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Amanda Buhse, CEO & Chief Creative Officer, Coal and Canary

Amanda Buhse: Spreading Smiles & Lighting Up People’s Life

In uncertain ways of business, one has to be ready for spontaneous challenges. If one can mold these challenges and utilize them as a ladder to climb up to the next level, one can bring a disruptive change with an innovative approach in their business niche. Following the zeal from graphic designing to lead a passion project that turned into a renowned brand in the hand-poured candle industry is Amanda Buhse. An entrepreneur who has held multiple titles in her journey, proving herself time and time with her leadership and commitment, she has gained valuable recognition as one of the most successful businesswomen in Canada.
As the CEO and Chief Creative Officer of Coal and Canary, Amanda harnesses the power of creativity to enhance every aspect of the business. Her dedicated efforts and focused engagement have resulted in the fruition of Coal and Canary spreading its wings through its products in the household.
Coal and Canary creates hand-poured luxury wood wick candles for every occasion and every day. Its candles are made with the highest quality vegan soy and vegetable wax blend and true to scent fragrance oils. All of its candles feature a cozy, crackling wooden wick.
Dive into the exhilarating story of Amanda and her experiences!
Placing the Wick
Amanda’s professional journey began as a graphic designer, and later she worked as a marketing executive for large and small companies in retail, fashion, and agency environments. She gained diverse experiences, which gave her a global perspective on leading a brand, business, and team. Without formal business education, Amanda used her work experiences to learn from the ground up and started her passion project, which became the Coal and Canary that everyone knows today!
Since Coal and Canary’s initiation, Amanda faced the challenge of keeping up with a rapidly growing hobbyturned-business, with no financial assistance other than the $40 each from her and her previous business partner. Learning to delegate tasks and not take on too much has been another difficult challenge for Amanda. She says, “When the company began, I was responsible for all marketing efforts and business development, and I never expected to one day have employees to help take on those areas of the business with me! It’s been sometimes challenging to let go and hand over full control to my trusted employees.”
Mission and Vision
Since its initiation in 2014, the mission at Coal and Canary has been to make people smile. Amanda mentions there weren’t many hand-poured candles with any story or personality behind them, and she wanted Coal and Canary to be more than just a candle on a shelf.
It’s very important for the brand to express who it is and pull back the curtain behind Coal and Canary to show its customers. The brand’s goal is to make all of its customers feel like their best friends, and Amanda feels that this approach isn’t currently the standard in the hand-poured candle industry- and it should be.
Amanda expresses that Coal and Canary love making candles but also love making friends! The company is in the business of fun first and happens to make deliciously scented candles second. Coal and Canary’s mission statement is as follows: Make candles. Have a kick-ass time. Sissy that walk. Have hustle. Care about the details. Play nice with others. Be creative. Pop bottles. Be sassy. Enjoy the ride.
Becoming Beloved
Coal and Canary’s innovative approach has gained the brand a robust position within the hand-poured candle space, setting it apart from the competition in its pursuit of being the best and unique.
Even though Amanda started Coal and Canary as a passion project, not intending on becoming a business, she still did ample research on what was currently offered within the industry; and what wasn’t. With this research, she discovered a gap in the niche candle market and felt an opportunity to fill it.
Coal and Canary set the standard for candle production in Canada. From innovative packaging to youthful and trendy design, Coal and Canary remain at the forefront of the hand-poured candle industry. It has successfully married two typically juxtaposing attributes, selling luxury candles at an affordable price while focusing on the fun. The brand is the first of its kind for small batches, locally made candles, focusing on authenticity between its team and customers, fun branding, and design while not sacrificing quality.
Uniquely Driven Work Ethics
A mixture of fun and smart work is what makes Coal and Canary a unique beloved brand. Though Amanda says, “We like to say we don’t take ourselves seriously while taking the product we produce very seriously,” she loves to instill fun into every extension of the company.
Every wall at the office, warehouse, and storefront is painted with the brand’s signature pink color. Amanda integrates music at work to have fun and treats the staff to monthly Coal and Canary Fun Days by going on a special outing or participating in a fun activity together. She immensely believes in giving back to the community with value and respect while giving them a voice with utmost importance.
Helping Hand to Community
Coal and Canary were founded by a woman and member of the LGBTQI2S+* community; the brand has created the space for these particular minority groups. It strives to invite others into this space and connect with customers and other business owners who identify within these groups to give everyone a seat at the table. These efforts are demonstrated through C&C’s seasonal “I Can See Queerly Now” candle is re-released every summer. A portion of the proceeds from that candle is donated to a local LGBTQIA+* non-profit organization.
Into the Mix
What makes Coal and Canary a unique brand is the mix of conventional and modern blends. Amanda asserts that candles are a “very old” and traditional product, but the way these candles are marketed is innovative, fun, and current. Almost 100% of the company’s marketing efforts are executed through social media and email marketing. She continues that communicating through social media has been the most effective way to build stronger relationships with customers, expanding brand awareness and reach, which are incredibly important.
Shifting Tides
Amanda believes that design trends change every day; that is why she stays current by releasing different candle collections seasonally. Amanda enjoys researching new trends and ensures those trends are continuously incorporated into Coal and Canary’s marketing and design efforts!
Over the Horizon
In the long run, Amanda aims to continue to grow and hopes to be known as the number one hand-poured candle company in Canada. She would love to expand the brick and mortar of her venture across the country in anticipation of allowing her customers to be in a fully immersive Coal and Canary space.
Only time can tell where Coal and Canary make their mark; however, Amanda wants to make her stores interactive and experiential by having people prep, pour, and box candles in the store space. In her opinion, this initiative will create a stronger connection with customers and help to demonstrate the love and care that goes into making every candle!
Lighting the Candle
In her advice to budding women entrepreneurs aspiring to begin their venture in the marketing sector, Amanda recommends speaking to other women in the community who currently work in the market sector and asking them about their firsthand experience and advice!
She says, “Entering any male-dominated industry can be intimidating at times, but it’s important to stay focused, and remember that as a woman in the business community, you bring a unique voice and perspective that’s important to be heard.”
“You’re going to make mistakes along the way, but make sure to use them as learning experiences to continue to grow, improve, and hone your craft,” Amanda concludes.