Women of Manitoba: Coal & Canary

We have been overwhelmed by your response to our Women of Manitoba blog series! It is very exciting for us to showcase women entrepreneurs and share their stories! Today we’re featuring the one and only, Coal and Canary. If you haven’t lit one of their candles yet, add that to your ‘autumn to-do’ list. The wooden wick makes the coziest crackling sound! Enjoy!


Tell us about your business, what do you do? 

Amanda: I co-own Coal and Canary Candle Company with my partner Tom Jansen. We produce quality, hand-made candles catered toward the hip and young professional. They reflect our vibrant personalities, commitment to strong design and appreciation for impeccable craftsmanship. Our goal is to provide design conscious individuals with a product that not only smells amazing but looks just as good too.

Why are you in business? What led you to do what you now do?

Amanda: I actually stumbled into business as it started out as an excuse to hang out more often with my best friend! Tom and I have been friends for 8 years and I was working full time as a graphic designer and he was in nursing school full time. Both of us were so busy and we were looking for a way to spend more time together. Tom had spent some time mastering the art of candle making as a hobby but didn’t have the graphic design and marketing background that I had, so he asked if I wanted to team up with him and start a candle company for fun.

We got together once a week over a glass of wine, I would do the branding, web design and product packaging while he created the physical product. Once we started posting photos of our candles on social media, we were contacted by retailers wanting to sell them. That’s when things started to become more serious and we realized we didn’t have a hobby on our hands anymore, but a business!

Did you always want to go into business/be your own boss?

Amanda: No – but I LOVE it!! Coal and Canary started as a hobby and was never meant to become a full time, international business. I like working for other companies and never thought I’d be my own boss one day, but it was a happy accident that I couldn’t be more grateful for!


What has been your most satisfying moment in business?

Amanda: The most obvious moment was having our product chosen as the home decor item in both the GRAMMY and Academy Award gift bags 3 months into starting our company. It taught me that you can do anything if you try hard enough. There have been so many other amazing moments that have happened to us in the last year and half that we’ve been in business as well, but all of them stem from the same thing, being able to create your own opportunities which was something that I didn’t have the freedom to do while working for other companies. This has definitely been the most satisfying part of owning my own business!

What has been the most challenging part of owning and running a business so far?

Amanda: Learning how to run a business from the ground up while not having any business education or background. Also, learning how to scale up production to keep up with supply and demand. Both have been challenging, but we take it day by day. We also have some incredible mentors and a business strategist who have been incredible assets to helping us grow.

What is something you wish you knew before going into business that you’ve since learned from experience?

Amanda: How busy I’d constantly be and how many different hats I’d wear on any given day!

Who is your greatest inspiration?

Amanda: Neri Oxman. Smart, ambitious and constantly pushing the envelope on what’s possible.


To what do you most attribute your success? What would you say are the five key elements for starting and running a successful business?

1) Willingness to think outside the box
2)Not being afraid to pursue opportunities that may seem out of reach
3) Making every decision from the point of view of the “Coal and Canary girl”
4) Always being true and consistent with our brand
5) Having FUN and being easily relatable with our audience

What was the best piece of business advice you ever received?

Amanda: Let the experts be YOUR experts!

In one word, characterize your life as an entrepreneur.

Amanda: Thrilling.