Students’ candle business sees growth through Summer Founders program


This summer, Lauer took part in the Inventing the Penn State Founders Summer Programwhich offers students $15,000 to work full-time at Happy Valley LaunchBox powered by PNC Bank about their idea for a startup, social good, or nonprofit over the summer. She said she really enjoyed being around like-minded people and being part of the entrepreneur community throughout the program.

“One of the most important things I learned through Summer Founders was how to really listen to my customers and not underestimate myself and my products,” Lauer said. “I had this preconception that no one would pay $25 for a candle, but there was a woman in California who paid $35 for a candle because of shipping, and then it happened again. You need to make sure you value yourself.

Lauer said Clove and Sprig have seen unexpected growth this summer, when candles aren’t usually in season, so she really wants to be prepared and facilitate that growth even more this fall and winter.

“What I love about working with Kelsey is that she was always dedicated to quality no matter where she was manufacturing,” said Ben Nason, idea catalyst at Happy Valley LaunchBox. “Between trying to maintain temperatures, standardizing flavors and managing unstable ingredients, it takes exceptional time and energy to keep quality high. artisanal soul” of the product.

Lauer said his most recent accomplishment was putting his candles in Beautiful Mercantile in Bellefonte, a collective market where many local businesses sell their products.

Clove and Sprig candles can also be found at My Cafe Buzz at Bellefonte, Rumors Salon at York, The Garden at Center Hall, Wisconsin at State College, and through its website.

“If you’re a college student working on building a startup, don’t let other people’s accomplishments trump your own,” Lauer said. “It was hard for me, especially this summer, to take this chance and say I’m going to try something new on my own, when my friends and roommates got internships and earned regular salaries. It can be hard to appreciate your own accomplishments, and I think if it’s something you really want to do, going out and doing it is an accomplishment that shouldn’t be minimized.

If you are a Penn State student who wants to spend the summer working on your own business, applications for the next cohort of the Summers Founders Program will open in the spring of 2023 through the program website.

About Summer Founders

The Summer Founders Program is a flagship program of the Invent Penn State initiative and is offered in partnership with Happy Valley LaunchBox powered by PNC Bank. Seed funding is made possible through donations from successful alumni entrepreneurs interested in supporting new student ventures. To learn more about supporting Penn State student startups through a philanthropic gift, contact Heather Winfield, Director of Strategic Initiatives for University Development, at [email protected]


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