Mistakes, Management, & Motivation

Mistakes, Management, & Motivation

Feb 06, 2024Lacie Marsh-Carroll

How I let imposter syndrome almost ruin my company in 2023 and the 6 biggest mistakes I made. 

(This is about a 5-6 minute read)

 As some of you may know I never intended to be an entrepreneur. I was at the height of my Boeing Career, traveling all over the world inspecting and certifying aerospace assemblies for the FAA. (Side note: I did NOT certify the access panel for Alaska Airlines, but I would have been one of the people they sent to investigate why it happened.)

When I sold my first candles on Facebook marketplace I was so proud and awestruck that women related to the messages on my candles. I was the first person to put real and raw messages on candles as a way to write our shit down, set our shit on fire and let that shit go. From almost day one the criticism began. “You know what you should do?” without me even asking. Family, friends, strangers, co-workers all telling me what I SHOULD do. I ignored all the advice for a very long time, confident in my ability to pour wax in jars, set up and run a production facility and post the real shit on social media.  

You Know What You Should Do? Advice

I was the definition of successful. I had 32 employees, a 17,000 SQ Ft facility and paid all my suppliers as I ordered. I didn’t work on terms and carried zero debt. It seems the more real and open I was, the more people responded with support. Until I lost my voice.

Mistake #1 Allowing Trolls to Consume Me

I came out with a candle that I still find hilarious and stand behind. It went massively viral and I was attacked by the anti-vaxxers. This was pre-covid, so I am talking about chicken pox and measles vaccines, not the Covid vaccines. The big thing was not to vaccinate children against things like Polio?!? It was all over the news, and I remembered thinking at the time how Laura and I would for sure have had conversations about this. I released “Things That Never Get old” Infused with Dark Humor & Unvaccinated Children. The mistake is NOT that I released the candle, it was that I let the internet cause me to doubt my opinions and beliefs. I was posted on every Anti-Vax Mom group and was called the most disgusting names. It put me on the couch for days. It made an impact. That is the first time I allowed people to silence me and I pulled the candle and all social media posts.

Mistake #2 – The Fear Filter

The mental exhaustion and debilitating anxiety of living in a constant state of Fight, Flight or Freeze resulted in me not being able to make decisions. I was working 10-14 hours a day trying to manage it all. I was burning out. I wasn’t eating, wasn’t sleeping but I thought silently struggling was the goal. As a true Gen Xer, we don’t talk about feelings, we dig deeper and work harder. By 2022 I was so focused on running the business that I lost my passion and creativity. Every time I thought about or presented a slightly controversial candle to my team, it was compared to the anti-vax candle, as if that became the line to measure my voice to.

Gen X, Independence

For example: My oldest son has a touch of the ‘tism. My son came up with a label he thought was hilarious and I put it to print, for him. He was so excited to have his label in production! “Kiss My Assbergers” Well, you all can guess what happened. I was shared all Facebook groups, I was called an ableist and every other name you could imagine. I had no idea the diagnosis was named by a Dr. in the Nazi party. I found out really quick! 

I was destroyed online for my “Please don’t use Meth in my bathroom” candle even though that came from an actual and real story in my life. All of a sudden, I went viral again as a person making fun of those struggling with addiction.

addiction recovery

The list goes on…Don’t even get me started about my “Fuck Your Abortion Law” candle. Jesus Christ, that was a nightmare.

And so I started to filter in 2022. I released “Yarn Stash” thinking who could possibly be offended at us laughing  at ourselves hoarding craft supplies? I never saw it coming. I did a social media post about not being suspicious as I hauled in my bags from Michaels, so my husband didn’t see. That opened my marriage up to the internet to judge me on the fact I had to hide things from my husband. Which is not the case at all. That post came when I was in my Cricut phase and bought every possible accessory and supply I would need to make a $1000 T-shirt. Joe laughed his ass off as I brought in bag after bag of vinyl and special scissors.

Yarn Stash, knitting, crochet, crafts

I felt like I couldn’t win. “Sports Mom” got shared and the mom shame came at me in force. As a Sports Mom myself, my car was literally a portable locker room. I made a post about the smell of driving five teen boys home after a basketball travel tournament and the combo of AXE body spray and boy funk was unbearable. That got me cancelled from the moms who shamed me because I wasn’t appreciating the little moments with my children or that I was neglecting a possible medical condition.

sports, football, baseball, basketball, soccer

So, I stopped. In 2023, I stopped coming up with new labels.

Mistake #3- Limiting Labels

To be fair, every time I have been cancelled, the support for the label has always outshined the hate. There are more of us out there that get the humor in real life situations than there are haters, but I was tired. I had a close personal friend that suggested I just remove all my controversial labels and I listened. I wiped out everything, while at the same time wiping out my passion for speaking up.  I had mystery box and warehouse sales to get rid of the inventory and I was assured by so many people, this was the right thing to do. Every part of my being hated it. I was made fun of by my own employees because I was too emotionally attached to my labels and I allowed them to limit me to 50 labels. For 7 years I had been putting my feelings and experiences on candles and was basically forced to pick which of my feelings wouldn’t piss off the masses. The sales in July of 2023 instantly plummeted. I read the emails from people asking for labels and my employees assured me that customers would find something they liked. No the fuck they didn’t.

