HOW DID WE GET HERE?
People are usually curious about how I got into this business of selling matchsticks and match striker sheets.
Well, I have been a candle and incense lover for years and have always strongly preferred using matches to light them.
In 2004, I was browsing handmade pottery at an art show in Atlanta and noticed these beautiful oil warmers. I had a "flash" of an idea -- a little pocket in the back of the oil warmer that could store some matches. I thought that would make a neat and complete lighting kit and would look very pretty instead of having an ugly matchbox or lighter laying around. A few years later, during an unrelated business meeting, I had another "flash" and realized that what I really wanted was just a cute container for the matches themselves, so I started playing around with different vases and literally cut the striking strips off of matchboxes and glued them to the containers. I even sold a few of them to friends.
Fast forward through several years of research and experiments, discovering the world of antique match holders and strikers, learning more about matchstick production than I ever wanted to know, and *most* importantly -- finding the matchstick manufacturers that sold sheets of match strike paper -- and Strike a Match was born.
Initially, I only sold little matchstick holders. These were 3" rectangle vases that held 2" matchsticks, and had a striker shape on the side, which I cut out of the match strike paper using a handheld paper punch.
Then people started asking me if they could just buy the striker shapes from me, and not the match holders. So, I started selling the striker shapes separately. Eventually people also started asking me where I purchased the striker shapes. I explained that I cut them from sheets of match strike paper that I imported. More and more people started asking to purchase the sheets of match strike paper, and it finally occurred to me that THAT in itself was a product. In 2016, when I first listed the match strike paper on Etsy, within 2 weeks, they were outselling everything. I was truly stunned (still am).
As time went on, people started requesting different striker shapes. I only had a small selection at first -- heart, moon, sun, cat, fleur de lis -- plus circles and squares ranging from 1" to 2". People would send me custom requests for 3" squares, 1/2" x 2" rectangles, 3/4" circles, etc. So, I started offering a wider range of shapes and sizes, and to this day, they are my best selling products, especially the 2" rounded squares in honeycomb pattern and 1" circles in dark gray.
Now, despite all of this, the #1 question I have always gotten is "Where can I buy matchsticks online"? You'd think in this day and age, buying a variety of matchsticks online would be easy. Well, it's not hard, but it is tedious and requires a lot of research. There is not a single site that contains a range of matchstick colors and sizes available to retail consumers. Many sites sell 2" matchsticks in a variety of colors, but rarely 4". Several sites carry 10" or 11" fireplace matchsticks, but only in one color. There are wholesalers who do have an entire catalog of matchsticks, but you have to purchase at least 1,000, whereas most people only want a few. Last year, I started the process of adding this dimension to our online shops, with the ultimate goal of creating the best online retail store for matchsticks in the world, where you can buy 2", 4", or 11" matchsticks in a rainbow of colors. It will be a slow process, as I am mostly bootstrapping this thing, but each year, I will add more matchstick colors and sizes until I have the online retail store that I envisioned.
I have been in business officially since the summer of 2011, initially on Etsy and then started selling on Amazon in 2018, which has increased sales tremendously.
I am looking forward to connecting to more and more matchstick lovers each year. This has been so much fun, and I'm truly tickled I get to do this (almost) full-time.
Check out our story on the Side Hustle School podcast
from December 2018! It's not an interview, but rather a short summary of our business, based on a questionnaire we completed for the show.