Small Business Spotlight: SoDelta, Greenville
by Laura Smith
Published: March 6,2011
Idea for came to Hamilton ‘like a bolt of lightning’
The idea for SoDelta candles struck Lea Margaret Hamilton “like a bolt of lightning” one fall afternoon on a drive to the City of Greenwood.
“Combines were on both sides of the highway cutting soybeans and I just thought, ‘nobody is doing candles made with Mississippi Delta soybeans,” she said. “I thought that would be a great way to promote the Mississippi Delta and soybean farmers.
“I could not get home fast enough to start learning about it; I couldn’t read about it enough, couldn’t play around with it enough, couldn’t experiment enough.”
Hamilton said she decided her new company would be meant to be if a list of requirements were met.
“The first thing was coming up with the name,” she said. “SoDelta fit because it’s an expression we use in the Delta. We’ll say, ‘That outfit is so Delta; that painting is so Delta.’ The second thing on my list was if the domain name SoDelta wasn’t taken — and it wasn’t — so I thought, ‘This is good, this is good.’”
Hamilton next contacted the owner of the Leland shop Hobnob. She placed candles in the store on a Thursday, and at an art opening on Saturday only three candles were left.
“I’d given her all I had,” Hamilton said. “And they were really just my trial and error candles.”
From there, the candle company took off the ground. In the few months since that fall day in 2010, Hamilton’s SoDelta candle company is now in shops in Leland, Starkville, Greenwood, Greenville and Bay St. Louis.
Names of the candles reflect iconic Delta legends like Crossroads, Highway 61, 1927, and Sweet Tea. Candles come with a card attached that explains the significance of each name.
Made from a soybean wax provided by a Tennessee company that uses all natural soybeans grown by American farmers, Hamilton mixes up the candles and scents in her Greenville kitchen.
“I never dreamed the route we’ve taken was going to take off like it has,” she said.
Hamilton attributes her company’s success to the versatility candles offer as gifts.
“You can never go wrong with a candle. You don’t have to worry about size, about color, about style or design,” she said. “But the best thing about making them is that they make people so happy. I had a customer here today, and I loved seeing how happy he was, knowing that his gift was going to make someone else happy.”
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