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Donna Belgrave creates luxury soy candles and gift boxes with the ‘Garden of England’ as her inspiration, using locally sourced materials, wherever possible. She started the company after her Event Management career ground to a halt due to COVID, in March 2020.
We had a great chat about lots of topics, including how to make candles, why scent is so personal, starting up a brand new business and why it’s ok if not everyone likes your products.
Listen in to hear Donna share:
- An introduction to her business and what she makes and sells (0:52)
- The catalyst for starting a new business (1:52)
- How and why she learnt to make candles (4:14)
- How long it took from the initial idea to opening the doors for business (5:56)
- Why you can’t wait for everything to be perfect (7:39)
- The candle making process and logistics (10:32)
- The sourcing process (16:24)
- Balancing the creative and business elements (18:26)
- The importance of thinking of your business as a business – not a hobby (20:57)
- Why you should accept offers of help (26:10)
- Why you shouldn’t be disheartened by competition, or by people not liking your products (27:40)
- Her number one piece of advice for other product creators (30:54)
Starting a products business during a pandemic - with Donna Belgrave, The Kentish Candle Company
Welcome to the, bring your product ideas to life podcast, practical advice, and inspiration to help you create and sell your own physical products. He is your host Vicki Weinberg.
Vicki Weinberg (00:00:22):
So today I'm talking to Donna Belgrave, Donna creates luxury soy candles and gift boxes with the Garden of England does have inspiration using locally sourced materials, wherever possible. She started the company after her Event Management career, ground to a halt due to COVID in March, 2020. So hi, Donna. Thank you so much for being here.
Donna Belgrave (00:00:41):
Hi. No, thank you for having me.
Vicki Weinberg (00:00:43):
You're welcome. So obviously I've given you a little introduction there, but could you also tell us a little bit about yourself and a bit about your business and what it is you're selling Please?
Donna Belgrave (00:00:53):
Yeah, Yeah, of course. And so, as you touched on, I primarily make hand poured luxury soy candles, as you said, I try to use botanicals and it's hard to use what experiences, but things that reminds people of sort of an English country Garden, as you can see, it is a widely known as the Garden of England. So that was kind of my inspiration behind a lot of the collection we use, try and use organic essential oils where possible for some of the sense that we liked to use that that is not possible, but we use locally sourced Find fragrance instead trying to support other small businesses were possible in terms of collaborations.
Donna Belgrave (00:01:36):
And we do some gift box that we were starting to do some gift boxes, which are also feature some other small local businesses such as distillery's and some chocolateers as well. So that's quite exciting, but I'm really keen to try and work, as I say, with other small businesses to try and support those as well as a time to grow my own.
Vicki Weinberg (00:01:56):
Thank you. So in the introduction, we said that you started in March, 2020, obviously that was less than a year ago. So, you know, it goes all the way. Do you want me to talk a little bit about, about at the beginning and I'm going to be interested in knowing why are you creating candles prior to prior to your previous career ending? Or, or was this something that can be started a new in March if you see what I mean? Yeah,
Donna Belgrave (00:02:24):
Yeah, sure. So I've always what my husband can attest to. You spent an obscene amount or ner on candles over the years. And I had to kind of, kind of borderline obsession with a home fragrance and all things
Candle related. And, and to be honest, to be brutally honest, it never crossed my mind that I, I would be able to create something like that. I was very much a fan of the bigger companies that did it. And I liked, you know, buying from other kind of small businesses in March last year, when M as you said to my Event career, I've been freelance as a self-employed over over 10 years of my whole, my whole sort of career, really, as soon as that disappeared, when events could obviously no longer happen, I had no real idea when I'd be able to get back to work or indeed you make any money.
Donna Belgrave (00:03:13):
To be honest, I wish it was a little bit more romantic than that, but unfortunately, this, this idea, it was really sort of born of necessity. I used it as a sort of coping mechanism for my mental health, a little bit to kind of own something that, that I had control over it and something that I could very much influence and being able to say control of. Umm, so that's where the idea of kind of came from my husband's sort of said to me, you know, you, you could do it, can't be overly difficult to kind of produce and to make it just, you know, you need the right idea, you need the right ingredients and the right kind of, sort of marketing around it to, to make it a product that people might like to buy. So after many, many, many hours of a research and trial and error and hundreds and hundreds of burnings of candles, we finally got to, to where we were when we want it to launch, which was M really exciting.
