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Rising Stars: Meet Ruth DeGroff Piñon of Mesa, Az

Today we’d like to introduce you to Ruth DeGroff Piñon.

Hi Ruth , we’d love for you to start by introducing yourself
I have always wanted to own my own business, I have had entrepreneurial attributes since I was a little girl selling mangos and popcorn in Mexico at the age of six. Fast forward into adulthood, I didn’t know my husband was so good with his math skills and with technology until later in our marriage and when I saw those skills, I thought maybe he would be the best business partner for me. That mans is good with numbers, something I am not! He is also great at figuring out technology, something I would probably rip my hair out with. I am good at making anything look pretty like an instagram post, a flyer, an email, staging products etc. But owning our own business was never a clear goal we aimed for until about early 2020 when my original career idea did not work out. It is long, but I feel important to tell because there could be people out there that might feel they have landed somewhere they were not aiming for but suddenly they have found home and suddenly it feels more than right.

I started to physically prepare myself to become a police officer in March of 2017. I have never been more disciplined in my life than on the day I decided to go for a very demanding career path. I was never the kid that was athletic or fast or never ever did I like exercising. It took me about a year and a half of constant practice to do regular push-ups… I applied with 7 different agencies from 2018 to 2020, I got a lot of “No’s”, I failed some physical tests (and when I after failing, I went back again). One of them permanently removed me from ever being considered for a position with them without even interviewing me. I knew in my heart without a doubt that that is where I was meant to be. I wanted to have a career in where I could make a difference in peoples lives. For years I knew that God was with me and that I was just where I needed to be. But in early 2020 I was getting frustrated of waiting.. By this time my husband was working from home and I vividly remember going to his office to hand him some lunch and I couldn’t help but to tell him a few things out of frustration. He never wanted me to become a cop by the way but he was supportive of my decision, so I said to him “Babe! (with almost tears in my eyes) If you really don’t want me to be a cop then let’s have our own business! I really think you and I can work great together and build something out of nothing! But I need you to have ideas too!…” I said more things because I couldn’t stop talking.. I was very upset. To say that I prepared to be a cop for 4 years is an understatement. No one will really know how crazy our lives were during those years. All of my focus and attention went to one place and one place only. One day I got the call I was waiting for, my conditional offer with Mesa PD. Over the course of a year I had passed every step with this agency and now I was supposed to pass the very last one; a psychological exam. I did not pass. As I was studying for a college exam I got the call from my Det. “Ruth, I am very sorry to inform you that you did not pass your exam and we will have to remove you from the police academy in July”… This is what I heard after standing up from doing some push ups in my kitchen. This is what I have been waiting for and in a matter of a few seconds it was all gone… A friend of mine convinced me to apply to be a detention officer (working in the jail). I applied, and thought the process would take a long time like the others so I didn’t get my hopes up. I guess I applied just to apply. Within a few months my husband and I started our online boutique. I got super excited and all of my sadness and disappointment and wishful hopes faded quick. We purchased some women accessories and we started with that. I should mention that during the years of preparation to become a police officer I was also going to college. I was getting all of my necessary credits to transfer to NAU for my Criminal Justice Bachelors degree. I even worked really hard to up my GPA and qualify for a transfer scholarship which I did end up getting. I was supposed to start NAU in January 2020 but I had to drop the whole semester because of a starting date confusion due to me working graves in the jail. For the purposes of college way before our business started, I began to make candles to be able to fund for my education. I sold a few candles but along the way I discovered something.. something strange but amazing! I LOVED creating something! I really enjoyed creating something with my hands! As I learned more and more about the properties in candles I got hooked! I quickly connected the dots! One of them was that I always lit a candle when I didn’t feel good or when I had a bad headache. And this made me feel immensely relaxed and it also changed my mood. Another thing I learned is that candles are extremely toxic for our health. So I wanted to make something natural that people may enjoy without worrying about the hazardous smoke.

Let’s go back to when we decided to start our business, that was in July of 2020 (yes the month I was supposed to be starting the police academy) In August I got a call from the Jail (they wanted to hire me) I told my husband that I had never been more happy then when talking about business ideas and that I really didn’t know I would ever apply again to be in the law enforcement sector, so it was basically now or never. He was worried I wouldn’t give our young business the attention it needed. But I assured him that all would be okey! I took the job! It was amazing to get my foot in the door. But that is all it was just my one foot in the door. My other “foot” was back home thinking about business ideas. I was hired in Sept 2020 and fired in May 2021 for not passing a firearms test (I was in training, so within your first year they can really fire you for any reason because you are on probation). We officially launched our website on 10/15/20 and since getting fired we have made a lot of progress in our business. We incorporated our candles into to our boutique (I say our candles because we now make them together) in January 2021. And it has been an amazing road! My husband and I really enjoy making them together and we are proud to provide a high quality product to our customers. A candle that is free of all toxins and chemicals with 100% American grown natural soy wax is what we provide. We ensure that all products are made in the USA and that they all come with a seal of purity and cleanliness. Some might say that they can’t work with their spouses but I have so much fun working with my husband, we think better if we are together. He is my biggest cheerleader and my shoulder to cry on when stress hits the fan. We have made a huge progress in our business since I got fired in May. I am the creator and designer of everything in our business and my husband is my math guy, tech support and tax guy. I think we make the perfect team!

