As many young Ottawa students begin to unwind for the summer, 12-year-old Anna Chandler Merlo is closing in on the third year of running her own business.
Chandler Merlo began 'The Wax Studio' in the fall of 2016 as her love of making homemade beeswax candles continued to flourish at a young age.
She tells OttawaMatters.com she picked up the skill and passion from her family, learning to dip candles at the age of seven and later developed an interest in business.
"I really love business and since I was really little, I loved making candles and really wanted to start a business where I could bridge two of my interests," Chandler Merlo said.
"It really fits into my life well...and I consider it a big part of my education for life since I've learned so much from it."
Using all-natural products, moulds and some of her designs, Chandler Merlo now has products featured in a number of stores in Ottawa, like Maker House Co. on Wellington Street West, which she said really helped start to expand her business.
"It's a really great place to have my candles...so it really helped me stock my portfolio," she said.
She's also featured in stores in Wakefield, Que. and one in the Hamilton-area, while also taking orders on Etsy.
In starting her own business, the recent Grade 7 grad also wanted to be environmentally friendly, sticking to beeswax to help with the bee population and avoiding fragrances, except for essential oils used for some candles.
"Overall for the environment, it's really important to stay eco-friendly, shop local, shop homemade, it really helps a lot," she said, noting she's also trying to move towards plastic-free packaging.
When asked for advice for a person her age looking to start a business, Chandler Merlo offered up to do what you love or have a passion for.
"You'll be more motivated to continue than choosing something that seems really cool that people might like but it's hard, takes up more time and you don't really like it," she said.
"So if you're motivated and already like what you're doing than you're just going to continue on and be really happy about it, rather than feeling like it's a struggle."
Her favourite part of owning her own business is being able to meet other people, while the Ottawa small business and handmade community has been incredibly welcoming even despite her young age.
"I like being part of a handmade community where its really fun to go to craft fairs and know other people and share ideas. It's a lot of fun," she said.
She's keeping her options open, but for now wants to keep going for a few more yeats and has no real plans to expand the business.
"I'm only 12, so," she said with a laugh.
Products from 'The Wax Studio' can be found a number of retailers in the Ottawa-area, with more information available on its Etsy page.