Excerpted from Sweet July Magazine. To read the full story, get the Spring/Summer 2022 Issue here!
Collin, Ryan, and Austin Gill, 16, 13, and 11
Founders of Frères Branchiaux Candle Co.
When they needed a little extra spending money, these three brothers launched a vegan candle company that gives back.
What inspired you to start your own business so young?
We all got an allowance, but we wanted a few extra toys and games. One day in October 2017, we asked our mom again for more money. Her answer was, “No more money—get a job or start a business.” So that’s how we started.
Tell us about Frères Branchiaux Candle Co.
We create beautifully scented vegan candles for those who want self-care that gives back—10 percent of our profits are donated to homeless shelters nationwide. Our candles help you relax and reconnect to the feeling of home. By the way, “Frères Branchiaux” means Gill Brothers in French. We learned French in a French immersion school before we were homeschooled.
What’s the most fun part of running your business?
Working with one another! We have a lot of fun laughing and joking when we work. We can sometimes have a little too much fun—and then our parents might have to step in and get us back on track. Getting to work together is the best job.
What’s the most challenging thing about it?
Learning so much in such a short amount of time. We grew really fast in our second year of business. We had to learn about hiring people, getting a warehouse, shipping to stores … So many new things. As we learn more about being in business, it gets easier.
Most people don’t have a business until they’re older. Since you’ve already accomplished that, what do you each want to be when you grow up?
COLLIN: I want to be a professional football player in the NFL. I am currently a cornerback and safety on my varsity high school football team. After that, I want to continue to be a business owner.
RYAN: I want to be a professional baseball player in the MLB. I also want to be an architect and an entrepreneur. I want to own multiple businesses.
AUSTIN: I want to be a paleontologist.
What advice would you give to another young person who wants to start a business?
COLLIN: Learn how to balance being a kid and being an entrepreneur. Enjoy being a kid—business can make you grow up fast. But you can be both.
RYAN: Set goals and write them down—you will be more likely to reach them this way.
AUSTIN: Never give up. Keep going. And going. And going. It will be hard at times. You will feel like giving up. When you feel like that, take a break. Then keep going—but you need to rest when your mind and body tell you to rest.
Interview by Bethany Heitman; Photography courtesy of Frères Branchiaux Candle Co.