After her daughter Tiffany was born with Spina bifida and had to undergo several surgeries that made skin sensitive, Annya Brown's interest for gentle, natural home-made products began. Six years later, Natural Annie Essentials, her brand of eco-friendly vegan candles, has had viral moments on TikTok and has nearly 30,000 followers on Instagram.
“We’ve been seeing so many people from all parts of Connecticut coming to our shop,” said Brown, a Bridgeport resident originally from St. Ann, Jamaica.
She caught the attention of a wide audience when one of her TikTok videos went viral this past November. The video follows a popular trend of using a remix of Harry Styles’ “Watermelon Sugar” and SEB’s “Seaside” to introduce oneself on TikTok. In the video, Brown asks “Where are my Connecticut people?” and then writes that she’s from Bridgeport. The video got more than 29,000 likes.
After opening her account in 2020, Brown has found that TikTok brings more local customers to her shop, while Instagram focuses more on the national audience. The TikTok account @naturalannieessentials had around 500 followers and within three days since the video posted it got over 10,000, said Brown.
Currently, the brand has nearly 12,000 followers on TikTok.
While the social media fame is new, Natural Annie Essentials is not new to the market. Back in 2015, Brown opened her Etsy shop where she sold skin care and bath and body products. Then, after receiving an aromatherapy certification, she pivoted the business to soy candles.
Brown is also focused on having a family-oriented business. The majority of her team is made up of family members and her daughters, husband and mom are often shown in her TikTok videos.
"For me that was really important, being able to share this part of myself with my family and doing business together," said Brown.
The pandemic did not slow Brown’s business — in fact it grew during this time. In November 2020, Natural Annie Essentials moved its operations from Brown’s house to a studio at 1313 Connecticut Ave. in Bridgeport.
“In 2020 alone, our business grew over 200 percent, it was that wild,” said Brown. “We went from getting probably say 20 orders per week to over 200.”
In the near future, Brown is also looking to open a brick and mortar shop in Bridgeport.
"It's been an amazing journey, just being able to connect with so many different stores and getting our products out there," said Brown.
Get your friends together and book your next event at the NaturalAnnie Essentials Candle Bar!