**Please remember to rate and review the podcast – it really helps others to find it.**

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)

USEFUL RESOURCES:

Kentish Candle Company 

Kentish Candle Company on Facebook

Kentish Candle Company on Instagram

LET’S CONNECT

Find me on Instagram

Work with me 

Transcript
Speaker:

b Welcome to the, bring your product ideas to life

Speaker:

podcast, practical advice, and inspiration to help you create and

Speaker:

sell your own physical products. He is your host Vicki

Speaker:

Weinberg. So today I'm talking to Donna Belgrave, Donna creates

Speaker:

luxury soy candles and gift boxes with the Garden of

Speaker:

England does have inspiration using locally sourced materials, wherever possible.

Speaker:

She started the company after her Event Management career, ground

Speaker:a halt due to COVID in March,:Speaker:

hi, Donna. Thank you so much for being here.

Speaker:

Hi. No, thank you for having me.

Speaker:

You're welcome. So obviously I've given you a little introduction

Speaker:

there, but could you also tell us a little bit

Speaker:

about yourself and a bit about your business and what

Speaker:

it is you're selling Please?

Speaker:

Yeah, Yeah, of course. And so, as you touched on,

Speaker:

I primarily make hand poured luxury soy candles, as you

Speaker:

said, I try to use botanicals and it's hard to

Speaker:

use what experiences, but things that reminds people of sort

Speaker:

of an English country Garden, as you can see, it

Speaker:

is a widely known as the Garden of England. So

Speaker:

that was kind of my inspiration behind a lot of

Speaker:

the collection we use, try and use organic essential oils

Speaker:

where possible for some of the sense that we liked

Speaker:

to use that that is not possible, but we use

Speaker:

locally sourced Find fragrance instead trying to support other small

Speaker:

businesses were possible in terms of collaborations.

Speaker:

And we do some gift box that we were starting

Speaker:

to do some gift boxes, which are also feature some

Speaker:

other small local businesses such as distillery's and some chocolateers

Speaker:

as well. So that's quite exciting, but I'm really keen

Speaker:

to try and work, as I say, with other small

Speaker:

businesses to try and support those as well as a

Speaker:

time to grow my own.

Speaker:

Thank you. So in the introduction, we said that you

Speaker:started in March,:Speaker:

year ago. So, you know, it goes all the way.

Speaker:

Do you want me to talk a little bit about,

Speaker:

about at the beginning and I'm going to be interested

Speaker:

in knowing why are you creating candles prior to prior

Speaker:

to your previous career ending? Or, or was this something

Speaker:

that can be started a new in March if you

Speaker:

see what I mean? Yeah,

Speaker:

Yeah, sure. So I've always what my husband can attest

Speaker:

to. You spent an obscene amount or ner on candles

Speaker:

over the years. And I had to kind of, kind

Speaker:

of borderline obsession with a home fragrance and all things

Speaker:

Candle related. And, and to be honest, to be brutally

Speaker:

honest, it never crossed my mind that I, I would

Speaker:

be able to create something like that. I was very

Speaker:

much a fan of the bigger companies that did it.

Speaker:

And I liked, you know, buying from other kind of

Speaker:

small businesses in March last year, when M as you

Speaker:

said to my Event career, I've been freelance as a

Speaker:

self-employed over over 10 years of my whole, my whole

Speaker:

sort of career, really, as soon as that disappeared, when

Speaker:

events could obviously no longer happen, I had no real

Speaker:

idea when I'd be able to get back to work

Speaker:

or indeed you make any money.

Speaker:

To be honest, I wish it was a little bit

Speaker:

more romantic than that, but unfortunately, this, this idea, it

Speaker:

was really sort of born of necessity. I used it

Speaker:

as a sort of coping mechanism for my mental health,

Speaker:

a little bit to kind of own something that, that

Speaker:

I had control over it and something that I could

Speaker:

very much influence and being able to say control of.

Speaker:

Umm, so that's where the idea of kind of came

Speaker:

from my husband's sort of said to me, you know,

Speaker:

you, you could do it, can't be overly difficult to

Speaker:

kind of produce and to make it just, you know,

Speaker:

you need the right idea, you need the right ingredients

Speaker:

and the right kind of, sort of marketing around it

Speaker:

to, to make it a product that people might like

Speaker:

to buy. So after many, many, many hours of a

Speaker:

research and trial and error and hundreds and hundreds of

Speaker:

burnings of candles, we finally got to, to where we

Speaker:

were when we want it to launch, which was M

Speaker:

really exciting.