Donna Belgrave (00:04:07):
And actually it feels like a lifetime ago. It doesn't even, it feels a lot longer than almost a year ago, which is, is strange, obviously so much has happened since then. Yeah.
Vicki Weinberg (00:04:15):
It feels like you've squeezed a lot into this 10 month period. And so that you've done an awful lot because I had assumed wrongly obviously, which is why you shouldn't be a shame that he had been Candle making perhaps beforehand, but it just wasn't a Business. So how, how did you learn how to make them? Cause it sounds like you're self-taught as well, but it's not like if you could go along to the class as, because obviously that wasn't an option, I saw that
Donna Belgrave (00:04:37):
It was it that's it. So actually I'm where at first it kind of came from my, this was actually before lock-down. So I had an interest in an aroma therapy and all things kind of sort of scent related. And my mother-in-law actually bought me an, an aroma therapy course that Neal's yard in Khan garden, which I actually, I was lucky enough
to attend before lockdown happened literally maybe 10 days before I think, and that kind of kick started the real interest in the science, behind the aromas, in the blends and all that kind of thing. Cause the, the actual physical act of Candle making it, even though there's a lot of trial and error and there's a lot of science behind it, the physical process is actually fairly straightforward.
Donna Belgrave (00:05:18):
It's it gets quite M the steps are quite simple, but it's obviously the different elements behind each step that taking the time. But the, in terms of the sense that the aromas in the, the kind of reasoning behind the collection and that sort of sense that I had gone behind it, it was very much thanks to this aroma therapy class that I attended, as I say it just before. So there was, there were steps, they are kind of cogs were turning before a locked down, but as soon as a lockdown happened, that's kind of the kick up the bum that I need it to be like right now. So, you know, let's say up and talking about this, I can actually do it. This, this will be, this will be great. And that's a, I went off and began.
Vicki Weinberg (00:05:56):
Wow. That's yeah, that was really impressive. So how long roughly did it take you from, you know, look down Starting and you decided to give this a go to actually sort of open the doors for the business?
Donna Belgrave (00:06:08):
Yeah. So should we say we have a husband and I, and I like to give him some credit because he has been very, most of the one listening to me, moaning and whingeing and crying and thinking I can't do this. And then, you know, jumping up and down and when something actually works properly, he's very much a been there every step of the way we, we, I think we started really talking about it and me actually doing things. So I would say like in the beginning of lockdown, but actually we push the button to go life on the website or at the end of October, I think will be the only reason I remember the date so clearly is because one of my best friend's had a baby around the same time. So I remember it being, you know, it all kind of all had to handle so exciting stuff happening at the same time.
Donna Belgrave (00:06:53):
And actually one of the, one of the things I learnt very quickly is that I'm very much, I think naturally with the events management background, very much a planner I'm really quite detailed. I like things to have all my, you know, my ducks in a row before I commit to something before something goes live, so to speak. But actually with this, I had to, I, I chose to go live actually before I was really ready. 'cause everything, the essentials we're in place, you know, the product was there, the website we were ready, I think I was always making excuses and waiting and putting it off day by day. Cause it was a bit scared and a bit nervous, but actually, Yeah, come end of October. I thought, right. If I'm going to capture this, you know, Christmas market, I need to go live now.
Donna Belgrave (00:07:37):
And, and that's when we just did it.
