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Xu, Mei

Xu mei 2020Mei Xu is a Chinese American entrepreneur, woman business leader, and the Founder of two global lifestyle brands, Chesapeake Bay Candle, a wellness- inspired home fragrance company, and Blissliving Home, a culturally inspired home textiles company. Xu is also Founder & CEO of meixu.com, an online community and marketplace for women entrepreneurs.

Xu established Chesapeake Bay Candle in 1994, and grew it into a global manufacturer of home fragrance products sold through major U.S. retailers including Target, Kohl’s, Bed, Bath & Beyond; on Amazon.com; and enjoyed by millions of people around the world. In 2011, Xu added to her manufacturing facilities in China and Vietnam, and opened a US factory in Maryland, reshoring more than 100 jobs. In September 2017, Xu sold the company to Newell Brands, adding Chesapeake Bay Candle to the consumer product giant’s $14 billion portfolio of other iconic brands (Rubbermaid, Sharpie Markers, Elmer’s Glue) that have been household mainstays for generations.

Xu has an inspirational personal story and journey to entrepreneurship. Born in Hangzhou, China in 1967, Xu came of age during China’s transformation to a more open, market-oriented economy following Chairman Mao’s death. At age 12, Xu was selected to attend a language immersion boarding school set up by the Chinese Government to train diplomats for Foreign Service. She continued her education at Beijing Foreign Studies University, but her goal of entering the diplomatic corps was never realized, as she, like all college graduates of 1989, the year of the Tiananmen Square Uprising, was sent for “re-education” to a work assignment in the countryside. After one year, in a bold and definite move, Xu quit to move to the U.S. to begin graduate school at the University of Maryland College Park. After completing her master’s degree, Xu moved to New York to work for a high-tech, medical company that exported equipment to China. Her “aha moment” happened as she was shopping one day in Bloomingdale’s and noticed the abundance of sophisticated, contemporary ready-to-wear apparel compared to the scarcity of modern, home decor offerings. Inspired, she returned to rejoin her then-husband in their home near the Chesapeake Bay, and began her candle-making venture, using Campbell’s soup cans as molds. Her lucky mistake was forgetting to add a key ingredient to create the “normal” satin wax candle finish, but this omission led to Xu’s breakthrough and signature design – a unique, mottled texture.

Xu’s entrepreneurial success story has been reported on by major news organizations, including the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, NPR, the Baltimore Sun, CNBC, MSNBC, among others.

Xu is an engaging storyteller whose personal journey to entrepreneurship inspires others. She is frequently invited to speak at universities, including the Wharton Business School, the Robert S. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland, Georgetown University, Tsinghua University in Beijing; by business groups, including Fortune’s Most Powerful Women and Horasis Global Visions Community; and government agencies, including the White House, where she was a panelist at the “Insourcing American Jobs” forum hosted by President Obama. Xu’s presentation topics and areas of expertise include: women’s global economic empowerment, entrepreneurship, Made in America/re-shoring initiatives, consumer lifestyle trends, the importance of a global education, and business development in China. Xu has also shared her story of entrepreneurial success with the host of the Ted Radio Hour and “How I Built This” Guy Raz: NPR

Xu’s business achievements have repeatedly been recognized by prominent organizations. She has been honored by, amongst others, Smart CEO with the Brava Award; the World Trade Center Institute with the Maryland International Business Leadership Award; the Asian American Chamber of Commerce with the Business Leader of the Year Award; the Asian Women in Business Organization with the Entrepreneurial Leadership Award; the Washington Business Journal with the Women Who Mean Business Award; the Maryland Daily Record with the Most Admired CEO Award; and the University of Maryland with the Philip Merrill College of Journalism Distinguished Alumnus Award. Xu was also inducted into the Enterprising Women Hall of Fame and named twice by Inc. Magazine as CEO of one of America’s Fastest Growing Privately Held Companies.

Xu plays an active role in community, philanthropic and civic organizations, serving on boards of both for-profit and non-profit organizations, including: Sandy Spring BanCorp Inc. (2012-2015); the University of Maryland, Baltimore Foundation; Meridian International; the World Affairs Council; the Halcyon Incubator Fund that invests in socially impactful ventures; and SoGal Ventures, the first female-led millennial venture capital fund investing in diverse entrepreneurs in the U.S. and Asia. Xu is a member of the Committee of 200 (C200), an invitation-only organization of the world’s most successful women entrepreneurs and corporate innovators; the Aspen Institute’s Society of Fellows; and the U.S. China Business Council. She is a delegate to Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Summit; a mentor with the Fortune/U.S. State Department Global Women’s Mentoring Partnership; and a WEConnect Founding International Ambassador.

Xu and her family live in Bethesda, Maryland.

Mei Xu & Co. LLC


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Women of the Year Award

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