Mistake #4- Losing my Brand

Since day 1, I wanted a bold brand. I have said a million times I don’t want a curated rose-gold lifestyle blogger social media feed. I’ve never cared about the aesthetic; I wanted it real. Our lives are chaos, I don’t want the daily crazy hidden by with matching aesthetics. It’s not real. But again, in 2023 I allowed people to tell me my brand needed to calm down and smile more. I listened and changed my brand colors, fonts and style to be more modern and less chaotic. The loss of the font hurts the most. I chose the typewriter font as a way to honor Laura and her love of books and old typewriters. It’s gone. That tiny detail, which meant the most to me, is gone. Because I felt like everyone else knew better than me. If you look on my social media, all the fonts have zero character, and it makes me so sad. The engagement is also so low because I don’t think we are saying anything important anymore. That’s changing immediately. I don’t care if people don’t like teal and red together, I do!

Mistake #5 – Losing my Scents & Scents-ability

Not only did I eliminate most of my labels, we assigned a single scent to the labels online. We took away choice. No longer could my customers select their favorite scent and label combination, they were forced to select either a scent or a label they wanted. I had hired a Director Of operations who assured me this was a smart business move. I somehow let this person convince me that removing choice would not have an impact and people would still buy my candles because of the labels. I gave up arguing that I was more than a funny label, I made quality candles offered in unique scents. Again, I didn’t listen to my gut and the sales reflected it with yet another gut punch through the holiday season. This was our toughest year ever.

Women's Labor

Mistake #6 – Not Asking For Help Sooner

Last year was so bad emotionally, I put my business up for sale. I was done. I wanted to rage quit everything we built. I had two locations, too many people to manage and was too afraid to ask for the help I needed. However, when the offers came in I just couldn’t do it. Imagine me sitting across from a corporation that wanted to change the ‘image’ of Malicious Women Candle Co. I sat with another woman who thought she could turn me into a household name if she cleaned up the labels and put me in Walmart. The offers were healthy, but I couldn’t stop crying at what these people wanted to do to my passion. As any good partner does, Joe held me and asked me what I wanted to do. He said he’s never known me to quit anything in my life but he also wants me to find some peace. He left the decision completely up to me but was by my side while I made it.

I missed the beginning. I missed MWCC when we were small and a team of like-minded people with a voice that didn’t conform to the pressure society placed on us. I told Joe I want to ditch the giant warehouse. I want to sell off the stupid equipment that keeps breaking down and just get back to pouring candles. I want to take a management course and learn how to be an effective manager that can have difficult conversations without breaking theirs or my spirit. And most of all, I want to keep going.

So that is exactly what I did. I hired an Executive Leadership coach, read about 1000 books on every aspect of business I was struggling with. We finally moved into our smaller facility last month. It’s so good you guys!!! The whole vibe in the new space is so peaceful. We can all fit at the same lunch table and we even have pretty restrooms now. I went through all the boxes in storage and pulled out every label I was told to get rid of and James is helping me get them all back online this week. I brought back choice and now people can select their label and scent again. I’m not teeth grinding on Sunday nights and am excited at all the ideas swirling in my brain again.

For all the Malicious Misfits that have been with MWCC for a while or if you’re new and just discovering this crazy candle company, THANK YOU! I’m NOT going anywhere and I sure as hell couldn’t have gotten here without you. :) 

Stay Malicious, 

Lacie

I was also told I should not publish this…*Hits ‘Post Now*.

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Comments (137)

  • Lacie,

    You are and always will be a badass, rockstar, candle-pouring, “let’s-burn-this-shit-down” & just let it go, & keep the bad shit at bay, & build again lady, just like a Phoenix rising from all the ashes that the misunderstanding masses may force upon you, and I, for one, will ALWAYS be here for it, along with ALL my peeps I try to send your way!!! Just keep on being your sweet self & the rest of ‘em that don’t get it can just FUCK OFF!!! 💪

    Jill
  • Clean for 33+ years now, meth was my doc, and your bathroom meth one is one of the best ever – funny af and darkly relatable. Keep pouring wax in jars!

    Ted
  • I’ve been following you for years- (as a Canadian I think I was mostly waiting to see when you started offering shipping up here ;-D). I’m also self-employed/small biz owner and this resonates for so many reasons.

    I’m even MORE glad now that I can buy your stuff directly and support you and your company and all the amazing labels and messages you put out into the world. Screw the online hate, you’re out here doin’ great work! ❤️

    Josh
  • I’m so glad you didn’t give up!!!! This blog seriously spoke to me. Thank you!

    Rose
  • Thank you for writing this!! All the candles you mentioned got shit for are the ones I bought. Keep being real, because I identify with them and every one I’ve given as a gift are loved and appreciated.
    I love finding the candle that perfectly identifies what a friend is feeling or situation she is going through.
    Please don’t go away, what would I give as gifts??

    Jolynn
  • BRAVA!! Always LOVED your original format, that was the appeal! The salty labels, pick your own scent, etc. (Plz don’t do meth in my bathroom is an all time fav.)
    Best to you in all you do!! ONWARD!

    leyla
  • Thanks for not giving up, Lacie! Your candles are amazing and the labels make me laugh out loud when I read them. They have been some of the best gifts I’ve received and given!

    Tammy
  • I sell your candles in my small bookstore and i love them and your message. Most of my customers love them as well – sometimes it’s surprising and someone picks one up and I kind of brace myself and then they say ‘I love it’!!! Every great mom says the ‘F’ word is my all time favorite…..sums up my personal mantra!!! Please don’t quit, you do something fabulous and give a voice that I want to hear

    Melli Pappas
  • I have bought about 30 candles, wine stoppers, wine tumblers & tea light bags! Everyone I have given them to, absolutely laughed & Loved them! Please keep them coming! I am a bitch Against BULLSHIT & so are my Friends!,
    Peace & Love🥰👍

    Gail Taylor
  • I started buying from you because of the snark. Thank you for not giving up on your dream and putting words to my thoughts!

    Becky

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