George and I met a few years ago, though I can’t tell you the years it’s been. It was during the times I was still selling my own artwork at markets and festivals. And from personal experience of his Candles – they are one of the best I’ve used. Like I am sad that I’ve burned them all.

“Put off for one day, and ten days will pass.”  

Korean Proverb

Tell us about yourself and what you do

I am a former engineer, or as I was once told a “recovering engineer” and I aspired to be a Physicist for much of my life.  I studied both engineering and Physics when I went back to school the second time as what is known as an NTA (non-traditional aged) adult.  I graduated cum laude from Lord Fairfax Community College in Middletown VA, which is the area I am originally from, Winchester VA. I came to Charlottesville to study Physics at the University and ultimately never left.  I worked as a bartender through much of school, but also as an engineer also to make my way and learn all I could. I met my wife here while bartending and well I have been here ever since!

I became a stay home dad and needed something to do with my creative side and my skills.  My craft / occupation of chandler – candlemaker was started somewhat as a joke! We had sold our home and we were staying with my parents until we decided what to buy or build.  My brother had an extended apartment at one end of the home, and I was chatting with him one evening when he was making candles(or attempting to be a better way to put it.)

I was kidding with him and he gave me some wax and materials, and I proceeded to do every possible wrong thing I could to make a “coffee” candle.  Within a few weeks, he was in an event as a crafter that ultimately led to him forming his own little business. Later he needed help, I joined him, and we learned, and he taught me some along the way. After about three years I went out on my own and decided on a more natural product with a different design and formed my own company after he desired to take a different route.  I have been making candles for myself in unique designs and fragrance combinations since 2008.

How does your work create an impact in the world?

I would like to think that my candles create an environment that is often a moment of calm and joy for those who either buy them or receive them as gifts.  Several of my unique fragrance combinations are calming in design and do that incredibly well. Does my work save the world or create some monument? No, not directly.  Maybe it inspires or helps someone do that. As they say, each ripple has its effect in the pond.

Was there a turning point in your life that made you seek out inspiration and self-growth learning opportunities?

UHM…  when I was born!  I have been a curious person my whole life and as such I constantly am in a state of learning.  I think if I wasn’t learning or trying to learn or do something, I would probably just go nuts.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

Excellent question!  I never know. For my scent combination, it may be, an idea a thought!  For my equipment, it is based upon need, of course. I design and build much of my own equipment as well.

Along that same lines, how do I fulfill that inspiration sometimes, often?  A nap! I often will take a nap or simply lay down and map out the problem in my closed eyes to resolve the issue and solve the problem!

What is your favorite source of inspiration?

I have found a great deal of inspiration in quotes.  Sadly this is something that is often stolen and misused today on the web.  Finding the source today is often not true! For example, “Four score and seven years ago…” is of course by none other than Jules Verne not Lincoln – HA!

What was or is the biggest struggle you’ve faced embracing who you are?

One issue that has been a challenge for me is … being a male in a predominantly female industry. In addition, a big guy for me these factors make it difficult to be taken seriously or at all sometimes.  The artisan market is very much a home/cottage industry and that is awesome! It is an unknown industry meaning they do not or are unsure how big it truly is.  It is predominantly Women and some children in the industry, and not so many males.

For me being a big male it is the tables turned and while society expects me to get all the big breaks more often doors close for me that ironically you would think would be open.  I have learned and live by — “Que sera sera” what shall be shall be.

Am I bitter, no I understand and applaud anyone and everyone for getting out there and getting it the job done! I just in life have never liked for anyone human to be faced with a double-edged sword and our life and history is filled with them.

How do you stay inspired to keep going in your journey?

“Fall seven times, stand up eight.”          

Japanese Proverb  

QUOTES!  I like quotes and they are from people sometimes groups like proverbs and even books.  They speak to me somehow that somewhere someone met a similar challenge and while they got smacked in the face they made it through.  I can as well.

What emotional challenges have you faced?

I am bipolar type II — I have had to learn to deal with that.  I call it the “blessed-curse” it can be a curse and has its moments.  Yet it is also a blessing of creativity and brilliance. I have it I can either embrace it or let it drag me down, my choice!

