If our communities are the heart and soul of the Pine Tree State, then hard work is the heart and soul of our communities. From the seacoast to across the interstate, each town has its own distinct qualities, but passion and grit are the foundation of them all. For my family, that hard-working Mainer spirit transformed our candle-making project into a successful multi-state brand.

In 2018, my wife, Stacy, began to dabble in the art of candle making in her free time, searching for a new formula that wouldn’t affect my asthma. Our basement became a candle lab with my wife and I acting as mad scientists, in constant search for the perfect formula. With ample research and countless experiments, we soon acquired a wealth of knowledge in the candle world that we parlayed into a small home shop. We didn’t necessarily know that we were creating a business when we began, but when we realized what we had built, we knew we had to share it.

Before envisioning the future of our burgeoning company, I considered franchising only applicable to big corporations and brands, the kinds you see signs for driving down the interstate. When it was time for my wife and I to explore how to sustainably grow our business while keeping the integrity of the brand we built, we learned the reality of franchising — an incubator for small businesses like mine to grow.

We realized we were most passionate about helping others reach the level of success we had through our hard work. We wanted people to run our store who were just as invested in the success of our company, Sea Love, as we were. The small candle shop operating out of our basement transformed into a franchise of eight locations, each offering their owners the chance to build wealth for their families in the same way we did without the hassle of the mad science lab.

In March, I had the privilege of joining local franchisees and state Sen. Matt Pouliot of Augusta for a rewarding Franchising 101 Roundtable. I listened to other franchisees tell remarkable stories of the vast opportunities franchising provides for them and their communities as well as sharing my own. Sen. Pouliot joined in our discussion, underscoring the sector’s contributions to fueling economic growth across Maine.

In 2023, more than 2,400 franchise establishments brought more than 24,600 jobs to Mainers, contributing approximately $2.5 billion in economic output. With tremendous benefits to our economy and workforce, it’s no surprise to see our franchise flourish in several local communities. Franchising is also expected to add more than 221,000 jobs to the economy this year alone, as employment across the industry topped 8.7 million last year.


Our additional seven locations are now igniting entrepreneurial opportunities and career development for individuals across the country. In addition to enabling local business ownership through our franchise, we also use Maine-local vendors to source supplies for all eight locations, expanding their avenue of growth.

During the panel, I also highlighted the boundless opportunities franchising offers to veterans. When I left the military and looked to enter the workforce, I felt abandoned as I tried to navigate the business scene with no prior experience. At Sea Love, we provide a helping hand to veterans wanting to dive into the business world and become financially independent — as do franchises across the country. Although veterans make up only about 7% of the population, they account for a whopping 14% of all franchisees in America.

So, if you ever find yourself at one of our Sea Love locations, or at a franchise more broadly, remember the small business model that’s at play here, allowing local members in your community to own and manage a business with the support of a brand behind them.

My wife and I transformed our passion project into an entrepreneurial launchpad that now offers ownership and job opportunities to others. We are grateful to Sen. Pouliot for his support for our sector and call on all lawmakers in Maine to advocate for policies that bolster our franchising industry so more residents can actualize their own business journeys.

With our leaders’ support and the grit and determination of Mainers that run the businesses, the franchising model will continue to empower people in our communities to go into business for themselves, but not by themselves.

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