Speaker:

And actually it feels like a lifetime ago. It doesn't

Speaker:

even, it feels a lot longer than almost a year

Speaker:

ago, which is, is strange, obviously so much has happened

Speaker:

since then. Yeah.

Speaker:

It feels like you've squeezed a lot into this 10

Speaker:

month period. And so that you've done an awful lot

Speaker:

because I had assumed wrongly obviously, which is why you

Speaker:

shouldn't be a shame that he had been Candle making

Speaker:

perhaps beforehand, but it just wasn't a Business. So how,

Speaker:

how did you learn how to make them? Cause it

Speaker:

sounds like you're self-taught as well, but it's not like

Speaker:

if you could go along to the class as, because

Speaker:

obviously that wasn't an option, I saw that

Speaker:

It was it that's it. So actually I'm where at

Speaker:

first it kind of came from my, this was actually

Speaker:

before lock-down. So I had an interest in an aroma

Speaker:

therapy and all things kind of sort of scent related.

Speaker:

And my mother-in-law actually bought me an, an aroma therapy

Speaker:

course that Neal's yard in Khan garden, which I actually,

Speaker:

I was lucky enough to attend before lockdown happened literally

Speaker:

maybe 10 days before I think, and that kind of

Speaker:

kick started the real interest in the science, behind the

Speaker:

aromas, in the blends and all that kind of thing.

Speaker:

Cause the, the actual physical act of Candle making it,

Speaker:

even though there's a lot of trial and error and

Speaker:

there's a lot of science behind it, the physical process

Speaker:

is actually fairly straightforward.

Speaker:

It's it gets quite M the steps are quite simple,

Speaker:

but it's obviously the different elements behind each step that

Speaker:

taking the time. But the, in terms of the sense

Speaker:

that the aromas in the, the kind of reasoning behind

Speaker:

the collection and that sort of sense that I had

Speaker:

gone behind it, it was very much thanks to this

Speaker:

aroma therapy class that I attended, as I say it

Speaker:

just before. So there was, there were steps, they are

Speaker:

kind of cogs were turning before a locked down, but

Speaker:

as soon as a lockdown happened, that's kind of the

Speaker:

kick up the bum that I need it to be

Speaker:

like right now. So, you know, let's say up and

Speaker:

talking about this, I can actually do it. This, this

Speaker:

will be, this will be great. And that's a, I

Speaker:

went off and began.

Speaker:

Wow. That's yeah, that was really impressive. So how long

Speaker:

roughly did it take you from, you know, look down

Speaker:

Starting and you decided to give this a go to

Speaker:

actually sort of open the doors for the business?

Speaker:

Yeah. So should we say we have a husband and

Speaker:

I, and I like to give him some credit because

Speaker:

he has been very, most of the one listening to

Speaker:

me, moaning and whingeing and crying and thinking I can't

Speaker:

do this. And then, you know, jumping up and down

Speaker:

and when something actually works properly, he's very much a

Speaker:

been there every step of the way we, we, I

Speaker:

think we started really talking about it and me actually

Speaker:

doing things. So I would say like in the beginning

Speaker:

of lockdown, but actually we push the button to go

Speaker:

life on the website or at the end of October,

Speaker:

I think will be the only reason I remember the

Speaker:

date so clearly is because one of my best friend's

Speaker:

had a baby around the same time. So I remember

Speaker:

it being, you know, it all kind of all had

Speaker:

to handle so exciting stuff happening at the same time.

Speaker:

And actually one of the, one of the things I

Speaker:

learnt very quickly is that I'm very much, I think

Speaker:

naturally with the events management background, very much a planner

Speaker:

I'm really quite detailed. I like things to have all

Speaker:

my, you know, my ducks in a row before I

Speaker:

commit to something before something goes live, so to speak.

Speaker:

But actually with this, I had to, I, I chose

Speaker:

to go live actually before I was really ready. 'cause

Speaker:

everything, the essentials we're in place, you know, the product

Speaker:

was there, the website we were ready, I think I

Speaker:

was always making excuses and waiting and putting it off

Speaker:

day by day. Cause it was a bit scared and

Speaker:

a bit nervous, but actually, Yeah, come end of October.