Vicki Weinberg (00:07:39):
Yeah. And I think there's a lot to be said for that, but just going for it. 'cause I think if we were, if we waited for everything to be perfect or exactly as we wanted it, I think most of us would just keep putting things off and off because it, it, I think it's, don't you say it is, it could be, it can't be a real way. And you know, I mean, is it a
polite way? It could be a good way of procrastinating context to just kind of think of it,
Donna Belgrave (00:08:05):
This huge procrastinator I had never used to be. And I think again, whether it's a symptom of this bizarre situation, we've found ourselves in, but I was never a procrastinator. I was very much on the front foot. I was like, you know, let's grab this, let's do it, blah, blah, blah. And I think have almost been, so it could be because I actually, so I had my, my daughter and actually it was only had only come back off maternity leave for two weeks before locked down happened. So we had actually been off work for a year and then back to work for two weeks and then off again. So I was kind of forced into an extended maternity leave. So I think for my confidence in my perceived sort of ability as I suppose, but for myself, I was really quite, my confidence has been shaken quite a lot.
Donna Belgrave (00:08:50):
And I think that I was questioning myself a lot and I think that's why I just had to. Yeah, like you say, by the bullet, just go for it. Otherwise it would have just kept finding reasons as to why it wasn't ready or why I wasn't ready.
Vicki Weinberg (00:09:01):
Well done first if it's doing it and I get it out there. And so how have things gone in the first couple of months?
Donna Belgrave (00:09:07):
Yeah, good. I think to be honest, having Christmas was an absolute blessing. So fortunate, obviously it's, hand-in-hand, you know, candles and Christmas, I think it is it's that kind of season. It was just fantastic. So I was really grateful to have that as, as, as a catalyst as to why I think it was so successful in the first couple of months, I think a lot of research. And I think that the sense of the things that I was releasing at the time we had this sort of a seasonal specials each season will have a couple of sets that literally only run it for three months to kind of make it a little bit more limited, a little bit more interesting. Obviously Christmas candles are just, there are so many amazing ones That, that you can go with that we kind of had a bit of a kickstart in that sense.
Donna Belgrave (00:09:52):
So yeah, it was really lucky. I think it's been, it's been really popular at one point. And actually I think about two weeks before Christmas as yourself and I'm sure anybody else is listening with who used his Royal mail for any reason for a small business were tearing their hair out in the couple of weeks before Christmas, because they were so understanding to be so many delays and so many problems that it was becoming really stressful. And I did for a start to think, do I really want to be out in this level of stress there, but then, you know, if that was such a short looking back, it was such a short period of time that that was stressful for, and most of it has been so much fun and so positive that it kind of could get through those tricky bits.
Donna Belgrave (00:10:33):
Vicki Weinberg (00:10:33):
Okay. And how does it work with candles? I mean, what are sort of logistically, but I really don't know how to think about the process. So how do you get orders make the candles or did you make the candles and then sell what you have? And I'm so sorry if that's a silly question. Cause I really don't know
Donna Belgrave (00:10:47):
It's all, not at all. So the candles have a relatively good shelf life. So actually you, if you have a, a, a collection like mine, that's relatively limited, we have a cool collection of for scents. And so I basically, we have a good stock of those are the whole time. And then when I had a seasonal specials, such as a, at Christmas, we have the two, there was a Clementine and Clover and, and a festive for one, I would almost I'd make a lot smaller batches of those kind of as I was running because what, I didn't want to be left with loads of stock, you know, when Christmas had finished and I have to do like a January sale type of thing, I didn't really want to go down that road or kind of just wanted to try and get too, you know, finish the story at the end of Christmas. And that was that kind of thing, and then retire them for the year.
Donna Belgrave (00:11:29):
So yeah, you can kinda go down one or two roads. You can do what I do and kind of have a healthy stock of most things most of the time, or you could make to order it. But I am as a consumer, I personally just quite like it. If I can get something quite quickly, I suppose I'm quite impatient. So if I kind of, you know, if someone ordered something, I try, you know, and get it out same day or next day, ideally. So that's kind of the reasoning behind having some stock ready to go. Yeah.
Vicki Weinberg (00:11:56):
That makes sense. And is it also something where it's easier to make in batches?