*Because I had to drop my semester in Jan 2021 I had time to rethink my career choices and in May I made the choice to not get a degree I wouldn’t end up needing and instead pour all of me into our own business.

We absolutely love owning our own business which we think it will most likely turn into an all candle shop one day. We work out of our home where have set up a working space within our living room (yes it gets pretty wild sometimes with two small kids and a dog) but we all help in one way or another. Our girls help us put stickers on the bottom of the candles and they help us put the lids on the candles after they have solidified. And our dog barks every time we get wax shipped over to us.

The name for our business came to us as we were driving from Idaho back to Arizona… we looked over at the beautiful sunset and I told my husband how beautiful the Az sunsets were, that they just had a unique glow to them like no other. And how the desert even when dry gifts us with some of them most gorgeous plants… and that is when I looked over at him and smacked him on his chest (yes that-happy-smack is real) and said “BABE! Arizona Desert Glow!” I love how naturally the desert is and I have so much respect for the strength that the desert plants have. It is truly remarkable. So having a clean product that honors that view in the business name was just perfect.

We have made lots of mistakes and missed a few things along the way. Like not remembering to renew our license in December (oops!). We have had months with zero sales and we have had months with one sale. So on the days when there is no revenue there is lots of learning and growing in making things better, not only physically but behind the scenes with technology and social media. There are lots of moving parts that go into a small business that take up a lot of time, so there’s really no ‘free’ time in the life of a small business owner unless it is intentional which in our case would only be for family time.

We have seen so many blessings and we have had so much growth (growth as entrepreneurs) since May. I have the best business partner one could ever have. I love creating a good clean product for people to enjoy and I am so happy I get to be the boss of my own time.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
It has been everything but smooth! Even our candle tops are not smooth sometimes! Some obstacles we encountered was learning how to use our online store (that was hard), we use Shopify. How to enter each of our products there took hours to learn but we stuck with Shopify because it was highly recommended by other business owners. To me an online store should feel like a physical store, one that is not confusing and user friendly. Our store looked like a Target mixed with a Goodwill store for sometime and that is only because my pictures were not aligned properly (or at least to my standards). Getting all of the back end things to work like setting up abandoned carts, sending emails, taking pictures of new products, marketing, learning about ads, social media for business purposes was all incredibly stressful. Getting a person to model your products is also a challenge. Also when we started things were very confusing as to the right paperwork we needed! There were many hoops to jump through getting the right business license and all of those fun legal documents. As far as for product challenges we only run into one challenge, competition. I didn’t realize how many candle makers there are in the valley. This made me want to stop, but my husband encouraged me to keep going. He said “no one will ever do what you can even if it’s the same scent” he continued to explain “How many burger joints do we have?” I said, “Wendy’s, McDonald’s, Burger King, Jack in The Box, In n Out..” he stopped me and said “and do you prefer one more than the other?” I said “yes I have my favorite place” he said “there you go, there maybe many candle makers out there and the customer will make their choice”

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
I am a family photographer, I am an educator, I am a developing author and I am a maker/small business owner.

The one thing I am most proud of is educating parents on how to protect their children from child sexual abuse. I am very passionate about this subject and I think we need to talk about it more than we do. I am also very happy to have something on the side that not a lot of people know about, but I help married couples on how to discover love again. It is something that brings me great joy. I am currently finishing up a short ebook that will become available very soon.

We all have a different way of looking at and defining success. How do you define success?
Success to me has different stages, I can’t define it as one thing because I am not only one thing. I am a mom, I am a wife and then I am a business owner. Being successful as a mom to me means I am a better mom for my girls with every passing day, but not the type of my mom I think I should be, the type of mom my girls need. Success in my marriage means that I am noticing the little things and acknowledging them as I show appreciation for them and him. And success in my business means that I am knowledgeable in my craft and my products make someone’s day a little better!

Success is balancing all the moving parts.

Contact Info:

Image Credits
JoAnna DeLuna Photography

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