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Rising Stars: Meet Korissa Silverthorn

Today we’d like to introduce you to Korissa Silverthorn.

Hi Korissa, please kick things off for us with an introduction to yourself and your story.
Hi! I’m Korissa and I’m the one-woman show behind Yellow Harp. I’m a native San Diegan and Stay At Home Mom to 3 wildlings. (My oldest and only daughter, Harper, is Yellow Harp’s namesake!) I have always loved anything in the realm of home decor, cosmetics, skincare, fragrance, bath & body products, and of course, candles! I wouldn’t say I’m creative or artistic, but I love to tinker. It wasn’t until recently that I realized I’ve been a Maker for a lot longer than that term has been trendy. 😉

In the almost 13 years I’ve been a SAHM, I have become the maker of many things. Although candles and home fragrance products are my absolute fav to make, I also love to make bath bombs, body butters, scrubs, and other feel-good pamper goodies. As a teen, I was obsessed with beads. I would make beaded purses and shop at antique shops for vintage bottles then embellish them with shimmering seed beads in geometric patterns to gift to friends and family. I wish I still had some of them! A few years back I went through a phase where I found as many things around my house as I could to spray paint and give new life! I also went through a make-my-own-cleaning-products phase and would literally sit and grate laundry soap to mix up homemade detergent and the like!

I always knew I wanted to share my concoctions with the world by starting a little home-based business, but it wasn’t until I fell in love with candle-making that I knew what my business would be. I spent a little over a year working on the basics of my brand. I wanted my product line to be classic enough that they could be confidently given as gifts without worrying if it will fit the recipient’s decor, while still feeling luxurious and special. Each scent was carefully curated to be exactly what I envisioned for Yellow Harp. Only the most beautiful, unique, and special fragrances made the cut. I love the look on people’s faces when they smell a Yellow Harp candle for the first time. It’s usually a mix of pleasure and ponder-my fragrances always have a special twist that makes you think, “That smells amazing, what is it?!”

In addition to beautiful scents and classic aesthetics, safety is my main priority. I use only the highest quality supplies possible including phthalate-free & Prop 65 ingredient free fragrance oils, wood wicks made of unprocessed wood that has been harvested in the USA by Forest Stewardship Council certified mills, and sustainable coconut wax free of parabens, paraffin, and dyes. I feel great about burning these candles and using these products around my family, and want every customer to feel the same.

I have put my heart and soul into this little business, and take pride in every product I make. I endlessly research and test each product to be the safest, highest quality, and most beautiful it can be. Besides my family and earning my business degree a lifetime ago, Yellow Harp is my pride and joy and I hope every customer feels the love that was put into creating each product.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
I think my initial struggle was literally starting my business the exact week that Covid hit. I had been quietly working on my business for the year prior-researching everything I could find about candle making, making and testing more candles than I could count, developing my brand, doing the business end paperwork, pouring a small start-up inventory, and building my Etsy shop. When I was finally ready to sell, I had grand plans to announce to all my friends and family what I had been working so hard on by launching my Etsy shop and sharing my Yellow Harp social media. I envisioned lots of excitement and support from my friends and family, but that’s not how things went down. That week in March that schools shut down was the week I was going to share Yellow Harp with the world. But with Covid becoming such a scary threat, I didn’t know if I should follow through. I suddenly didn’t feel like candles were important and everything I had been working on felt pretty insignificant.

I considered quitting because I wasn’t sure what the world was in store for and didn’t think anyone would even care, let alone buy my products. It took me about a week to realize it would be a personal tragedy if I quit altogether, but that I wouldn’t make a huge announcement out of it like I initially thought I would. I quietly opened my Etsy shop to the public and kept on posting to my social media. I told friends and family about Yellow Harp individually as I saw or talked to them. But there was no grand following. No grand launch. Nevertheless, I got my first order the first week my shop was live! It was my son’s then teacher who I had gifted a candle to for Christmas the following year. She loved it so much and told me every time her friends came over they would ask about the candle and how to get one. The next order was a friend of a friend who had smelled one of my candles at our mutual friend’s house. The orders slowly started coming and I realized this was going to work out, despite the rough start and timing.