Donna Belgrave (00:12:01):
Yeah, definitely. I'll for sure. Yeah. So if at any kind of a, maker's all have different different equipment and the different methods, you know, some of it, depending also obviously it is very scalable. So some bigger companies obviously have, you know, a vast, vast sort of a wax, you know, I'm a melting, uhm, sort of equipment going twenty-four seven, but obviously mine's a much, much smaller operation, but yes, absolutely making things in batches. I would carve out some time whether it was when my daughter was asleep. Like a, like now when we are recording this, just having an app that was good timing. Or when she's in bed at night, every evening from 7:00 PM, until I went to bed at 11 would be churning out, you know, candles I'm in the studio when my husband was getting his own way with the television.
Donna Belgrave (00:12:48):
So he was quite happy. But yeah, any, any spare hour I had that my daughter wasn't awake basically we spent Yeah. Turning out batches of, of candles.
Vicki Weinberg (00:12:57):
Okay. So what is it a long process to make candles? And I was just really fascinating. So I had no idea.
Donna Belgrave (00:13:02):
Yeah. And so, no, it's not actually it's time-wise is relatively quite short. So you, you can, you make it, you can make a batch se for example, a lunchtime on a Saturday night, for example, and they, they ideally needs sort of 24 to 48 hours to cure properly. So you can't really do much with them until at least, you know, a, a day or two later. So they are properly set and cute and steady and, And good to ship 'em. But after that, they are pretty, they're pretty good and say, they've got a good shelf life and stuff, but yeah, there they are pretty quick. It's just the curing that takes the time made King, for example, you know, you can make probably with, with the equipment they have at the minute, I could probably make maybe sort of 30 candles in an hour, I guess would be a good, a good estimate.
Vicki Weinberg (00:13:48):
I wow. That is much quicker than I thought
Donna Belgrave (00:13;50):
It was. Yeah. It is quick, let's say the hearing time and the space it takes to, to stack all these candles for curing is the, the trickier part, but the actual yeah. The, the manufacturing process, so to speak is pretty quick. Yeah. So this is the research behind it that takes the hours and months. Yeah.
Vicki Weinberg (00:14:09):
Yeah. And I guess also sourcing the sense as well. You must take some time. Yeah. Yeah,
Donna Belgrave (00:14:13):
Definitely. And as I say, when you start to, when it's just you, as you probably know, when you're on your own doing something, I say, I have my husband kind of bounce off, has a bit of a sounding board, but it's, it's really tricky to me. I found it quite tricky when to send it is such a personal thing. Like when you look at it, like if you
were going to be a perfume for somebody, unless you know them really well or know what they are already, like, its really tricky to almost, you know, guess what sends people like. So for me to narrow it down to these different cents was quite, I'm quite a tricky process. I found a lot tricky then I thought it would be when I first had the idea of doing it, I thought, Oh yeah, I'll just, you know, choose 4 cents.
Donna Belgrave (00:14:54):
I'll sell them. And that's that. But actually I changed my mind even on just the core collection. I changed my mind probably 20, 30 times before I actually decided when I was gonna go with, which sounds ridiculous. But
until you start doing it, it really hard to know,
Vicki Weinberg (00:15:09):
I guess, as well, given that it's sort of the tie in this all happened with the pandemic and it was, it wasn't like he could do research groups and focus groups and say to people, smell these and tell me what you think because you do it.
Donna Belgrave (00:15:19):
Would you say that I actually have, so I have two, two very close friends that live one that she moved away now, but one is still is very close to me. Literally four minutes walk down the road. And at one point I was actually making candles that test candles, sticking the cents on the bottom of the, the name, dropping them on her doorstep, getting her to burn them and label them, her favorite book without knowing what they are. And then I would go in and she leave them outside and I would go and pick them up against. And she was, she was so amazing. You know, we spent so much time helping and giving her feedback so that she was kind of my only apart from my husband, my only real sounding board. But if it was, it was crucial, I think to get an outsider's perspective on it, who hasn't been sniffing, these things, you know, all day everyday, you kind of go a bit nose blind yourself.
Donna Belgrave (00:16:08):
Vicki Weinberg (00:16:08):
Right. Yeah. I can imagine. And that was good. You were able to do that because it's yeah, it's a real challenge. Isn't it? Because the smell is something that we can't do a to Z, so it's really was really neat.
