We had the good fortune of connecting with Trista Gangestad and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Trista, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
During the pandemic, I was burning candles more because I, like everyone, was stuck at home. One day I noticed a black mark on the ceiling above my favorite candle. After climbing the ladder to reach the vaulted ceiling and discovering the mark wouldn’t come off, I started researching why the candle did that to my ceiling. I discovered that most candles out there are made from paraffin wax (which is basically petroleum) and full of all sorts of horrible chemicals. Many of the wicks used in those candles also have a metal core and most fragrance oils are made from dangerous chemicals as well. So I started looking for a safer candle option. When I couldn’t find exactly what I wanted, I decided to start making my own candles.

The candles we make are hand poured using 100% soy wax, cotton wick, clean fragrances. They don’t release any soot or chemicals. They don’t aggravate allergies, cause headaches and are safe for children and pets.

Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
Clever Cow Candle Co is unique because not only do we offer clean burning candles, but we make them in enamel mugs and metals tins with clever, inspiring and sometimes sarcastic designs on them. I worked in public relations and graphic design for about 12 years before leaving the workforce to focus on being a mom. When I decided to start this business, I knew I could use my professional skills to set my candles apart from others on the market. I love graphic design and came up with the idea to create different designs that could be sublimated onto the candle vessels (in our case, enamel mugs). Whether you’re looking for something inspirational, funny, ironic, a message of thanks or appreciation, we’ve got a design for that. And if we don’t, we’re happy to create a custom design! My first challenge was learning how to get my designs onto the candle vessels. Initially, I partnered with another local woman-owned small business to sublimate them for me, but as my business grew, that quickly became unproductive. So after some research, some trial and error, and help from my husband, I learned how to do it on my own. That has made my business much more streamlined and allows me to produce finished candles much faster.
It was important to me that the designs be sublimated, not applied with a sticker or label. I wanted them to be permanent. So when a customer is done enjoying their candle, they can clean out the mug and use it to enjoy their favorite beverage. Or they could use it to store pens, makeup brushes, etc.
So not only are our candles clean burning, but they are also sustainable.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
If my bestie was visiting my hometown, I would take her up in to the mountains of Colorado. We are close to Estes Park, one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen. Fort Collins is full of great shopping, amazing restaurants, and beautiful views too. I would rent a cabin in the mountains near the river with a fire pit and hot tub. We’d go shopping, horseback riding, ride the mountain coaster, eat great food and just hang out together.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I wouldn’t be where I am today without the support and mentorship of several women business owners and a few different business mastermind groups. I was fortunate to join a small group mastermind early on in my business called We Aspire. Since then, I’ve participated in other amazing mastermind groups, including The Growth Zone and Multi-Stream Machine. I’ve also met some amazing women in business through local networking groups, including FoCo Boss Babes, Blissness, and NoCo Women’s Connect, and just joined PolkaDot Powerhouses and Pepperlane to meet even more women business owners locally and nationally.  As a solopreneur, these relationships are invaluable. We all need someone to bounce ideas off of, someone to talk us off the ledge and someone to cheer us on. We also need people who’ve been there before us to guide us in the right direction.

Website: www.clevercowcandleco.com

Instagram: @clevercowcandleco

Facebook: @clevercowcandleco

Image Credits
Eleni Thayer Photography

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutColorado is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.