A few months into selling on Etsy, I decided to begin selling at local artist shops. Setting up displays, learning the ropes of retail selling, and working with store owners was completely new to me. I was learning as I went (and still am!), but the continued shutdowns, slow retail traffic, and quarantines were extremely tough to navigate. I knew it wasn’t a true representation of retail shopping, but it was all I knew and have known for Yellow Harp. I have kept my head up and continue to enjoy being in retail shops and love that customers can find Yellow Harp in person or online.

I have since shouted Yellow Harp out to all my friends and family and have had unwavering support from all of my loved ones. From sharing my social media, to telling their friends about Yellow Harp, to purchasing my products to gift to their loved ones, to even just asking how my business is doing, I have so much encouragement and support. I’m so glad I decided to keep moving forward!

My other struggle that I continually deal with is my family/entrepreneur balance. I was a stay-at-home mom for a very long time and I have given my family my undivided attention for as long as my kids can remember. These days, I am balancing their needs with the needs of Yellow Harp. My days are often spent pouring candles, morning are often spent packaging orders, and they are often along for the rides to the Post Office. I am a one-woman show and it’s not just a matter of making and selling! I have had to teach myself photo editing, how to build a website, business taxes, and everything in between. I spend hours researching supplies and ingredients, testing new fragrances, and so much more. My kids have each individually told me they wish I didn’t have a business, but they all understand how much I love it. We’ve had valuable conversations about how this is something I am passionate about and how just because something is hard, doesn’t mean we quit. I know they are all proud of me and secretly like the fact that their mom has her own business! My husband is my biggest cheerleader and supporter and continually encourages me, so the kids follow his lead and together we are figuring out how to balance Yellow Harp within our family.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
My handmade home fragrance items will always have an emphasis on clean, safe, and high-quality ingredients. My products include coconut wax candles with crackling wood wicks, room & linen sprays, and wax melts. I specialize in beautifully scented products made from the highest quality supplies I can find including phthalate-free & Prop 65 ingredient free fragrance oils, wood wicks made of unprocessed wood that has been harvested in the USA by Forest Stewardship Council certified mills, and sustainable coconut wax free of parabens, paraffin, and dyes. My room and linen sprays are made from organic witch hazel, and my wax melts are made from natural soy and colored with ethically sourced mica. A portion of proceeds from purchases from one of my suppliers is donated to Made in the Free World, an organization dedicated to eradicating child slavery and forced child labor. I am proud of the efforts I have made to ensure these products are safe and feel great about burning these candles and using these products around my family, and want every customer to feel the same.

In addition to my clean and safe standards of what goes in to my products, they smell really very beautiful. Curating my line of fragrances was an amazing journey. I got to smell scents from all over the world, and landed on what I believe is a gorgeous collection of scented home fragrances that anyone will love.

I am so proud that Yellow Harp has become the go-to gift for many of my customers. I have heard time and time again that my candles are the perfect gift for any occasion because of the clean and classic look, as well as beautiful fragrances.

What do you like best about our city? What do you like least?
I am a native San Diegan and have never lived anywhere else, nor would I want to!! I was born in Escondido and have also lived in Valley Center, Vista, Poway, and now Ramona. I grew up going to Sea World, the Zoo, the Wild Animal Park (I’ll always call it that!) Jack Murphy Stadium (again…even though it’s gone!), Sea Port Village, every beach in town, the Gaslamp, and everywhere in between. Nowadays some of our favorite places to take our kids are Balboa Park, Waterfront Park, Poway Lake, and everywhere in between!

San Diego feels like no other city because of our laid-back vibes, beautiful weather, genuinely nice people, and amazing food! There is always so much to do with the mountains, desert, and beach all within a 90-minute drive anyway. I love that our city that has the small local cultures as well as a more collective San Diego culture. I know living downtown is a different lifestyle than living in Ramona, Encinitas, or Rancho Santa Fe, but we are all San Diegans and we are all proud of it.

Pricing:

  • large black candles $27
  • small gold candle $17
  • room & linen spray $15
  • wax melts $11

Contact Info:

  • Email: yellowharpessentials@gmail.com
  • Website: www.yellowharpessentials.com
  • Instagram: @yellowharpessentials
  • Facebook: @yellowharpessentials

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