Pouring candles in an industrial storage unit, Mandy Mathis, creator of Salt & Shore, turned her interest into an industry through confidence in herself and in her brand.
Based in Savannah, Mandy’s quaint workspace embodies the charm and love that her candles emit. With the specific combination of ounces, melt points, and percentages that is involved in creating a single small batch of candles, what stands out the most is the fact that Mandy is completely self-made. From the logo to branding to placing the wick at the center of each glass container by hand before she pours the wax, every piece of Salt & Shore has been created by Mandy herself.
Fresh off her resignation from her corporate career, Mandy decided to pursue Salt & Shore full time—a decision that was not easy. “I had to rip the security blanket away to really dive into it and let my fear be my motivation to be successful,” Mandy said. The ability to channel her fear is something Mandy learned at the young age of 23. After losing her job, Mandy made an impulse decision to move from a small Southern town to Chicago. Selling everything she owned, Mandy flew to the big city with $400 in her pocket and no place to live, knowing no one. After applying to hundreds of jobs a day using a community computer at her local Starbucks, Mandy landed a job with one of the largest marketing agencies in Chicago. “I found that if I really wanted something, I had to do it with full confidence and belief in myself,” Mandy said. Her corporate success followed her back to the South a couple years later, but she found herself stuck in a position where her ingenuity was stunted.
In need of a creative hobby, Mandy enrolled in a candlemaking class to see what it would take to craft a long-lasting and enjoyable everyday candle. After realizing that she could make candles on her own, Mandy did some online research and purchased supplies to create a scent for her first batch of candles as a gift to her friends who were bridesmaids in a wedding. The candle, called Midnight Oaks, was an instant hit, gaining accolades and requests for more, but Mandy insisted that her candles were just a side project. It wasn’t until she received the same response for the scent of her second batch of candles, Splendid Savannah, that she realized her hobby could become a full-time business.
With encouragement from her friends and family, Mandy started Salt & Shore with no investors, no loans, and no credit cards. From the ground up, she built her business, teaching herself everything from how to get a business license to how to use Adobe to build her own website. After a full day’s work, Mandy spent weekends and nights hand-pouring beautifully scented candles. Locally sourced and eco-friendly, Mandy’s products contain no toxins, no carcinogens, and no pollutants. Her scents, inspired by nostalgia, first came by accident and playing around with natural oils. As Mandy says, “I want the candle lines to represent these great memories that you can light every day and can relax you.”
With a full-time job and her candle business growing by the day, Mandy felt like she was sitting on the fence between pursuing her dream full time or continuing to be stressed out and burning at both ends. That’s when Palmetto Bluff called, asking Mandy to help create a candle for their Palmetto Bluff signature scent “Maritime Forest.” With oil curated by Palmetto Bluff from One Love Organics’ Suzanne LeRoux, Mandy made a test batch to see how the oil would take in the candle. “It was beautiful,” Mandy said, stating that the curing process was the easiest she had seen in a long time with a scent that captures you before you even have the candle lit. When Mandy brought in the tester and Palmetto Bluff decided to order a large batch of her product, she confessed that after the meeting she got in the car and started crying. “Every time I’ve turned around, I’ve been given the opportunity to work with amazing people and contribute to great products. This was my sign and the moment I knew that this was what I am supposed to do.” The following Monday, Mandy resigned from her 9-to-5 job, went to her workspace, and started pouring the Maritime Forest candles for Palmetto Bluff.
Having complete control and navigating the future of Salt & Shore is a little scary to Mandy, but all the while extremely exciting. Alongside her three candle lines, Mandy also expanded her website to include jewelry, accessories, home goods, and interiors. With all of her products, Mandy is dedicated to making her brand one that gives back to the community and values the importance of supporting women. Her jewelry line is handcrafted by women escaping human trafficking with 100 percent of the proceeds benefiting International Sanctuary, a non-profit that provides care and counseling to these young women. Additionally, Salt & Shore has a partnership with the Save the Manatee Club, where one dollar from every Sweetgrass candle purchase goes directly toward preserving the future of manatees.
With a desire to expand her brand along the Southeast, Mandy plans to build her company into something big. The future of Salt & Shore is just a matter of when, which is an exciting part for Mandy. Engaged to be married next year, Mandy’s personal life and career have been filled with blessings that signal the direction she is headed is where she is meant to be. Whether it be creating diffusers or a new candle line, Mandy knows that with a love and confidence in her product, inspiration can be found (and smelled) anywhere.
Written by Ellie O’Donoghue
Photography by Kelli Boyd