Inter Miami CF’s McCarthy business has smell of success

By Dylan Butler | Posted 2 years ago

John McCarthy’s job is to put out fires on the soccer field, that last line of defense to make sure opponents don’t put the ball in the back of the net. 


Off the field, the Inter Miami CF goalkeeper likes to light fires, starting a candle business with his wife out of the garage of his apartment in downtown Fort Lauderdale. 


JJ Candles Company, named after John and his wife Jackie Cammarata, launched on Aug. 1 and he estimates they’ve already sold 600 candles. 


“We’re a little blue-collar business trying to make a dream happen,” McCarthy told ODSB Sports


They’re starting small — Jackie processes and packs the orders, while John wicks the candles, pours the wax, melts the wax and pours in the fragrances. 


That’s all done from his garage, which houses a pair of large melting pots, two tables, and boxes of wax, jars and tins. 


“We’re hoping to make a little business out of it. If one day I’m on Shark Tank, awesome,” McCarthy jokes. “We want to see it grow and we want to have a sustainable way that we can continue it for a long time.”


Jackie takes care of the website design and digital marketing, it’s her day job. And at John’s day job, he tries to convince professional soccer players they need some good-smelling candles in their life. The 29-year-old goalkeeper from Philadelphia has gotten good feedback there, too. 


Teammates Indiana Vassilev and Lewis Morgan are repeat customers, while goalkeeping coaches Mark Mason and Sebastian Saja and Tyler Peeler, the equipment manager, have been supportive.


“Phil [Neville] and the coaches even said the candles smelled really good, the whole hallway smelled nice and they weren’t even lit,” he said. 


There’s been little advertising to date and the interest has been mostly word of mouth. Although McCarthy has a pretty good idea how to maybe help the business go viral. 


“David hasn't been around for a while so I thought, do I just go throw a candle in his office so when he comes back, there's just a candle sitting there and like put like a little note, like, from, your favorite goalkeeper John McCarthy or something like that,” McCarthy said of Inter Miami co-owner and global icon Davie Beckham.


“At some point I have to go in there and be like David, let’s take a picture and put it up, I think we have to put it not only on my Instagram, but your Instagram as well.”


Candles weren’t the original small-business plan. It was actually bagels, something the Northeast couple — Jackie is from Long Island — say are in short supply in Southern Florida. 


“We started doing homemade bagels, two to three times a week we're making our own bagels,” McCarthy said. “We were like this is cool, but we’re not going to be flowing bagels out of our apartment in downtown Fort Lauderdale.”


The couple shifted its focus to candles, something they both love. They started slow when the COVID-19 global pandemic halted the MLS season and forced everyone to work from home. 


McCarthy estimates they made about 200-300 candles before Jackie’s appendix burst. An infection followed and she spent the next two months recovering. 


The business went on a hiatus. 


It picked up again in early August, after they did their homework on the candle-making industry, which McCarthy said took a hit during COVID-19 because one of the symptoms for those who test positive is a loss of their sense of smell. 


“We looked into it and a lot of candle companies were using 2-3 percent fragrance,” he said. “We did a little research and we decided let's make sure that we have 8 percent fragrance in all of our candles so no matter what the candles are gonna smell good for you.”


There’s four year-round scented candles — Clean cotton, black sea, bakery, vanilla. And they add in seasonal scents, like pumpkin souffle and apple harvest as well as sweater weather, a flannel-type smell that will also be used for the winter. 


They also use soy wax, which is environmentally friendly, non toxic and burns cleaner. 


The company’s logo is also simple, yet meaningful. 


“There's two lines, a thick line, a thin line and a line going through it, it means through thick and thin because the journey is not going to be a straight arrow,” McCarthy said. “You’re not going to rise to the top without any dilemmas or errors or learning curves so that that was one of the reasons why we chose the logo.”


Parallels can certainly be made to Inter Miami. McCarthy began his second season with the club as its starting goalkeeper, but Dutch ‘keeper Nick Marsman joined the club in July and immediately took over as the starter.


It’s also been a rollercoaster season for the club, which made a late-season push to get into playoff contention, but lost six straight games to fall further from the postseason-chasing pack. 


“There's no straight road, there's no team in any sport that you can say perfect season. It doesn’t happen like that,” McCarthy said. “There’s no business that you just go perfect business, there's always some flaws at some point. You got to put the time and the effort in and you also have to understand that there's going to be some downs and there's going to be some ups.”

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