home around 2 a.m. the next day. At 8 a.m., he caught up on emails again before going to class at 10 a.m.
Bechtel, a freshman finance major, owns and operates Brandon’s Candles, a candle company where he sells homemade candles, soaps and lotions online, at gift shops and in stores.
Alongside his business, he opened two The Candle Studio locations where customers are able to make their own candles.
Bechtel’s interest in making candles came from googling hobbies out of boredom when he was 13 years old. Now, his company has made more than $1 million in sales, and he’s overseeing 13 employees.
He’s opened two candle studio locations in Skippack, Pennsylvania, and Old City in Philadelphia this year, and is expecting to open a location in Baltimore, Maryland this month.
“I wasn’t really looking to make it into something big or something wildly successful or anything, you know, I was just looking for something to do,” Bechtel said.
Bechtel then started pouring candles in his basement and selling them on Etsy and craft shows at schools.
Two years later, he began selling his candles on Amazon Handmade, a marketplace for artisans to showcase their work worldwide, and hired his neighbor as a part-time employee due to its increasing success.
“I got a lot more customers through that and a lot more feedback, lot more positive reviews, and then really just being on Amazon I would say propelled me to kind of the next level in candles,” Bechtel said.
At 17, he started selling at-home candle-making supplies and moved out of his basement to a warehouse in Telford, Pennsylvania, where he now makes and sells his candles for $9.95 to $19.95.
“Brandon Bechtel’s incredible entrepreneurial story serves as a reminder that anyone with the courage to dream and the will to pursue that dream can thrive in the business world, regardless of their means or their experience,” wrote Ronald Anderson, dean of Fox School of Business, in an email to The Temple News.
This year, Bechtel pushed to get his candles to retailers in the Philadelphia area, like S.A. Oliver & Co, a gift shop offering customers the candle-making experience.
At The Candle Studio, customers are able to choose from over 100 different scents, pour their own candles and label their creation for about $20 per person.
“It’s a really neat concept beyond just buying a candle on Amazon and burning it in your home,” Bechtel said.
Jason Breslin, Bechtel’s roommate helped build The Candle Studio new Old City location he now works at.
“I learn different things about like jar styles and jar sizes, things I’ve never in a million years thought I would learn,” Breslin added.
Racheal Bechtel, Brandon Bechtel’s mom, said she sometimes wonders how her son manages to be a founder of his own company, while also being a full-time college student, but is not surprised by her son’s ambition.
“He’s always had, you know, a vision of working and being busy and getting things accomplished so he would come up with an idea, and sometimes he didn’t even run it by anybody and he would just start doing something” Racheal Bechtel added.
Brandon Bechtel’s biggest challenge has been time management and enjoying being a student, he said.
“I do try to combat that with just still making the time to study with friends, or stuff like that, to show my friends I am still a student at Temple and not only worried about my business and that’s why I’m here,” he added.