Samm Stangeland officially started Rock & Roll Candle Co. a few years back before being consumed with her jobs in the music industry as a local Production for Live Nation LA, Road Manager and Production Coordinator for Lady Gaga, and Logistics for Nona Entertainment. When all three jobs halted as a result of the pandemic in 2020, her focus was then redirected to growing her candle company. In this interview, Stangeland tells us how it has been an absolute blessing to have something to pour her energy into and to share her love of music and candles with everybody.
Jason: Can you begin by telling us how you got involved in the music industry?
Samm Stangeland: Would love to! I was in my early 20s, had just finished college, and was living the SoCal lifestyle of hanging at the beach during the day and cocktailing at night. It was fun, but after a few years of it, I felt like my life was going nowhere. Simultaneously, was looking for a new job and my friend, who had been on the production side of the Live Nation SoCal concerts, asked if I was interested in being a runner—basically a go-for for the tours performing for that day. I hesitantly obliged and by the end of that season, I had a more stable role with Live Nation. One thing led to another, and here we are 12 years later. I’ve since worked with almost every A-level band plus many others, and I’m extremely grateful for all of it. In hindsight, my life would have been so different had I not accepted that gig. Amazing how one decision can absolutely change your life.
Jason: You’ve been in music for a long time, how has social media changed the game, in positive and negative ways?
Samm Stangeland: Ah, so much to say about this. Positive ways would be that you can now find artists much easier and understand their worlds with a click of a button. I think that’s really great, especially for identifying and enjoying artists. Negative ways, well, I think everyone feels the need to be on social media while at a concert, and it takes away from the overall experience, for the artist, too. And it gives access to just about anyone, which over saturates the industry but, it’s the world we live in today.
Jason: What were you doing before you started Rock & Roll Candle Co.?
Samm Stangeland: Producing concerts in Los Angeles and SoCal for the last 12 years. I’m actually still doing that as well as running Rock & Roll Candle Co. I’m happy to still have the chance to stay active in the industry, and the goal is to blend the two careers.
Jason: What made you want to go in that direction? What is the process?
Samm Stangeland: I’ve always wanted to be in the music industry, I just had no idea how I was going to achieve that since I didn’t go to school for it and didn’t even really know what I wanted to do. I truly got lucky that life guided me into that position. I mean, every day that I went to work, I got to see a concert. There are so many jobs in the music industry and somehow, I navigated my way to help put on some of the biggest shows in the world with all sorts of artists, in one of the premier markets in the world. I still pinch myself.
Jason: What were some challenges you faced when creating your product?
Samm Stangeland: Well, I had never started a candle business nor any kind of business, so it was all a challenge, haha! But I truly believed in the product and the vision. I think the biggest obstacles were packaging, hot scent throw, and marketing. Still are. I want them to be perfect, look perfect, smell perfect, and be marketed and visible to anyone and everyone, so it’s a constant challenge but a great one, and I’m enjoying the journey.
Jason: What are some important characteristics of being a successful small business owner?
Samm Stangeland: Ambition is number one. Without that, I can’t even imagine attempting to run your own business. In addition, great organization skills, guts, self-esteem, and tenacity. Being a small business owner is no easy task, it takes a mental and physical toll, but the reward is so great. I get so excited each time I make a sale—that something that was just an idea is now a tangible product that someone wants to buy. How cool is that?! (Pinch me, again!)
Jason: Do you have to get permission from a rocker before creating a candle based on a song of theirs?
Samm Stangeland: I don’t. I’m not actually using the band’s name, and it’s different intellectual property. In addition, they typically do not own the name of the song, but I always do have to check the trademarks.
Jason: Has a rock star thanked or complimented you on a candle you created in their honour?
Samm Stangeland: Not yet, but that is the goal, and to eventually do collaborations with artists.
Jason: What are your personal favorite Rock & Roll Candle Co. scents?
Samm Stangeland: I love Brown Sugar! It’s so universal, and it was the original song that gave me the idea to connect scents and songs and create candles. But to be honest, I love them all.
Jason: What are your goals going forward?
Samm Stangeland: Expansion is my number one goal. To get these candles in stores all over the world—museums, restaurants, record shops, hotels…everywhere. As well as grow the brand and launch new scents in different genres of music. And secondly, to figure out a recycling program and charitable arm for fire victims. Want to be as eco-friendly as possible and give back. The world can be a hard place, especially now, and my goal is to always do my best to do my part.
Jason: Anything else you’d like to say?
Samm Stangeland: Just that I really appreciate the opportunity to share my story and company with your audience. Life can be so wild, and I’m truly grateful for the magic in it all.