Donna Belgrave (00:16:18):
Yes. Yeah. That's the only thing, even in a virtual reality, you can't really Mmm. You can't do it in a certain thing yet. You are. Right,
Vicki Weinberg (00:16:24):
Right. And so how did you find this, The sourcing process? Because obviously he's got a sourcing sense. I've seen them, you have to source whacks and, and packaging.
Donna Belgrave (00:16:35):
I have been let go of, because there's so many options for every single element of it. I actually used the, the process of using kind of Kent as a, as an anchor to kind of try and be like, okay, you know, let's, every time you go and look at, think of the material that you need, you think of some glassware you need, or a Wix, all this stuff in the sense that the oils try. And obviously you always bring it back to like why you're choosing that one. Is it anything to do with it? You know, the Garden of England is it can, is it a local supply, like try and do
it. It helps narrow it down a little. 'cause obviously when you think of a jock or Candle wax to go in, there is literally hundreds of thousands of options.
Donna Belgrave (00:17:18):
I mean, like to me, so I, for example, when with the Amber Glass jars, because it reflects the sort of brewing heritage Mmm. And the hops and the old houses in Cannes. So I quite liked them, even though the jars I used, they all are recycled glass, but they are not from beer bottles. I'm the aesthetic is kind of, you know, ties in with that at the, the, the Brown be ABL to glass. Heritage was just quite nice. Uhm, we don't have such a kind of romantic story. Unfortunately with the WACS, the WACS is just, I had gone with a supplier who is based in Kent and the wax is, or its a soy wax, which is much better for the environment than any other type that I researched.
Donna Belgrave (00:17:60):
Mmm. So that's, that's the only sort of story with that one, but yeah, I have kind of tried to tie everything back in to that kind of local narrative, which is quite nice.
Vicki Weinberg (00:18:10):
Yeah. That's really nice. And it's nice as that you wanted to get it like, Oh and also like you say really useful to have a criteria because yeah. I imagine that glass jars, you can get so many places. Yeah. The choice you can.
Donna Belgrave (00:18:24):
Okay. So yeah, you do, you do.
Vicki Weinberg (00:18:27):
Yeah. I imagine that go two criteria made it really easy, not easy, but easier to see things down. So lets talk a little bit about what sort of be in as a business owner and obviously you've been self-employed at sound's for a while. Yeah. I guess this was a different kind of business because there has to be a balanced between you are actually doing the crafting in the making of your products and then the business side of things. So how, how has that working out so far?
Donna Belgrave (00:18:54):
Yeah. So what's really funny. And my, my husband absolutely grills me all the time about this is I did a, I did a business degree at uni that, I mean, you know, a long, long time ago, but that's what I did my degree and he just finds it hilarious because basically I am horrific at all things financial, I am amazing with a spreadsheet I'm which, you know, cause I think it comes from the event side of things, but awful with all things, you know, receipts and finance and I kinda everything's a bit jumbled and it will get there, but it's not really any kind of slip process. So my husband is very, very much the, the leader on that side of things and I'm so grateful to have him.
Donna Belgrave (00:19:37):
So in this respect, in this business, I'm definitely enjoying the, the creative sort of outlet side of it rather than the kind of, you know, day-by-day admin business side of it. I love having something that's mine that I have created that is that I am at the end of the day, the S the kind of, you know, so like the sole input into it, which is quite nice, but also there's obviously the other side of that. It's when you're wearing sort of the hearts of a, a business owner and trying to do everything else at the same time, that's also really tricky, you know, having my daughter and I've got, we've got two dogs.
Donna Belgrave (00:20:17):
And so it sounds silly, but you know, there are just like, it's another responsibility. It's another thing. It's another thing to add into the daily kind of schedule. So I found it so juggling, all of that side of things are really hard, actually a really hard, but I've learned it every day as we all are, you know, it's very much learning on the, on the job. And I think when you start a small business, you, you can't be expected to know everything at the beginning, unless you've, if you've never done it before, or even if you let me see, did a business degree, there is so much every day that I learned and I don't know yet. So I'm really interested know, I would love to see a crystal ball and see what all, you know, Bee I'll have learned it in a years time. It would be interesting. Yeah.
