Interview: Liber deStella (Bookish Candles & Merch)
Everyone, meet Sara! She’s the mastermind behind one of my all time favorite bookish merch shops – Liber DeStella! If you follow me on instagram (@herbookishthings), you’ve probably seen photos of her beautiful candles and jewelry. One of my favorite things about Sarah is that she’s an avid book reader just like us! Her products reflect her passion for the book world.
Sara has been such an inspiration to me. She’s incredibly talented, and manages to run a small business while suffering from a chronic illness (and somehow does an amazing job at it despite her struggles.) As a small business owner and someone who is also battling a chronic condition, I really relate to Sarah and admire her for her persistence and good spirit.
Your shop name is so cool, but what does it mean?
So Liber deStella started because I had already had another business, mainly bohemian inspired jewelry, for a number of years. And I had started to notice that I was making a lot of bookish jewelry. I wanted to separate that out into it’s own business for branding purposes, because it just didn’t make sense to have bookish things and bohemian things in the same shop.
So my other business is named Bella deLuna. It’s Latin and I wanted to keep the new business name in line with the Latin theme. My husband (jokingly) said it should have something to do with stars since the other business name includes the moon. So I started thinking and came up Book of Stars – or Liber deStella (you’ll notice my logo is my name – a book of stars). And because no one ever knows how to say it liber = lie-ber, like library. 😉
What are some of the challenges of being a small business owner?
Staying on top of everything! I tend to try to focus on one area at a time to avoid overwhelm, because it can certainly get overwhelming! So one day I’ll really focus in on marketing and social media (and taking photos), while the next I’ll plan and create new candles or perfumes.
It’s also tough because like most small businesses, it’s just me. So trying to keep up with all the ares (marketing, production, admin, accounting, shipping..) can really lead to burnout if I’m not careful about how I’m spending my time. This means setting work hours and doing my best to not work on the weekends. Even if that just means spinning around in a chair all weekend saying I’m bored because I don’t know how to not work. 😉
What are some of the most rewarding parts about being a small business
I really enjoy that I only make things that I love. Every candle I’ve made, I’ve made it because I loved the book and really felt inspired and connected to that world the author created. And then seeing other people connect in the same way just brings such a smile to my face. I’ve had folks tell me they were waiting to read a book until they got a certain candle from me, so they could read the book while burning the candle and there is nothing better than that. The flexibility of being my own boss is also super rewarding. There are days where I wake up and I know I either need the day off or I need to work fewer hours that day, because I’m either sick or having a high pain day due to my endometriosis. Working for myself allows me that freedom, and I know that I’m enough of a type-A workaholic to more than make up for the time later on. That’s really saved me lately from spiraling into a well of frustration, as my endometriosis has gotten worse, but I’m lucky enough to be able to take time off when I need it and really put my health first.
How did you get into candle making?
I actually started in high school! I went through a phase in high school where I pretty much tried out every craft I could get my hands on, and candle making was one of those. At the time I made pillars and little flower shaped wax tarts. I stopped when I entered college and then one day it struck me that I could use my candle making knowledge for bookish candles and I’ve been obsessively making candles since.
What is your favorite part about the candle making process?
Blending the scents, by far! Each of my candles is made using a custom scent blend – no pre-made fragrances. And I really love diving into a book to find clues on the fragrances and smells the author describes, and then taking that as inspiration for when I create my blend. That’s also how the perfumes started to come into the mix, as once I have the candle scent blend, it’s pretty simple to translate that fragrance into a skin-safe perfume (plus, who doesn’t want to walk around smelling like Rhys or Kell?).
How do you stay inspired?
I read! I’m always reading and always looking for new books to read – as that’s really where my inspiration comes from. Nature is also a big thing for me for keeping my inspiration game up. I find nothing clears my head and allows creativity to flow better than a walk or just sitting out in the garden.
What are some of your favorite books and why?
I’ve always had a soft spot for Pride and Prejudice and Jane Eyre. Sassy, tough leading ladies are kind of my thing. Right now A Conjuring of Light is on that list (Lila!) because it was such a perfect ending to the series. I re-read The Kushiel series (Jacqueline Carey) and The Black Jewels Trilogy (Anne Bishop) every other year. I love high fantasy with a little bit of romance. Also The Earth’s Children series by Jean M. Auel is a favorite that I re-read every few years – but it’s a HUGE series so if you want to read them all back-to-back, be sure to have some time set aside.
If you could choose to live in any fictional world, which would it be?
Oh this one is tough! Definitely a world with magic, like the world for Anne Bishop’s The Black Jewels Trilogy or perhaps Red London.
One thing I’m passionate about is spreading awareness about chronic illness. Would you mind telling us a little bit about the struggles you face and how it relates to your shop / staying positive?
I do have endometriosis, and I was diagnosed with it 10 years ago. Every day is different. Some days I feel relatively ‘normal’ and I get so much done. Other days I find that I’m moving slower and it’s a struggle to focus through the pain and discomfort. Some days I pretty much don’t move at all other than to get my heating pad and pain medication. Running Liber deStella allows me the flexibility I need to go with the flow and how my body is feeling that day – which I’m so, so thankful for. People may not realize it, but by supporting my shop, they are supporting so much more than my business. They’re supporting my health and my peace of mind. I can put my health first because of this business. If I was at a 9-to-5 job, I would probably run out of sicks days quickly, which would mean forcing myself to work through the pain, which would just cause more pain in the long run. I don’t have to worry about that working for myself. I think that’s why so many folks I know with chronic illnesses start a business for themselves, because it does change so much to be able to have that flexibility and freedom to support your health. For me, it’s helped me keep a positive mindset and redefine what work looks like for me, so I don’t feel pressured to live up to some corporate standard.
Thank you SO much for taking the time to answer my questions and share your story! Below are some of my favorite items from Sara’s shop – be sure to visit on your way out! www.liberdestella.com