‘Top 10’ is just the start for solopreneur lighting up the candle market

“If Amazon didn’t exist, our company wouldn’t exist,” said Hemlock Park owner, as he looks to grow his business exponentially.

2 min
May 7, 2024
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Laid off from a startup during COVID, Mikey Kim had $500 and a lot of free time. The entrepreneur turned to a hobby he had developed during adolescence and bought candle and soap making supplies with his severance. Through YouTube videos, Kim said he re-taught himself the artisan craft. Still on lockdown, he began selling is prototypes in the Amazon store and within a month, his candles sold out.

The creation of Hemlock Park reads like an ‘accidental entrepreneur’ story, but Mikey Kim is anything but “accidental.” Kim is a Yale, Fashion Institute of Technology and Berkeley graduate, who has grown and sold businesses before he dipped his first Hemlock Park candle. Taking what he knew about retail and marketing and what he learned about the candle industry, Mikey Kim started building his store in Amazon with the same passion he has put towards every other pursuit.

Together with his Amazon Strategic Account Service (SAS) manager, Kim said they built his Amazon store strategy, leveraging the tools and services Amazon could offer to make data-driven decisions to streamline and grow his business. Kim said it’s been valuable to have someone he can trust, who knows the ins and outs of Amazon. Every move for the last three years has put Kim one step closer to reaching his goal of ‘Top 10’ in one of the most competitive categories in the Amazon store.

“Having the option to work with a SAS manager to grow my business is like having a partner in Amazon,” said Kim. “As a small business, I manage everything Amazon myself, so it’s been valuable to have someone guiding me to programs, funding and services I can use to my advantage.”

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Hemlock Park’s products are petroleum-free, cruelty-free, phthalate-free and vegan.

Last year, Hemlock Park hit ‘Top 10’ in the subset of natural’s category and this year, Kim is about to start farming, literally, for ‘Top 10’ in the entire candle category of more than 5,000 sellers. Kim bought land near his warehouse in Reno and plans to be one of the only commercial candle makers to grow and distill their own essential oils used in their products.

It fits their brand mission of sustainability and quality, which Kim has been relentless about protecting as it’s their differentiator in the market. Hemlock Park creates natural candles and aromatherapy from plant-based ingredients, sustainably. All of their products are petroleum-free, cruelty-free, phthalate-free and vegan. By partnering with One Tree Planted, they’re able to achieve a carbon-neutral shipping commitment with every purchase.

Amazon is where Hemlock Park started, but it’s no longer the only sales channel they use. Selling wholesale through Faire and direct-to-consumers from their website, now make up 40% of sales, with the other 60% coming from his Amazon store. As he continues to expand his business, Kim said, he’ll always be grateful to Amazon and his account manager.

“If Amazon didn’t exist, our company wouldn’t exist,” said Kim. “I know people think Amazon’s like this huge company, ‘it’s corporate,’ but it’s actually a lot of small businesses that make up the majority of the sales on Amazon. We wouldn’t have been able to have grown the way we did without the support we received from Amazon. It’s the reason why we have two warehouses now in Northern Nevada and how we got on the ‘Top 10’ last year.”

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