Vicki Weinberg (00:20:54):
No, I think, yeah, there was nothing like learning on the job is there?
Donna Belgrave (00:20:57):
Oh, no, for sure. And I think with this also, what I've actually found, one of the weirdest things is that I needed to start looking at my business as a business and not as a hobby because it kind of started off as a lot of people at, you know, you've got to see a or wherever and you type in, or, you know, so we can do, there are so many Candle makers. And I think not everybody wants to turn it into a really profitable business. Some people are really happy to keep it as a hobby that we briefly chatted about. It is great. If something can be profitable, but not actually, you know, you may not want to grow it into anything bigger, but actually I'd really need it to keep snapping out of the, Oh, this is kind of a sideline kind of a hobby actually at the moment right now, until I know when events are going to come back and I'm going to get some work again, this is very much my primary income.
Donna Belgrave (00:21:51):
Yeah. This is my job. So this is what I have to carve out time to do. It's not a sideline is not a hobby as it is very much my job. So its kind of focusing on a little bit every day, which is I found quite, quite tricky.
Vicki Weinberg (00:22:05):
Yeah. I think that is a way that is hard. And also I think as there, when you think of it as a business is so
much, there's so much to do to run a business, is aren't there there's stuff that you say it all the hats that you have to wear. It's a lot when I was like, if it's a hobby, there's obviously a lot less pressure.
Donna Belgrave (00:22:23):
Definitely. Yeah. I'm really lucky that my throughout all of this I'm without getting too bogged down in a way, I, I wasn't able to get any of the Grant's or any government support whatsoever. So I've literally had zero pennies support since March of last year. So the only income I've been able to bring in to the home is what I've made from the candle's, which has made it are a bit of pressure, probably mainly just from myself, but I want to do, you know, achieve something. I don't want to make a success of it, but I'm really lucky that my husband has a in, in a vertical has grown up job and you know, a proper job. So he can kind of keep a roof over our heads a, which is just incredible and I'm extremely grateful for, but also, you know, I need to remember that my, my role is, you know, that I bring in money to, which has kind of something is, is, has been really important to me sort of for my own confidence more than anything else I think.
Vicki Weinberg (00:23:20):
Yeah. And how are you sort of managing the balance between all the things that you have to be done? So for example, how much time do you spend making the candles versus selling the candles?
Donna Belgrave (00:23:32):
Yeah, I think so as I was saying, the, in the making is very much kind of, as in when I can I leave, you know, I carve out some time, whatever she's asleep or a nursery or wherever I'm the selling that the marketing because were not able to do face to face sales, like the, you know, the Christmas, Fair's the markets that Saturday craft fairs, all of that lovely side of face to face interaction. And that actually I'm really excited when we will be able to do that because I haven't had that. I've had to do a real crash course in, you know, online marketing and SEO and all of the kind of social media side of things, which I, I thought I had fairly good grasp of Jen really saw from the events side of things, but actually there so much about marketing a product versus an event that that's so different and I've learnt as you say, learn it, learning on the job.
Donna Belgrave (00:24:24):
And every day it has been, it's been a definite learning curve, but every day there's something else that comes up that I'm like, Oh, it didn't know that I need to do that. Or so, yeah, that's been quite quite interesting.
Vicki Weinberg (00:24:36):
And I guess you say it is harder as well now 'cause candles are one of those things that sometimes people would prefer to smell before they buy. Yeah,
Donna Belgrave (00:24:44):
Definitely. Its really hard. And then there's, you know, ways and I want to say too much actually, because
there's going to be a new product coming out to see in the, that that isn't quite ready. So I won't I'll wait till now, but that there is there's ways that you can kind of like help people to understand how something might or might smell. But yeah, it's without actually smelling it, like you say, picking up at a fair off a stall and kind of going, Oh yeah, that's great. I'll have five, it's a bit of a bit of a gamble, but so far it's all right. Got it. All right.
