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Meet Luminary Member, Ava Ghiotti


Tell us a bit about yourself! How did you get started with your current career path/business journey?

I am the founder and creative designer behind bespoke candle brand Merchants of Beauty. I aim to make experiences tangible through a creative line of candles that each tells its own multi-sensory story. Through its distinct scent, color, and design, each candle captures the essence of moments and memories.

After completing my film degree, a native New Yorker, I set off for Los Angeles where I was drawn to work on makeup and events in the entertainment industry, turning ideas into experiences. I returned to NYC to head up creative development for a bridal product, and fell in love with product manufacturing and design.

Merchants of Beauty is the culmination of my experiences. Through candles, I am creating a way to reimagine storytelling. My debut collection is inspired by the essence of NYC, capturing the heartbeat of the city with modern, chic, and playful designs like “Burns Like a Bitch” and “4am NYC.”

With a keen attention to detail, I carefully select the company’s sourcing partners and ingredients: fine fragrance oils, free of sulfates, parabens, and phthalates, and a creamy natural wax blend of soy and coconut. Each candle is hand-poured in artisanal French glass, hand-painted, and hand screened, with a rich color palette.

Inspired by the places I have been and experiences I have had, it is my hope these candles provide an energetic spark to elevate your mood and inspire your next great adventure.

How are you overcoming challenges during the pandemic as a business owner?

What a time to be a small business owner! Merchants of Beauty was scheduled to launch in April 2020 with a focus on wholesale and partnership relationships. In the wake of a global pandemic and with the economy coming to halt, the reality of uncertainty for small business began to sink in very quickly.

I chose to pivot the business to direct to consumer sales and really work on bringing our messaging to the forefront. Merchants of Beauty candles are designed to inspire mood and uplift environment. I began to focus on reaching our customers on social media and bringing content to that community. With all of us home for the foreseeable future, I wanted to curate content that would support uplifting our home environments. Our content segments covered everything from creating rituals with CBD and candles featuring Calm Better Days, to curating custom cocktails with bespoke gin brand Pomp & Whimsey.

Additionally, we have built partnership relationships with other brands who have taken the pandemic on, dedicated to bringing meaningful intentional brands to consumers. We currently have a partnership with SHOWFIELDS in the heart of New York City’s Soho and will be on display in store for the holiday season. We are also part of the well-social brand umbrella with a focus on bringing together brands that are good for people and the planet.

A veteran business owner, with a patent under her belt, the best advice my mother ever gave me about being a business owner was that my number one job would be solving problems. It was the truest advice I have ever received; the pandemic is just one of the challenges myself and other business owners will face. Everyday often brings another set of challenges to overcome and problems to solve. The non-glamour side of being your own boss is that when the shit hits the fan, you’re the one who has to figure it out and get it cleaned up. The best advice I can pass forward to anyone starting a business and facing challenges is to make sure you have mentorship in place and business advisors that understand your visions. But above all, stay connected to knowing your WHY; it is the most powerful tool you possess, and that coupled with the resilience to succeed will help you overcome any challenge.

What behavior or personality trait do you most attribute your success to, and why?

I would have to say resilience and tenacity. The opportunity to build a small business from scratch has afforded me the chance to shift my perspectives around challenges. There is a certain resiliency that you build up as you slowly realize that creative problem solving will become a skill that you will lean into so frequently. Small businesses face a number of challenges before even launching and the tenacity to stand strong with your vision in the face of every “no” that you will hear builds the strength to keep moving steadfast and forward. Know your why and stay connected to it and don’t forget to have fun along the way!

What’s a mistake you made early on in your career, and what did you learn from it?

Pricing. Early on, I did not understand the pricing structure of wholesale and retail and how that needed to be reflected in my cost and profit margins. I learned that you have to understand where you want to be positioned in the market and to determine what price points customers were willing to pay. From there I began to understand how margins play a huge roll and often impact other areas of business from shipping and packaging materials, to sustaining large enough margins to include samples. I now have a solid understanding of what out max cost can be when designing new collections and limited offerings.

What’s one professional skill you’re currently working on?

Boxing … yes, I realize it is not the most conventional professional skill. I choose to start working with a boxing coach this Fall to focus on self-discipline. When I explained to my boxing coach why I wanted to work together I said that the focus and self-discipline it takes to box will help me professionally to remain focused and fluid as a business owner. One of the main rules of boxes is to be fluid, if you get stiff and locked into your stance, you can't navigate what’s coming at you with ease. As a business owner I have learned that being flexible and adaptable are skills that help drive business.

In what ways are you taking care of your personal well being and what are your #selfcare tips?

I recently read the book The 5am Club by Robin Sharma and it really changed my thoughts around taking time and space for myself in the morning. I am not quite ready to get up at 5am yet, I still like to stay up past my bedtime binge watching Netflix ha! Since reading I have really thought about the quiet solitude of the morning and taking time to support myself before my day starts. I have started waking up at 6:15am, during this time I listen to an audiobook and also meditate, followed by a 7am workout and 15 minute journaling session. My number one #selfcare tip would be, just as much as everything else requires your attention, you require it the most, don’t neglect making time for yourself a priority, it will increase your happiness and productivity!

How are you inviting others to take a seat at the table #virtually?

Merchants of Beauty is all about inspiring mood and uplifting environment. I love using candles as a vehicles to create meaningful experiences and transport through scent, setting your story in motion. Merchants of Beauty is inviting others to take a seat at the table virtually through curated IG LIVE content. Over the last several months, I have really focused on how to create content for the Merchants of Beauty community that was inspiring and uplifting. Additionally, through blog and podcast features I continue to share my journey as a small business owner in the manufacturing space and offer to connect with anyone I can help that is starting out and facing a business challenges.

What impact has Luminary made in your career? eg: Business Generated, Revenue, New Clients, Career Connections, Advancement Opportunities 

Luminary has been such an amazing space to be apart of as a member. I have connecting with community and found mentorship and support through this inspiring network of business owners and professionals. Luminary's effort to support and foster growth among its members has had a lasting positive impact on myself as an individual and the growth of my brand. I am proud to be part of such an inclusive and supportive community.