Malibu Apothecary Founder Claire Ellis on Seven Mile beach in Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands

Before I even knew what I wanted to do when I grew up, I knew I wanted to travel. I remember asking my father at a young age, "which jobs can you travel?" He replied with, "journalist." So from ages seven to ten, I thought that what was I wanted to do. That is until our creative writing course in fourth grade, where I realized writing wasn't my best skill. Fortunately, this dream would not die there as I had my first opportunity to live overseas through a study abroad program. To justify my plan to up and move to the South of France, as someone who had only un petit knowledge of French, I created an excel spreadsheet that would outline the cost differences to my parents. For the first time, the cost of private school would work in my favor, and in two months, I would be living in Nice, France, with my new host family.

Malibu Apothecary Founder Claire Ellis in Ville Franche near Nice France on the beach

My seven months spent living on the Côte d'Azur allowed me to explore 13 different countries over Europe, opening my eyes to a world of cultures, experiences, tastes, sights, and scents. My passion didn't die there; I would later find myself traveling around Asia solo for five weeks, delivering water filters in the backroads of Kenya, and snorkeling around the Caribbean.

Malibu Apothecary Founder Claire Ellis on a beach in Formentera, Spain near Ibiza on a motorcycle
During and after graduating, with degrees in Marketing and Entrepreneurship, from Southern Methodist University in the Cox School of Business, I worked in a variety of marketing and PR roles. From entertainment companies such as the Dallas Stars Hockey Club, Fortune 100 media conglomerates like Universal Pictures and Sony Pictures, and tech start-ups in the media space, I was on track for a career in media and entertainment. 

Malibu Apothecary Founder Claire Ellis on the Great Wall of China near Beijing
But as life pulls you away, and the allure of travel pulled me back, I started pouring candles as a hobby in my Southern California apartment as a way to transport me to these places through scent. Based on the science that our sense of smell is the most potent trigger of memory, I was able to relive some of these precious moments. Through a whiff of jasmine, I was back in France, or a fresh slice of grapefruit would take me to Turks & Caicos; I wanted to encapsulate these memories.

Malibu Apothecary Founder Claire Ellis on a Camel in the desert in Dubai

Here, I discovered the toxicity and unethical standards prevalent throughout the candle industry. Ultimately, this inspired the foundation of Malibu Apothecary, my vacation-inspired, mission-based candle company. With each scent inspired after coastal places I have traveled, these fragrances aim to capture the essence of these exotic locales through their notes and names. Further fueled by my passion for clean, non-toxic living, Malibu Apothecary donates 20% of all candle sales to coastal conversation and the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

Founder Claire Ellis in Nandi Hills, Kenya at Samoei Boys Secondary School

Upon starting Malibu Apothecary, I did not plan to make it a full-time venture; It was merely a hobby I was hoping to fund. Driven by my perfectionism, every small detail soon required copious amounts of my time. Whether it was coding a website, designing packaging, curating scents, knocking on retailers' doors, or sourcing suppliers, it became evident that this hobby would be something that I would need to devote both time and capital resources too. Balancing a demanding job in the start-up space while taking weekends to travel for a long-distance relationship, it became difficult also to run a business as a one-woman show. Everything became a decision: seeing friends, making dinner, calling my significant other, going to an event, or fulfilling 100 candle orders in my studio apartment. Almost one year after founding, Malibu Apothecary, I took the leap of faith into full-time entrepreneurship in February 2020. Little did I know the world as we knew it was about to change. 

Malibu Apothecary Founder, Claire Ellis, on a diving boat with diving gear in Phuket, Thailand

Although always difficult, becoming a full-time business owner with the opportunity to create change is such a beautiful honor and club that I am proud to be apart of. I think now more than ever, while we have been staying home, candles have become a way to make those nights stuck in your room, even more special. With every burn, I hope you are taken to a beach far away. 

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