Vicki Weinberg (00:25:12):
You know, that's a really good and I had no idea that you could explain, smell about it, so I'd be able to smell something like that.
Donna Belgrave (00:25:17):
It really is going to be interesting to see how it works, but we shall see, we should say,
Vicki Weinberg (00:25:21):
Why is that something you were looking to do in the near ish? Yeah,
Donna Belgrave (00:25:24):
Yeah, yeah. It is in the, in the spring. So yeah.
Vicki Weinberg (00:25:28):
Oh, so I'm thinking maybe by the time this episode goes live perhaps as a child, it will be available. We will be available. And if it is, you have to make sure you let me know so we can not tell people. But yeah, definitely. I definitely won't say that would be amazing if we can, if we can share that with people. I'm really, Yeah. I'm really intrigued. How do you stay? How do you do that? So yeah, please do, please do update me if that was before this goes out for sure. So just a few more questions to finish up if that's okay. So what are some of the things, so we were coming back to sort of managing the business sides of the craft inside or is there anything that you've learnt that you think would be useful for, for people to know?
Donna Belgrave (00:26:10):
Yeah, definitely. So I think one of the things I've always been really bad off as accepting help. Umm, so accept any help or any relevant help when its offered, whether that's, what if you're making wherever you are building doing, offering, if somebody's, even if somebody's doesn't really have any M experience in that exact thing, there might be people that have been like, Oh, well I didn't, you know, I sold different products, but actually, you know, so some of the stuff of course is over so they can give you some input. So it don't just because someone doesn't for example sell and they make table's for example, it, it might be that they have some relevant experience and stuff. So accept help. Even if it comes from the advice comes from places where you might initially think of that's no help to me to sort of be open, to accepting, help from places where yeah.
Donna Belgrave (00:27:00):
You might not expect it to come from. I think would be, would definitely be one. And the other one I've definitely felt quite heavily before Christmas is that competition can be really healthy, but don't sort of obsess. I I've often would find myself sort of checking, you know, other kind of a company that started
around the same time, the same time as mine. And I'd be, you know, seeing, Oh how many followers? So they have, what if they posted stay like checking, checking, checking in. And actually, you know, some of my friend's would say to me, it's, it's, it's great to keep an eye on it. And B you know, it was a bit of healthy competition to keep you motivated and keep you sort of on the right track, but don't get sidetracked by it. It don't be, you know, disheartened, if you, if, you know, I don't know, got a new product out that you hadn't thought of, of what they've got more followers than you are or whatever, like what that company is doing, what those people are doing is, is amazing for them.
Donna Belgrave (00:27:52):
And what you're doing is amazing for you and there's room for all of us. And that's something I've sort of really hard to work on and, and sit with, but I'm definitely there now. I think for Christmas, that was quite tricky. Cause it was so competitive, but someone said to me is a good bit of advice was, you know, you walked down the bread aisle and Sainsburys and look how many companies make bread, like there's room for all of us, you know, we all have different offerings and that's, that's a good thing. That's a good thing for consumers. So I have to kind of remember that sometimes
Vicki Weinberg (00:28:20):
I have to ask it and as, yeah, that's a really good perspective actually.
Donna Belgrave (00:28:24):
Yeah. Yeah. It was healthy. I think it's time to remember it from that side of things.
Vicki Weinberg (00:28:28):
Yeah. And I guess I will say that every, there is definitely room for everyone. 'cause, I mean, we have lots of things that are sent in particular. It's so personal, isn't it? So it's your personal phone,
Donna Belgrave (00:28:36):
You know, and it's, and it's also with, with Candle making, I think that as to, should I say it with Candle buying it rather than Candle making you have an idea about some people might buy Candle cars, they liked the way it looks. They almost literally don't care what it smells like. The way it looks is the most important thing to them where somebody else, you know, you could send it to them on a bait being Khan, but they, they, they burn it and they really get in the sense that is very much something that they, you know, create in their homes. They have lots of things in their homes to kind of create an atmosphere that's very important to them and they actually care more about that and how it looks. So it kind of nice to have, to be able to kind of try and play to both, both sides a bit, which is nice.
