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Here's how the Baltimore-based entrepreneur infuses her jet-setting spirit into a signature candle collection.

By Kelsey Mulvey
March 09, 2021
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Credit: Courtesy of Dani Greene

Have you ever wondered how to turn your dreams of owning your own business into a reality? We can help. Each week, as part of our American Made series, we showcase female entrepreneurs—as well as their quality, handmade goods—and share their best advice related to starting, maintaining, and growing your own business.

As we approach the one-year mark of spending an unprecedented amount of time at home, the mere thought of jetting off to another country (let alone taking a vacation) seems like a distant memory. But Danielle "Dani" Greene proves the wanderlust spirit is alive and well with Passport Seven, her line of travel-inspired candles. Thanks to her brand, it's possible to enjoy your favorite destinations without leaving your home.

What Lit a Fire

Greene's story is proof that everything happens for a reason. After receiving her graduate degree from Temple University in 2010, she accepted a government job, but due to the economic recession, Greene was laid off and eventually moved back to her hometown of Baltimore. Eager to fill up her newfound free time, she tried several hobbies—and candle making stuck. "For my first international trip, I went to Africa by myself as a gift from my grandparents," she shares. "During that trip, I spent some time trying different oils and I remember that scent [so well]. So, I experimented with some of the oils I brought back from Africa."

Greene realized that she could turn this hobby into a business once her friends and family members started asking for their own candles. "I was telling one of my girlfriends about my idea and she goes, 'Just do it,'" Greene remembers. "That was the mindset I had when I started." Greene enrolled in business classes and launched Passport Seven in 2012.

dani greene passport 7 items

Meet Passport Seven

With 22 scents and counting, Passport Seven's offerings take you from the Great Pyramids of Giza (from $22, passport7.com) to London's Big Ben clock tower (from $22, passport7.com) with the strike of a match. When developing her scents, Greene drew inspiration from her extensive research (future travel planning, if you will) and favorite vacation memories. "I traveled to Thailand a few years ago and had no idea it was known for its coconuts," she says. "Everywhere I went smelled amazing; I wanted to take [that scent] home with me." The result? Phi Phi Island (from $22, passport7.com), which features notes of toasted coconut, jasmine, violet, lavender, and orange flowers. With Eiffel Tower (from $22, passport7.com), she wanted to bottle up the City of Love's romantic energy. And, what better way to do so than with a warm, familiar vanilla? "It makes you want to hug yourself," adds Greene.

While her transportive scents are the main attraction, Greene is also proud of how the candles are made. Not only does she use all Americans vendors—making a trip around the world feel a little closer to home—but she also uses natural ingredients. "When I started my business course, I had to think about what made my brand different," she explains. "What was my niche? I wanted to be environmentally friendly. At the time, people were making candles with paraffin wax. So, I thought if I could [use] soy wax, I could tap into [a new] market and reach a larger audience."

As a sustainable alternative to paraffin, soy wax creates less soot and emits fewer toxic chemicals. Passport Seven's candles also feature all-natural essential oils, creating scents that'll receive Mother Nature's seal of approval. As a bonus, each candle is hand-poured to offer a clean, long-lasting burn, and a robust scent. "I do get some help from my cousin and sister, so I'd say I hand-pour 97 percent of the candles myself," Greene adds.

A Warm Homecoming

Though Passport Seven places an emphasis on exploring the world around you, Greene's new Charm City collection proves there's really no place like home. The two scent collection was designed to juxtapose the boldness of Baltimore with the city's softer side. With notes of amber, vanilla, cardamom, and clove leaf, the collection's signature Charm City candle (from $22, passport7.com) has a special place in Greene's heart. "I wanted to pay homage to my dad," she explains. "When I think of home, I think of my father, who raised me and my three siblings as a single father. You don't hear that that often, so I wanted to do an ode to him." Next month, Greene is slated to launch the second scent of her Charm City collection, which pays tribute to her grandmother. "My hope is when people burn this collection, they feel at home and at peace," she says.

The Future of Passport Seven

With a rotating list of best-sellers—it's impossible to choose just one scent—Greene has already accomplished so much. But, for the Passport Seven founder, she's just getting started. From partnering with a hotel to create a signature scent to selling her current inventory at a major retailer, Greene is confident the next chapter is going to be a big one. But while she's ready to take her business to the next level, Greene says that no two founders' journeys look the same—and it's important to define your own success story. "There's no one way to get to your destination or to run a business," she says. "It's easy to get caught up in other people's success stories, but just because you haven't reached your goals or a certain sales number doesn't mean you're not successful. We have to define success on our own and find out what works best for us."

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