Sarah Clifford Owen of The Worthington Collection: The Power of Flexibility; How I Was Able To Pivot To A New Exciting Opportunity Because Of The Pandemic
An Interview With Karina Michel Feld
Set measurable goals and milestones with timeframes to meet them before you get started. I jumped right in and started the process of forming my company and I got to the point where I felt that I was being pulled in multiple directions at once and I was trying to accomplish too many things at the same time. When I finally sat down and clearly defined my goals for 6 months, 1 year, 2 years, etc. I was able to focus and accomplish so much more than I did prior to defining my business goals and milestones.
The COVID19 pandemic has disrupted all of our lives. But sometimes disruptions can be times of opportunity. Many people’s livelihoods have been hurt by the pandemic. But some saw this as an opportune time to take their lives in a new direction.
As a part of this series called “How I Was Able To Pivot To A New Exciting Opportunity Because Of The Pandemic”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Sarah Clifford Owen.
Sarah Clifford Owen is a Mom, Entrepreneur and Candle Maker. She is the Founder and CEO of The Worthington Collection, a luxury candle brand known for their odor eliminating candles.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we start, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?
I was born in Maryland and moved to Kingston, Jamaica when I was nine years old. I remained there until I moved to Florida for college. My parents owned a funeral home and they instilled the value of entrepreneurship in me at a very young age. I always knew I wanted to become a business owner like my parents, but I definitely didn’t want to own a funeral home! While it took some time for me to discover my passion for candle making and develop that passion into a business, I never forgot the lessons learned that my parents shared with me as successful business owners, and now many years later, I am able to incorporate those valuable lessons into my own business.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“An awakened imagination works with a purpose. It creates and conserves the desirable, and transforms or destroys the undesirable” — Neville Goddard
I am a firm believer that we can use our imagination, thoughts and feelings to create what we desire. This quote always reminds me that if I can imagine it and believe it then I can achieve it. I always set the bar high and dream big. Whenever doubt starts to creep in, I will remind myself of this quote and focus my imagination on the vision I have for my company.
Is there a particular book, podcast, or film that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
The movie The Secret that is based on the book with the same name by Rhonda Byrne. I was first introduced to this movie my sophomore year of college by a friend. I previously shared with her that I was not feeling very confident about my future and I was struggling to define my career goals. She encouraged me to watch this movie and it transformed my way of thinking forever. I am now always conscious of any negative thoughts I may have so I can change my thoughts and my mood. This has helped me in every aspect of my personal and professional life and particularly throughout the pandemic.
The Secret lead me to other similar works such as the teachings of Neville Goddard, who I quoted earlier. During the pandemic, I frequently listened to his audiobooks and others from similar authors, to keep my mood elevated and my thoughts positive.
Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. Can you tell our readers about your career experience before the Pandemic began?
I was in Healthcare Project Management for over 10 years before the pandemic began. I worked with clients to determine the best benefit solutions for their employees and managed the projects to implement those benefits. I worked from home for six years prior to the pandemic so I did not have to transition from an office setting. I did however travel often to visit clients and for business meetings which all came to a halt once the Pandemic began.
What did you do to pivot as a result of the Pandemic?
My project management work did not slow down during the pandemic, but like everyone else, I was not able to travel or do some of the things I enjoyed doing with my husband or my friends to unwind. Instead, I did a lot of cooking for the family and focused on self-care. It was also during this time that the idea for my business came to mind, so I used the time to research, plan and launch my company.
Can you tell us about the specific “Aha moment” that gave you the idea to start this new path?
I mentioned earlier that I was doing a lot of cooking and this is what actually lead me to my “Aha” moment! I subscribed to an ingredient and recipe delivery service during the pandemic and I was using a lot of new spices and seasonings that smell great while you’re cooking and eating, but not so much the next morning when the scent of garlic and curry were still lingering through the house. I also started purchasing a lot of scented candles to hopefully get rid of the cooking smells, but I found that these were only masking the smells while they were lit, and once the flame was out, the smell of whatever I cooked returned. I even purchased some $100 candles thinking those would do the trick but to no avail. So, one day I said to myself, “I should learn how to make my own candles” and that lead me to research candle making.
