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‘Beautiful community’

Commerce graduate pursues small business during – and after – degree

special feature: Class of 2020

Part of a special feature celebrating and recognizing the Class of 2020 at Memorial.

By Susan White

Artisan. Entrepreneur. University graduate.

Candice Humphries is all of these and more as the owner of Salt Water Bath Bombs and a spring graduate of the bachelor of commerce (co-operative) program at the Faculty of Business Administration.

“I’ve always had an appreciation for the handmade community,” she said. “For as long as I can remember, I’ve always looked forward to attending markets and craft fairs as a consumer. When I decided to start a business, it just felt like the perfect fit for me.”

‘Enormous challenge’

The Gander native decided to try creating her own bath bombs at home.

In 2017, while still in her second year of studies at Memorial, she launched her online business.

Some of Candice Humphries’ handmade products.
Photo: Submitted

Her product line has since expanded beyond bath bombs to include soaps, scrubs, masks and lotions, all of which is still made by hand.

This past January, the business was incorporated.

Ms. Humphries plans to open a physical location and hire her first employees once normal business is permitted to resume following the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Finding a balance was hard and some days I couldn’t find it.” — Candice Humphries

But the dual path of entrepreneurship and academic studies hasn’t been easy. Ms. Humphries says it’s been an enormous challenge to get to this point in her business.

“It’s very hard to run a business while in university, there’s no doubt about it,” she said. “When I was studying, I felt like I should be working and when I was working, I felt like I should be studying. Finding a balance was hard and some days I couldn’t find it.”

Ms. Humphries says the growth of her business was helped by her professors as well as the Memorial Centre for Entrepreneurship, where she did an entrepreneurial work term in 2018.

While at Memorial, she also completed an exchange semester at Harlow Campus in the U.K. and another work term at BDO Canada.

“To get through it, you have to really want both [a degree and a business],” she said. “I had several people tell me over the years that I could just quit school and keep working on my business because it was successful. But to me, having a degree is important.”

Supportive community

The key to getting to this point, she says, has been support: From customers who stayed loyal while business operations were limited while she studied abroad to family members who help out during peak seasons.

“For any other entrepreneur working through an undergrad . . . you need people there who can help you, motivate you and remind you that you’re doing a good job. Without the support system I have, I know my business wouldn’t be where it is today.”

Candice Humphries in her element at a craft fair.
Photo: Submitted

Ms. Humphries has built a community around her products. The importance of community has become even more apparent during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I’ve never been busier, and I think that it’s because people understand the importance of supporting local during times like this. Newfoundland and Labrador has a beautiful community of handmade artisans that offer incredible products, and I think people realize that and don’t want to lose it. So they opt to support local to ensure those businesses are able to sustain themselves.

“I feel lucky that I found what I’m passionate about at the age of 24, and that there is a community of people out there who want what I have to offer, which allows me to continue pursuing this dream,” she added. “Sometimes I stop in my tracks and just think about how truly lucky I am to wake up in the mornings, excited to go to work.”

Redefining business success

Ms. Humphries plans to honour that sense of community while working on her business after graduation, including one day hiring a work-term student from the business faculty.

“There’s a common perception that a business needs to be able to scale into a multimillion dollar business . . but that’s not true and that’s not what I’m going for,” she said. “I love the small business community and being personally involved in day-to-day activities and getting to know my customers first hand.

“I believe that you can live a very happy life and own a successful small business that provides you with financial independence and the ability to provide jobs to others, which is what I intend to do for the rest of my career.”

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