Vicki Weinberg (00:29:22):
Yeah. And also, I guess its also a person with a sec in the sense that I, I imagine that you can have five Christmas candles, different Candle maker's and to someone or they would all be very different even though they might not be seeing that difference. If that makes sense.
Donna Belgrave (00:29:37):
Apparently people have, like you say it because it's so personal someone you might burn three uhm, of arguably on paper at the same cents in front of somebody. So three candlemakers could have made a, you know, for example a, An Clementine and Clover or whatever a Candle, but every now and nobody knows what's what another candle maker, what blend oils they have used. You don't know where they always have come from or wax they've used it, all of these different elements, even the wet and the container material and everything makes a difference in, it all adds in to this cocktail. So you can say, you can burn these three candles that are, that are called the same thing, but actually they are completely different. And that person smelling them will sort of have preferences in their own, you know, brains, the receptors and much more, you know, they might hook onto or are they like really sweet smells.
Donna Belgrave (00:30:26):
So if one of them as a sweeter, more cinnamony smell, they will go for that one kind of thing. So it's, you know, even though I might adore something like maid is really risky and worrying and scary when you sell it and go all, Please like it, you know, because I love it. So you open it, not, you know, not everyone will like everything, but you can only hope that you've made something that enough people like that.
Vicki Weinberg (00:30:46):
Yeah. And as you say, the nice thing as well was that does mean that there is room for everyone, which is yeah,
Donna Belgrave (00:30:51):
Definitely. Yeah. I mean there is. So it definitely is.
Vicki Weinberg (00:30:54):
Yeah. And so before we finish up, Donna, what would be your number one piece of advice to anyone else wanting to start selling products?
Donna Belgrave (00:31:04):
I think my number one piece of advice would be, I did touch on it earlier, but I think it really would be, don't wait until every little piece of the puzzle lines up. If your, if your dream of your aim is something that you want to do, don't wait for everything to fall into place because sometimes it just won't sometimes you have to those pieces of the puzzle aren't even available yet. You know, you, you were constantly learning and
evolving and your idea, your, your product, your service, or whatever might as mine has. It might constantly change and Bee be making, you know, minor tweaks the whole way. Like my, on my website, my packaging, and a couple of other aspects of my products have changed a lot since I actually launched in October.
Donna Belgrave (00:31:45):
Like I, I found a better way to package things. And so it kind of, I suppose in a nutshell was don't don't think you've got This, everything in a nutshell wrap top ready to launch it, like perfect, you know, set in stone M be able to kind of have the flexibility to be like, okay, well, you know, kind of roll with the punches too a little bit and have the sort of, you know, the foresight to, to think actually this might need to change what I might need to change that or, or whatever. Yeah. Don't wait for it all to be perfectly ready to roll because it, it, it wouldn't be, and it doesn't need to be. Yeah,
Vicki Weinberg (00:32:21):
No, it was brilliant. And vice thank you so much. Not at all a pleasure. Well, thank you for everything for all of that you've shared today and all that.
Donna Belgrave (00:32:29):
I can talk about it. And I think my husband we'll just be pleased, but it's not him having to listen to it for one.
Vicki Weinberg (00:32:36):
Right? Yeah. It was fantastic. Thank you so much. And I'm really to see and what you do in the next couple of months, because yeah. As you said, you have businesses. So, you know, so we, you know, relative reality days and yeah,
Donna Belgrave (00:32:47):
It would be in its infancy. So yeah, there's lots of things in the pipeline. We've got some really exciting some products coming out in the spring, I would say in a, in a sort of, probably six to eight weeks time. So we'll keep everybody posted
Vicki Weinberg (00:32:59):
It. Definitely. G thank you so much, Donna.
Donna Belgrave (00:33:01):
Vicki Weinberg (00:33:04):
Hi, thank you so much for listening as always. I'd absolutely love to know what you thought of this episode. Please do remember to rate and review the show and also most importantly subscribe. So you don't miss out in any future episodes. And as a reminder, I release a new episode every single Friday. So take care and
forward to speaking to you again, then.