A Vienna business started by a 9-year-old got a national spotlight yesterday (Wednesday) when its young founder appeared on “The Drew Barrymore Show.”
Smell of Love Candles CEO Alejandro Buxton, now 13, was invited to the daytime talk show for an episode celebrating Black Entrepreneurs Day, which was created in 2020 by FUBU founder and CEO Daymond John to promote and raise money for Black-owned businesses.
In addition to getting advice from John, who co-hosted the episode with Barrymore, Alejandro received a $10,000 check from the Alexandria-based human resources company TriNet.
“It was the most amazing experience that I have had in my life,” Alejandro told FFXnow. “In preparing for the show, every emotion that you could feel…happy, nervous, shy, excited; I was overwhelmed and was feeling everything. I didn’t know how it would go and then once I got on the show and when I got on stage, Drew was so nice and Daymond as well so they made me feel really comfortable. Daymond gave me really good advice and I’m really grateful to Drew and her staff for everything they gave me on the show.”
As he recounted during the show, Alejandro launched Smell of Love Candles to create candles for his mom, Patricia Buxton, who “really loved candles” but got headaches from the ones they previously had in the house. Those candles also triggered Alejandro’s asthma.
The company’s candles are made out of soy wax and use carefully handpicked and tested fragrances, according to its website. A pop-up stall at Tysons Corner Center that opened last fall closed at the beginning of this year, but Smell of Love Candles has found success as an online store and at local weekend markets around the D.C. area.
Alejandro shared on “The Drew Barrymore Show” that he had sold more than 16,000 candles by the end of 2022, impressing both the host and John.
“It’s just so inspiring. On behalf of all moms, thank you for being you,” Barrymore said after the teen credited his mom’s love as his motivation.
Now four seasons in after premiering in fall 2020, “The Drew Barrymore Show” has drawn praise for its intimate interviews of normally guarded celebrities, but the “E.T.” actor faced a fierce backlash this fall when she attempted to film while the Writers Guild of America was on strike. She soon backtracked and shut down production until the strike ended on Sept. 27, though three writers in the WGA still declined to return.
Barrymore introduced Alejandro to her audience yesterday as “an absolute cutie pie” and noted that he’s “a huge fan” of John.
“We want to surprise him, because he has no idea you’re here right now,” she told John.
Alejandro confirms he “had no clue” that he would meet John, who’s regularly featured as an investor on the reality TV show “Shark Tank.”
“It’s the only thing I watch almost every episode, and he’s one of my favorite sharks,” Alejandro said. “So, seeing him in person and him giving me advice, that was really big.”
John advised Alejandro, who asked how to get his products in physical stores, to essentially keep doing what he’s doing, selling directly to customers instead of working with other distributors.
“If the store sells it, you don’t know who bought it, but if you sell it direct, you know who bought it,” John said. “…You want to super-size everybody’s fries, and the way to do that is having this communication of growing a community like you’re doing already.”
Alejandro says he plans to follow that advice. Having the $10,000 from TriNet certainly can’t hurt when it comes to operating a business. The candle-maker told FFXnow that he plans to use the money to buy supplies — both for Smell of Love Candles and for classrooms in need.
“My mom used to be a teacher, and it’s hard to be a teacher, so we’re fulfilling teacher wish-lists,” Alejandro said.
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