Harry Doull Owner

Harry Doull is the co-founder of Keap, an Industry City-based high-quality candle company with a social mission.

Employees

6

Location

New York, NY

Industry

Candles

Founded

2015

Social

For our inaugural issue of WTFinance, Vendors at Canal Street Market share their two cents on money-saving strategies, professional rituals, and what freaks them out most about small business finances.

MONEY TALKS

Bond Street

What’s one thing you’ve done in your career that helped you succeed, and that very few other people do?

Harry Doull

Take a proper 45+ min lunch break where I completely get away from work every day. That time is really important to recharge, and you easily gain that time back in improved productivity in the afternoon and better well-being.

Bond Street

What’s a mistake you see get made all the time, even by very smart people? What have you learned from that to handle that thing the right way?

Harry Doull

Lacking focus and saying yes to everything. There are so many things we could do, but there aren’t enough hours in the day to do them all well. If you want to do something well, you have to accept that you need to forego doing other things that are also valid, fruitful ideas. To be honest, I’m still figuring out how to solve this!

Bond Street

Is there—or has there been—expenses you now see as big wastes in the rearview?

Harry Doull

Not really! We’ve been very cash-constrained, and that’s forced us to really think through our spending decisions. We’ve obviously made mistakes, but there isn’t a particular area that has been a real drain.

Bond Street

If you had an extra $___, what would you do?

Harry Doull

Open a beautiful store where people could interact with the candle making process, and learn about the magic of fragrance and of manufacturing.

Bond Street

What are some money-saving strategies you’ve used as a growing business?

Harry Doull

Invest a little time to learn to do things yourself almost as well as a pro—and get the pro only when you really need them. We also spend some time thinking about the economics of doing some things in-house vs. through a supplier, e.g. fulfillment or printing. The default business mantra is to outsource everything; in our opinion it sometimes makes sense, but sometimes it doesn’t.

Bond Street

What business expense–if any—have you most underestimated?

Harry Doull

Freight… I didn’t know anything about that world or that it is a significant percentage of every purchase we make. Also, random warehouse and office supplies: things like dollies and carts are outrageously expensive. It would be cool if there were a B Corp doing what ULine does in a more thoughtful way… just saying.

Bond Street

As a creative, is there anything about finance (or a financial concept) that still totally freaks you out (or you just can’t seem to get the hang of)?

Harry Doull

Not conceptually, though cash management has been a challenge. Another challenge is that, despite what you sometimes hear about “Wall Street helping entrepreneurs”, a bank that gives a loan to a startup is like a horse with wings. Getting access to credit has been near impossible for us, and I assume this is why we see many businesses around us raising VC money when their businesses are not well suited to that kind of investor.  

MISCELLANEOUS MUSINGS

Bond Street

Best summer job:

Harry Doull

World Food Program – working alongside some of the most inspiring, hardworking people I’ve ever met.

Bond Street

Worst summer job:

Harry Doull

Busboy at the breakfast shift of a hotel. I’m not a morning person…

Bond Street

What professional rituals do you have?

Harry Doull

Weekly clean-up of our workshop space. It also clears up our mind in a remarkable way.

Bond Street

Finish this sentence. Money is _________.

Harry Doull

not everything.

Bond Street

If you had to do another job, what would it be?

Harry Doull

Something that I also care about (but that might seem a bit random). I’ve been really impressed with a company called Ecovative, making amazing mushroom-based packaging that’s 100% biodegradable, and solving a big ecological problem of packaging waste. I’ve also learned to really admire Kickstarter the more I’ve worked with them. People there, starting at the top, really believe in what they’re doing, and it’s not all about the money.

Bond Street

3 favorite local independent businesses in NYC (and why):

Harry Doull

  1. Lighthouse
  2. Nowadays
  3. CW Pencils

There are a lot more in a similar vein; people that are really passionate about what they do, that go the extra mile to finesse every detail, and aren’t just after your money. It’s so obvious when you go to those places, and even more when you meet the owners.

Bond Street

Why is it important to support local independent businesses?

Harry Doull

Independent businesses are a reflection of local culture, and by extension of our humanity. They’re our best way to fend off the “money monoculture” as Kickstarter’s CEO puts it. My nightmare is to wake up to a world where all the stores on my block are chain stores run by mega-corporations. As humans we’re better than that, and the good thing is that we all have the power to support with our wallet businesses that make our world better, not worse.

Bond Street

Must-have item at Canal Street Market (that isn’t yours):

Harry Doull

Difficult one! I love my Dandy Farmer bonsai tree, and I’m also a sucker for Lulu’s fruit bowls, which are edible pieces of art.

More from Bond Street:

The World's Best Newsletter for Small Business Owners

Small business guides, news updates, profiles and more.

Thanks!