Shantell Jennings was born in Baltimore, Maryland. Although she noted that Atlanta was where she was raised, Shantell grew her love for art in her hometown’s historically Black community theater, Arena Players Incorporated. In her younger years, Shantell would spend her summers and holidays learning how to act, dance, sing, and write. Her passion for all types of art forms runs deep, but what captured Shantell’s heart the most was the art of writing. When talking about why she loves writing so much, Shantell said, “Being able to capture the unspoken words between individuals that experience the same stories every day seems to be my biggest inspiration.”
Shantell attended Penn State University and was determined to find her path to success after graduating. After spending seven years working at the “biggest hotel chain in the industry,” she set out to rekindle the artist within her and taught herself a new skill. Eventually, this led Shantell to candle-making and opening a small business called Smell’em Candle Co.
Smell’em Candle Co. is based both online and in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Shantell tells us that “We are looking to make quite a big impact on self-care through aroma and atmosphere.” Committed to growing her clientele and building a strong online footprint, Smell’em Candle Co. is on track to open a storefront in 2026.
In addition to running a candle shop, Shantell is also a spoken word artist who has been featured on a poet’s Grammy award-winning album. Luckily, Shantell has been able to creatively combine both her love of poetry and candle-making into Smell’em Candle Co.
Shantell credits PeopleFund for providing her with the financial and educational assistance that was needed to create a solid foundation for her small business. With the help she has received, Shantell is able to move forward with growing her candle shop and bringing her dreams to life.
Some words of advice that Shantell would like to give to other entrepreneurs of color is to “be unapologetically black or brown in all ventures of business.” She encourages business owners to view setbacks, especially ones that people of color face, as an opportunity to open a bigger and better door down the road.