mei-xu-lr-3Mei Xu was not supposed to be the President and Owner of two companies, plus a foundation. She wasn't supposed to take a simple idea and turn it into a multi-million dollar platform. No. She was supposed to be a diplomat from China, what she was trained to do. Thankfully for us, she listened to her heart and filled a gap in our country's home décor industry by creating Chesapeake Bay Candle and Blissliving Home.

Graduating from college in 1992 during the recession (after the Gulf War), Mei went to work for a high-tech medical equipment company in Manhattan. Whenever she could, Mei would window shop along the streets of the city. Deprived in China of such shopping experiences, Mei soon became an expert at spotting the most unique of items. She happened to notice a huge disparity between fashion and home décor. Two years later, feeling no connection to her career, Mei quit her job. She not only had the support of her husband, David, but she had his time and devotion, as well. David, too, quit his job to help Mei follow her passion for interior lifestyle and design - the true driving force behind the establishment of the company. So began this endeavor in 1994, where Mei and David created a line of modern and well tailored home décor.

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It all started with a candle ... a very special candle. Missing the opportunity to participate in the New York International Gift Fair, Mei and David instead took sample candles that they made to a show in Charlotte, NC. Talk about overnight success! They walked away with $70,000 in orders - just from their sample candles. Of course, these candles weren't ordinary by any stretch. They were beautifully designed to glow like lanterns.

Another life changing experience - in February of 1995 after returning from Germany’s Ambiente consumer goods fair, Mei and David turned their home into a candle design studio. They couldn't wait to start applying designs to their candles. They experimented with vibrant color pallets and provocative fragrance pairings – like Lavender and Lemongrass. They created a presentation of stylish candles that were unparalleled in the American market at the time. Developing satin textures, where no two candles were alike. And utilizing colors, wax and fragrance in their natural state - without adding chemicals.

Mei says of her timing,
It was just intuition. Contemporary lifestyle hadn't found its way into the marketplace.
orange-energy-hf.thumbnailMei arranged appointments with buyers of the most renowned retailers in the country, including Nordstrom. Buyers were awe struck. No one had seen candles in such colors and complex fragrances. Soon, the candles were dressed up with jewelry and other fashion accessories - to truly evoke a lifestyle. In 2007, the company hit $60 million in sales. Today, you can find Chesapeake Bay Candles in Target, Pier 1, Kohl's, JCPenny and Ikea.
People want an experience ... they want to be connected to a product emotionally. And fragrance is powerful.
fw08_home_mainAnd as for the coming about of Blissliving Home: something as everyday as hotel accommodations brought the inspiration to Mei. As she traveled the world, staying in many hotels, she was tired of the standard stiff, white sheets. In fact, she always packed her own. So in 2005, everything came to fruition. The Blissliving concept was the answer to the modern home - pieces organically put together; luxurious, but affordable. Bedding to please your senses. Each piece crafted of fine cotton from the Orient, sumptuous silk from India and China or beautiful cotton jacquard from Italy. And Blissliving Home is a green company. Look for a new blend of cashmere/bamboo in their new Fall throw that keeps you cool in the summer and warm in the Winter. Mei is influenced by everything in her path - from fashion to handbags to contemporary art and more.

Mei works seven days a week, surrounding herself with passionate people. And though she'll probably never retire, she trusts her staff implicitly, making the goal of someday working four days a week, instead of seven, attainable. Mei and David spend time with their two young boys, volunteering in the classroom. In fact, Mei's third venture was inspired by how children learn the way of the world at an early age. She set up the Mei Xu Cultural Exchange Foundation which supports schools in the U.S. and in China to allow children the opportunity to learn foreign languages at early ages to acquire a new way of thinking. She says,
Learning foreign languages and foreign cultures will enable our children to succeed in the global economy of tomorrow and will make our world a better place.
Having spoken at Ladies Who Launch events twice, Mei knows a thing or two about launching successful businesses. To those who have similar aspirations, she says that you have to be willing to give as much as you get.

So what's next, Mei ... furniture? Seems to me that would make a great fit for the perfectly styled home.

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