Nahom Petros ’21 is a busy guy. He’s not only a fourth-year Doctor of Pharmacy & MBA dual degree student at Shenandoah University, but also the co-founder and co-owner of a new business, Sol Brothers Candle Company, which produces handmade candles.
Petros studies at Shenandoah’s Inova Center for Personalized Health location in Fairfax, Virginia, which is situated on the same campus as the hospital where he was born, and where he has worked for the past five years in the pharmacy department.
He established Sol Brothers with Elliott DeBose, with whom he’s been friends since age 8. DeBose is busy, too, balancing a full-time job and studying for a master’s degree in finance at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.
“It works out since we are both busy, so one person isn’t working harder than the other,” Petros said. “We spend all of our ‘off’ time and weekends developing products, mapping out marketing plans, and sending out shipments. It is honestly a lot of work, but it is completely worth it!”
The friends serve as the company’s only employees, so even though they both have a hand in almost every aspect of Sol Brothers, they generally split business responsibilities. “The roles I have gravitated to have been supply chain management, advertising, and technological implementations like adding a smart QR code to the candle so people can go directly to our website and social media sites,” Petros said. He noted that they have bigger plans for the tech element of the company in the future.
“Elliott is in charge of R&D [research and development],” Petros added, noting that DeBose’s passion is candle making. “We purchase various different fragrances that we think are promising. We then create proprietary blends – a lot of testing goes on here to determine the proper ratios. Then we combine the blend with our sourced 100% soy wax. Each candle is then hand-poured, sits to dry, then we hand-label them all.”
The Black-owned company, which launched on Aug. 7, currently produces four scents, and sold out of almost 200 candles in 26 hours. Petros attributed the initial wave of sales to the strong network of people who believe in not only the business, but him and DeBose. “They know that we would not advertise and sell a product that we didn’t truly believe in,” he said. The candles are now restocked, and the product line is expanding with two new fall scents.
With every sale, the pair hopes to add something special to each customer’s life, particularly in a tough year for many. Their intent is spelled out in the company’s name. “Sol comes from the Latin root meaning ‘sun,’ Petros said. “Our company slogan and our company goal are both to ‘Spread the light.’ We mean that in every sense of the word. We want to spread the light physically by selling candles, emotionally by the unique motivational/inspiring quotes on every candle, and we hope to spread light through philanthropy work once we are able to grow the brand.”
The combination of business and healing attracted Petros to Shenandoah.
Shenandoah’s School of Pharmacy has a track record for being ahead of the curve with technological implementation in the classroom as well as the advanced curriculum. So, for me, it was a no-brainer to pick SU’s School of Pharmacy. As for the MBA portion of my degree, I always wanted to study business as well. I was a marketing major at VCU for undergrad before realizing that I wanted to serve patients. It wasn’t until I got to SU that I saw the opportunity to combine my call to healthcare with my passion for business development.”
Nahom Petros ’21
He plans on using both his business and pharmacy skills in the future, too. “I am applying to post-doctoral fellowships that specialize in pharmaceutical marketing,” he said. “I want to educate patients on new therapies that can improve their quality of life.”