The Vendor is a PocketApp series that features creators and professionals who sell on PocketApp. They’ll share why they started their business, how they’ve evolved and what they’ve learnt along the way.
In 2021, Mina Hartins quit her job in oil and gas to focus on her business. Now, a founder of three businesses, one of which began as a hobby, Mina Hartins is still determined to keep going. For The Vendor, Mina talks to us about leaving her job, discovering candle-making and why she started Faro Candles (stylised as ˈFa.ro Candles).
How did you find yourself in business?
My business journey started in 2018, when I began a thrift clothing store to support myself financially. In July 2021, when news about the potential decline of Nigeria’s oil industry became public, I quit my job and pivoted into business full-time. I transformed my thrift store into a clothing business, and I also took some courses to transform my candle-making hobby into a business.
Candle making is a unique hobby. Where did that come from?
I battled with insomnia for the longest time. One night, around July last year, I read that reading a boring book helps one fall asleep quickly. One night I decided to try it, and I stumbled upon a book on candle-making, which I considered boring enough. But I finished it before sleeping. It didn’t take long before I tried it out and it became something I did when I was bored. I took more classes on incorporating scents and colours, and that’s how it became a hobby.
Leaving a job in oil and gas for business must’ve been hard. Were there any fears?
Yes, there were. There were nights when I was worried that I could fail. Uncertainty is scary, but I had to do what I needed to do. I knew that if I put in the work, it was going to turn out well. That confidence, and the willingness to learn just kept propelling me.
How were the first few months of starting Faro candles?
PocketApp played a very important role in it; it was still AbegApp. The app had just added the market feature, and I was trying to decide if I should start selling the candles. One of my friends had mentioned that I could just list it on the AbegApp store. I did, and I got my first order within 3 days. I was super excited. And then I was scared because it was the first time I made a sale. A couple of days later, the second order came in, and it was significantly more than the first one. I didn’t even have labels and packaging boxes. But the orders made me go searching for packaging ideas. My first six sales were from PocketApp before I moved into social media. That was what propelled the business to what it is right now.
How has your experience been growing with the app?
I’m a pro-PocketApp person. Everything I have to say about the app is positive. Apart from the smooth sales process, I love that it helps with your accounting and banking needs by creating a bank account for your store. That has been one of the most interesting features. Even outside of the app, I still inform my customers to pay into the PocketApp account. Accounting is a crucial part of business and business growth. That has made operations so rewarding for me.
How do you optimise your store for faster discovery and sales?
Posting regularly and updating my products; ensuring that my products are of value and the prices are clear. PocketApp is built in such a way that it is easier for customers to find you and your product or service; don’t make it harder.
Where did the name — Faro Candles — come from?
When I thought about transforming the candle-making hobby into a business, the phrase that was consistent in my mind was “be the light”. I eventually settled for the Italian word, Faro, which translates to ‘lighthouse’. It resonated with me because the period of leaving my job to start a business was very uncertain for me. A lighthouse is something sailors look to in order to lead them back home. Faro, the brand, is like a lighthouse. Whatever we produce is supposed to give you a sense of direction, make you feel at home, and serve as a lighthouse. That’s the vision of the company.
Any advice for young business owners who are trying to transition from corporate to entrepreneurship?
Don’t focus on fear, because fear will always be there. Focus, instead, on what you want to achieve with the venture. If success in business is what you want to achieve, focus on it and get knowledge. The journey is easier when you know what you’re doing.