An Interview with Mandy Mathis, Founder of Salt & Shore Company
For those lucky enough to meet Mandy Mathis, founder of Salt & Shore Company here in Savannah, it doesn’t take long to realize she’s one of the good ones. With a quick wit, boundless kindness, and a go-getter attitude, you can usually find her surrounded by other forward-thinking entrepreneurs - when she’s not hard at work in her studio, that is.
Salt & Shore is a small company that’s made a big splash since it hit the Low Country scene in early fall of 2017. Since then, Mandy’s candles have found their way into a myriad of luxury retail locations, showcases, wedding celebrations, and countless homes.
It’s been a lot of fun to watch - and as I’m lucky enough to call myself her friend, I thought I’d get the lowdown on what makes her tick, her impressive entrepreneurial savvy, and what inspired Savannah’s little candle company that could.
Brenna: It’s been so fun following your entrepreneurial journey, and seeing your candle company reach amazing heights - we're extra interested in learning why
you do it. What is, or has been, your greatest inspiration for your work?
Well as you know, I am a candle maker focusing on healthy, safe candle options for families and consumers. I was inspired to start a candle company when I realized that there weren't many candle options available that are safe for consumption on the market. When I began doing research I realized that candles can produce a lot of toxins that aren't good for you.
I wanted to offer people a product they felt good about burning but also brought back memories or feelings of nostalgia. For me, a candle can bring people back to a time in their life where they felt happy, safe, warm, included and secure. Especially given how many people come to our great city of Savannah to visit, I want to give them something they can take home with them to remember their travels and the fun they had while visiting the Hostess City.
Brenna: What makes your work, art, etc. invaluable to the world? Meaning, what piece of the larger story are you telling - what does your work stand for or represent? Is it a story of hope? Patience? Passion?
I think the bigger story I am trying to tell through Salt & Shore is a story of perseverance, strength and dedication. When I knew I wanted to start my own company, I knew I would face a lot of uncertainty, fear, failure and growth. I didn't know anything about running a business - which is scary - but I knew I could figure it out.
Back in my mid-20's I had lost my job, sold all my belongings and moved to Chicago, IL with hopes of living the big city life. I didn't know anyone, I had nowhere to live, but I took a leap of faith and saw real success in my life that came from hard work and belief in myself that I could do anything I put my mind to. That memory and that experience gave me the strength and the power to start Salt & Shore and give up the comfort of my high-paying marketing career to pursue this passion. I want others to know that story - know that if you believe in yourself and have faith, success will come.
Brenna: What roles do the people around you play in your work? How do they inform and inspire what you do?
Hearing what scents people love, what makes them think of fall or think of summer at the beach, inspires me to curate scents that stroke those feelings to life. When I overhear tourists at restaurants say what they love about Savannah, I try to capture that in a candle.
Brenna: How has Savannah helped to bring your work to life? If you were to leave here, how would that change the narrative around what you do?
I think Savannah is THE place for entrepreneurs. There is space for new creative ideas and everyone in this city welcomes you, supports you and gives you opportunities to shine and grow. If Salt & Shore wasn't based in Savannah I don't know how true that would be elsewhere. I honestly believe it takes a village to raise a child and a village to run a company, all of which I think Savannah holds one of the greatest villages that we can honestly see dates back years to when the first settlers landed here, opened their own stores and grew a community.
Brenna: What has been the oddest thing about your journey?
I think the oddest thing about this entire process has been just how simple and easy it has been to launch this company. Mind you, there have been hard times but the blessings and opportunities that have just naturally come to me have been "odd" in a sense. Maybe it is because I never thought in a million years that some of the partnerships and relationships would develop so quickly, or maybe it's just my mentality - I work hard to keep humble. I guess if you can call success "odd" then that has been the oddest thing.
If not, I guess I would have to say using a storage facility as my workshop, surrounded by construction workers, old antiques, and dorm room furniture, is a pretty odd place to create an office but it works!
Brenna: If there was one thing about you and your work that you would want the world to know, what would it be?
The word genuine is the first word that comes to mind. As a person, I focus hard on being genuine and letting people see that in my words and my actions. I always want everyone to feel welcome and at home, as though you were never a stranger. I want that attitude and heart-felt action to be embodied in the candles I make and the brand that develops over the years. I want everyone to know they have a genuine, hand-made product. No candle looks exactly the same, it's one of a kind and special, just like the my clients are.
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