My guest this week is Mei Xu, a Chinese-American entrepreneur who is the founder and CEO of two global companies, Yes She May and Chesapeake Bay Candle®.
Using Grit and Innovation to Grow a Multi-Million Dollar Business | Business with Purpose Podcast EP 267: Mei Xu, Chesapeake Bay Candle Co.
Click a timestamp below to be taken to the exact spot in the episode…
She is the author of Burn, which details her story of ingenuity, determination, and luck. Spanning three decades, from 1991 when she arrived at Washington’s Dulles Airport, to today, Mei’s story is one of stunning success. She built a multi-million-dollar company, met and counseled thousands of entrepreneurs and business people, and even advised the President of the United States Barack Obama on the topic of job creation.
Mei successfully negotiated the sale of Chesapeake Bay Candle to Newell Brands in 2017, a conglomerate with a $14 billion portfolio of consumer goods. She is now focused on helping women-owned consumer product companies grow and prosper with the Yes She May product platform.
4:40 – Mei 101
- Mei grew up in China and was one of two daughters. Her parents told them they could do anything boys could do.
- At age 12, she enrolled in a foreign language middle school, and that was a big turning point for her.
- It allowed her a chance to find out what it would be like to be a diplomat.
11:50 – Making candles
- Mei’s dad found out she was making candles and was very confused. He said, “What does a candle do?”
- If you’re afraid to start something new, Mei says, “You have to roll up your sleeves and find whatever it takes to get started.”
21:50 – Billion-dollar industry
- Candles are a billion-dollar industry. They speak to her audience and are popular, especially around Christmas.
- People didn’t burn her candles in the beginning because they were too decorative and pretty. So, she realized she wanted people to burn them so they would buy more.
27:22 – Do it better
- We need to ask ourselves how to do things better and get more women involved in the supply chain and manufacturing.
36:13 – Yes She May
- Mei wants to connect consumers with brands that are owned by women
- They searched around the world for designers and brands in beauty, fashion and wellness.
41:52 – Women-owned businesses
- Mei says very few women-owned businesses make more than $250,000 a year. That can make it hard to get your products in Target, Macys or other large stores.
44:51 – Burn book
- Her book is about preservation and the immigrant story.
- You can never abandon where you came from.
- Your story could inspire other people.
50:14 – Get to know you
- Who would play Mei in a movie? Reese Witherspoon
- Hidden or unusual talents? She has great comedic timing and instinct
- Best vacation? Sardinia boat trip
The pandemic also made me realize that we are really all connected.
It sounds dazzling just to think, as a student, as a diplomat, how does she end up making candles? My dad was very confused.
You have to roll up your sleeves and find whatever it takes to get started.
CONNECT WITH MEI:
ABOUT MEI XU:
Mei Xu, a Chinese American entrepreneur, is the founder and CEO of two global companies, Yes She May and Chesapeake Bay Candle® and author of Burn which details her journey from China to starting and growing a multi-million-dollar business in the U.S. In June 2020, Mei created the e-commerce platform, Yes She May (www.YesSheMay.com) to help women-owned brands reach a larger audience and scale. Her team aims to provide consumers a curated collection of thoughtful, high quality products made by talented women vendors from around the world.
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