What would be your top tips for :

●       Finding inspiration –   Find what works for you and makes you comfortable and happy!

●       Keeping inspired – Learn to be afraid!  And then enjoy it! Inspiration can be scary as hell!  It may take you places that may seem impossible and that is good real good.  Cause if you can imagine it then it is inside of you or you would not have even been able to conceive it!  When that fear hits map out what made you afraid and then let it inspire you!

●       Raising your spirit – I never know but sometimes it is the simplest of things.  I am rather religious but in a very different way. I can see a deer and know that is the big guy ( gal if you like)  I can just pop on the radio and hear the song that is on at the moment and it may make me feel like it was there at that moment for a reason.  Just a flower or a sunset. Oddly I am not super big on lighting candles! I enjoy the creation more than the burning! If I need a moment to calm, I light one and focus on the flame and the symmetry and the components.

      Staying positive – A nap is always good as a lack of sleep will drag me down.  Yet also vision of the future, whether it is short term of even longer. When I have an “eye on the prize” I can focus on that and help me to drive forward.

●       Anything else you have found invaluable – Number one self-talk.  Just don’t… don’t go there.  The worst enemy You have is you!  I am as guilty as anyone and I battel me as much as anyone.  Stop the bad juju of self-talking yourself into a bad position.

What advice would you like to give someone when it comes to a) life and/or b) business

Don’t tell anyone!  When you are planning to start your business or decide on to make the leap.  Unless you truly really must don’t tell anyone! I say this because many people do not want to see you outside of the comfort of the present scenario.  If makes them uncomfortable and people will talk you out of that and belittle your endeavors.

Remembering your hardest struggle what was the lesson? What is your advice?

It has taken me a long time to learn this and it will take you your own time to come to terms with it as well whomever you may be.  Learn to own it! Whatever your issue, whatever is the crux of dilemma for you own it. It is yours and that is that. Heck there may be some way it can become an advantage!  There is a reason you have that “disadvantage” turn it around and own it and when you do nothing is a problem for you anymore.

If you are in business or write a blog for yourself what made you take the leap?

Sick and tired of being tired! I wanted to do more.

What motivated and inspired you to start your own business?

I felt that I wanted to create something so unique that it was all its own.  So, I did!

Tell us about your business.

Fort Blenheim Candles was established in the spring of 2008.  I am the chandler /owner and I create handmade, hand poured octagon pillars of renewable feather palm wax candles with unique fragrance combinations.  I create the scents to be unique to my company and inspire a memory or thought for others. The candles are clean burning and long lasting while also being easy to maintain.  You simply light them put them on a candle plate and enjoy! I have to give credit where credit is due for my wife and sometimes the children even jump in to assist in the wrapping and labeling of the candles to bring the beautiful finished products to life!

What were the first few steps you took to get your business up and running?

Originally, we were not in our present location so permits were required.  I needed a multitude of the octagon molds I use, and I had to design the equipment and either build it or have some if it custom built for me.

How do you keep motivated through difficult times? – take a nap.  Look at my children. Get a cup of coffee and remember that Goonies never say die!

If you’re not in business – would you like to start one and what would you like to be doing?

Where can people buy your candles?

What social media outlets do you use? List them below.

twitter – @FortBlenheim

Petra Monaco

Petra Monaco

The Rebels Den

Petra Monaco is a published author, coach, mom and breaks the status quo for fun. As a foster kid, she knows the challenges and excuses people make as she rewrote her own story and then worked her way through to become a Master's level therapist. However, after watching her son fight for his life due to a rare genetic disorder and three liver transplants, she now coaches creatives and multi-passionates to stop waiting for “one day” and the “perfect moments’. Petra helps you dive deeply into the heart of things in order to discover your next steps, inspires you to set up your own personal framework so you can break free from fear, doubt, and overwhelm so you can start creating the life you want now. Petra uses her personal story to inspire and motivate people into doing the work they need to do to create change because she believes that your excuses are just avoidance. You can have the cake and eat it too if you're willing to show up for it!
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