I was immediately intrigued by the articles and videos that I was finding about the candle making process and industry as a whole and I knew that this was the business that I wanted to pursue. I decided to create a luxury candle brand with beautiful vessels and perfume quality fragrances that are odor eliminating, non-toxic and safe for the environment. The research, planning and development process took a little over a year before The Worthington Collection was born.
How are things going with this new initiative?
We are newly launched, and the response has been amazing! The hard work that was put in to get the company off the ground has clearly worked which I am truly grateful for. So far, the company is on track to meet the goals I established for my first year of business.
Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
My husband, Matthew. He has been so supportive of all my dreams and has gone above and beyond with caring for our 2-year-old son which allowed me to really focus on getting the company up and running. I couldn’t have done any of this without him.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started in this new direction?
When my very first shipment of glass candle vessels arrived, an entire pallet of them fell from the truck as they were being unloaded. As a Project Manager, I thought I had planned for every possible risk but clearly, I had not planned for that one. Fortunately, the damage was minimal and covered by insurance. This mishap made me realize that I knew nothing about the freight and delivery industry. I did research on what equipment should have been used to remove the freight from the truck and I know now to inquire ahead of time so the delivery trucks will be properly equipped.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started leading my organization” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- Set measurable goals and milestones with timeframes to meet them before you get started. I jumped right in and started the process of forming my company and I got to the point where I felt that I was being pulled in multiple directions at once and I was trying to accomplish too many things at the same time. When I finally sat down and clearly defined my goals for 6 months, 1 year, 2 years, etc. I was able to focus and accomplish so much more than I did prior to defining my business goals and milestones.
- When ordering items from overseas, it’s important to factor in delays in your timeline and start the ordering process as early as possible. You also need to be aware of any holidays the supplier’s country may have that will impact production times. Once your items arrive, there could also be customs clearance delays as well. So, all of these scenarios should be factored into your timeline to ensure that you receive your items on time.
- Don’t be afraid to outsource tasks to experts as needed. When I started, I tried to take it all on, the accounting, figuring out insurance, contracts, etc. I quickly realized that for my business these were tasks best left to the experts and I would have saved a lot of time in the beginning if I had outsourced them earlier.
- There are several others with similar businesses who formed discussion boards to share ideas, tips and tricks etc. When I started my candle making journey, I did extensive research on the process before I began but I still made lot of mistakes along the way. The entire process seemed overwhelming and complicated and I even questioned whether this was the right business for me to pursue. As I was searching for answers to some of the questions I had, I found a dedicated Facebook group where people share ideas and knowledge and I was able to find the answers to all of my questions as well as learn from others who have been in the industry for several years.
- Move in silence. Not everyone will be optimistic and encouraging when you share your business ideas. Sometimes they will cast their doubts and fears on you which can be very discouraging. When I first had the idea to create a luxury candle line, I shared this idea with a family member. Her immediate response was “there are too many candles on the market, you will have a hard time selling yours.” These were definitely discouraging words to hear, and for a brief moment I started doubting that I would be successful in my endeavors. I chose to push forward and no longer share any of my business plans with anyone unless I am absolutely certain that they will be excited for me and encouraging.
So many of us have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. Can you share the strategies that you have used to optimize your mental wellness during this stressful period?
While I would love to stay away from watching or listening to the news, I do need to be aware of current events. Some of the stories being reported can cause me anxiety at times but when I start to feel that way, I will switch gears and listen to an audiobook or listen to some music that will elevate my mood. I also immediately hit the dislike button for any articles that show on my news feed that I don’t find to be positive and uplifting. That helps to prevent similar stories from appearing in my news feed in the future.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?
I would inspire a movement to end homelessness and provide the tools and services needed to help others to get back on their feet. While I don’t have the answers to solve this issue, I know there are a lot of brilliant minds that could come together with ideas and solutions.
Is there a person in the world whom you would love to have lunch with, and why? Maybe we can tag them and see what happens!
J. K. Rowling. She is the author of the Harry Potter series which are my favorite movies. I have watched each movie more than I can count and once in a blue moon when I can have a lazy Sunday, I will binge watch the entire series of movies. I would love to have lunch with her and find out what inspired her to create the Harry Potter series and what sparks her creativity.
How can our readers follow you online?
Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!