For most 13-year-old Chicagoans, life in seventh grade is filled with geometry, gym class and trying to find a way to juggle homework and a social life.
But most 13-year-olds aren’t Daniel Pelaez.
Daniel is the owner and the entrepreneur behind Golden Home, his luxury home and body care brand. Golden Home makes candles, room and linen sprays, body scrubs, lip balm and more. The company is a successful online business, with a strong presence at Chicago-based makers’ markets throughout the year.
“I do care about my school, but I also care about Golden Home,” Pelaez says. “So my days are usually filled with school from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Then, during the afternoons, I’m packing orders, pouring candles, posting stuff, marketing and emailing people. Sometimes in the summer, I’ll have a market — even on Fridays, so I have to rush to a market before 4:30. That’s usually how my schedule works.”
Daniel notes that being an entrepreneur while juggling middle school is no easy task, although his teachers and classmates are supportive.
“Honestly, the stress goes on,” he says. “Because especially through the slow months, I have to juggle school, tests and grades, while also trying to stabilize Golden Home to where it can still be a thing. I’m tired, but at the end of the day, it’s worth it.”
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Pelaez started Golden Home in October of 2020, fresh off of his 11th birthday. The company began as a soap company and expanded to candles shortly thereafter, when he realized how toxic many store-bought candles are. Daniel’s candles are made with coconut soy wax, and all of his fragrances are paraben- and phthalate-free.
“I’ve always had a passion for candles — trust me, you will never catch me not burning a candle,” Pelaez says. “So Golden Home was like, ‘Okay, I like candles, why not make them [myself]?’ That’s when I started to research how to make candles, and I came to realize how toxic and how not environmentally friendly they are. I strive to make really clean candles.”
Pelaez puts a lot of work into each of his scents (with 12 currently available), taking into consideration both what he likes along with what potential customers will like, too.
“I really go off what I’m trying to make the scent look like,” he says. “For example, for the scent Folk, I was going for a rich grandma, but also a young grandma vibe. She’s bougie. That’s what’s going through my mind.” (Expect notes of “pink pepper and decadent plum.”)
Daniel’s signature scent is the citrusy Golden, which he created back in 2020, although his best seller — and his personal favorite — is Dusk, with saffron, white tea, purple peony, orchid, tobacco, vanilla, almond milk and tonka bean.
“When you smell Dusk, you get the muskiness and the strongness of the tobacco, but you also smell the light floral, the vanilla and the almond milk,” he says.
While Daniel’s family is supportive of his business — which he runs out of a set-up in his home’s basement — he manages most of it entirely on his own, with a little help from his sister and his dad, who handles the logistics of his in-person markets.
“In my mind, I would never want to work under someone else,” Pelaez says. “That’s just kind of who I am. I want to do it myself at the moment. If I want to do it, I’m going to do it. No one is going to stop me. No one is going to put a roadblock in my way. I’m going to get to my goal one way or another.”
Daniel has big dreams of continuing to grow Golden Home throughout 2023 and beyond, with plans to collaborate with local creators and dreams of opening his own brick-and-mortar storefront. But whatever the future of Golden Home holds, he knows one thing for sure: He wants to be in charge of it.
“When I see [the future of] Golden Home, I want to be the owner,” he says. “I want to say that I’m proud to own Golden Home, and it’s mine. Even if that means I have offers for millions of dollars, I still want Golden Home to be mine.”
Daniel encourages other young people to follow their dreams of opening their own business, no matter what else they have going on in life — be it middle school or something entirely different. All that work, he says, is worth it.
“Honestly, the best thing is seeing the joy in people’s faces when I tell them Golden Home’s story or when they find a favorite scent — and that’s the only thing they buy now,” he says. “Or when I see people searching through a whole market just to find specific small businesses or Golden Home. It really means a lot to me.”
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