SNOHOMISH — The flame is flickering.
Malicious Women Co., the candle company started by Lacie Marsh-Carroll in 2017, has rebounded from hard times before and is now dealing with inflation and copycats.
“I have the capacity to fill orders. I just don’t have the orders,” she said at the company’s warehouse in Snohomish.
Marsh-Carroll is trying new ways to survive by rebranding and expanding “gift-ability.”
No way in hell she plans to give up.
Like a Malicious candle slogan says: She is a “Boss Lady” infused with “Hustle & Caffeine.”
Marsh-Carroll went from melting wax in her Lake Stevens kitchen to running a 12,000 square foot production center and selling candles worldwide.
The company makes soy-based candles scented with custom fragrances and labeled with witticisms profane and relatable. Colorful language touches on topics such as parenthood, cancer, weddings, military and recovery.
“When I started, nobody dared put raw emotion or feeling or the real stuff on a candle,” Marsh-Carroll said.
Other sassy candle companies tried to cash in. That has hurt business as has the current economy.
Costs have shot up for shipping and supplies.
“Wax in 2019 was $75 a case. It’s $152 a case now. Everything is going up,” Marsh-Carroll said.
“We’re not able to pass that inflation to our customers by raising our prices because our customers are trying to afford eggs and bread, and this is a luxury. We have to focus hard on being that $20 affordable gift.”
Bumping up the price failed. “We raised it and pretty much sales stopped,” she said.
She at times questions why she gave up a job at Boeing to take the risk and work the long hours that come with owning a business. But she has no time or energy for regrets.
“Desperate times call for desperate measures,” Marsh-Carroll said. “I have 14 employees. This time last year I had 32. This place was bustling.”
Other than her son, Joe Kicinski, most of the workers are women. Her daughter, Kacie Kicinski, 28, a Navy veteran, is creative director and oversees social media and the retail store.
The company has 2,000 merchandise partners and sells other Malicious products such as bath bombs, wax melts and diffusers. She plans to relaunch a cosmetics line she developed before the pandemic in hopes of boosting the bottom line.
“To increase visibility, we started selling to third-party marketplaces that cater to wholesale businesses,” Marsh-Carroll said.
The candles began as a way for Marsh-Carroll, then a quality engineer at Boeing, to work through grief following the 2016 suicide of her best friend and the stress of family health issues. She melted wax in a Crock-Pot in her kitchen and put sassy labels on vintage jars for friends, who posted photos on Facebook. Other people wanted them.
After candlemaking took over her house, she opened a small shop in Lake Stevens.
She soon outgrew that space and set up a flagship retail store in Snohomish at 920 First St., where customers have the option of choosing a scent and label of their choice. More space was needed so she added a production center about a mile away, on Avenue D.
Since its founding, a portion of each candle sale is donated to The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
At the production facility, hundreds of candles in the making are laid out in neat rows on tables. It is an old-fashioned method, very hands-on. The candles are individually poured and the wicks are set by hand. Each candle is inspected to catch streaks, crinkles and globs.
An expensive labeling machine awaits repairs, so now that task is done by hand.
Scents include Cotton Candy and Pine, Frooty Loops, Lemon Drop Martini, Blueberry Cobbler, Bonfire and Rebel Rose.
New designs and scents are always being cooked up.
“One of our favorite phrases here is, ‘Let’s just try it.’ Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t,” Marsh-Carroll said.
Facebook & Instagram: @maliciouswomenco
Tiktoks: @Therealmaliciouswomenco @TheRetailiators
Andrea Brown: 425-339-3443; email@example.com; Twitter: @reporterbrown.
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