Speaker:

I thought, right. If I'm going to capture this, you

Speaker:

know, Christmas market, I need to go live now.

Speaker:

And, and that's when we just did it.

Speaker:

Yeah. And I think there's a lot to be said

Speaker:

for that, but just going for it. 'cause I think

Speaker:

if we were, if we waited for everything to be

Speaker:

perfect or exactly as we wanted it, I think most

Speaker:

of us would just keep putting things off and off

Speaker:

because it, it, I think it's, don't you say it

Speaker:

is, it could be, it can't be a real way.

Speaker:

And you know, I mean, is it a polite way?

Speaker:

It could be a good way of procrastinating context to

Speaker:

just kind of think of it,

Speaker:

This huge procrastinator I had never used to be. And

Speaker:

I think again, whether it's a symptom of this bizarre

Speaker:

situation, we've found ourselves in, but I was never a

Speaker:

procrastinator. I was very much on the front foot. I

Speaker:

was like, you know, let's grab this, let's do it,

Speaker:

blah, blah, blah. And I think have almost been, so

Speaker:

it could be because I actually, so I had my,

Speaker:

my daughter and actually it was only had only come

Speaker:

back off maternity leave for two weeks before locked down

Speaker:

happened. So we had actually been off work for a

Speaker:

year and then back to work for two weeks and

Speaker:

then off again. So I was kind of forced into

Speaker:

an extended maternity leave. So I think for my confidence

Speaker:

in my perceived sort of ability as I suppose, but

Speaker:

for myself, I was really quite, my confidence has been

Speaker:

shaken quite a lot.

Speaker:

And I think that I was questioning myself a lot

Speaker:

and I think that's why I just had to. Yeah,

Speaker:

like you say, by the bullet, just go for it.

Speaker:

Otherwise it would have just kept finding reasons as to

Speaker:

why it wasn't ready or why I wasn't ready.

Speaker:

Well done first if it's doing it and I get

Speaker:

it out there. And so how have things gone in

Speaker:

the first couple of months?

Speaker:

Yeah, good. I think to be honest, having Christmas was

Speaker:

an absolute blessing. So fortunate, obviously it's, hand-in-hand, you know,

Speaker:

candles and Christmas, I think it is it's that kind

Speaker:

of season. It was just fantastic. So I was really

Speaker:

grateful to have that as, as, as a catalyst as

Speaker:

to why I think it was so successful in the

Speaker:

first couple of months, I think a lot of research.

Speaker:

And I think that the sense of the things that

Speaker:

I was releasing at the time we had this sort

Speaker:

of a seasonal specials each season will have a couple

Speaker:

of sets that literally only run it for three months

Speaker:

to kind of make it a little bit more limited,

Speaker:

a little bit more interesting. Obviously Christmas candles are just,

Speaker:

there are so many amazing ones That, that you can

Speaker:

go with that we kind of had a bit of

Speaker:

a kickstart in that sense.

Speaker:

So yeah, it was really lucky. I think it's been,

Speaker:

it's been really popular at one point. And actually I

Speaker:

think about two weeks before Christmas as yourself and I'm

Speaker:

sure anybody else is listening with who used his Royal

Speaker:

mail for any reason for a small business were tearing

Speaker:

their hair out in the couple of weeks before Christmas,

Speaker:

because they were so understanding to be so many delays

Speaker:

and so many problems that it was becoming really stressful.

Speaker:

And I did for a start to think, do I

Speaker:

really want to be out in this level of stress

Speaker:

there, but then, you know, if that was such a

Speaker:

short looking back, it was such a short period of

Speaker:

time that that was stressful for, and most of it

Speaker:

has been so much fun and so positive that it

Speaker:

kind of could get through those tricky bits.

Speaker:

Yeah.

Speaker:

Okay. And how does it work with candles? I mean,

Speaker:

what are sort of logistically, but I really don't know

Speaker:

how to think about the process. So how do you

Speaker:

get orders make the candles or did you make the

Speaker:

candles and then sell what you have? And I'm so

Speaker:

sorry if that's a silly question. Cause I really don't

Speaker:

know

Speaker:

It's all, not at all. So the candles have a

Speaker:

relatively good shelf life. So actually you, if you have

Speaker:

a, a, a collection like mine, that's relatively limited, we

Speaker:

have a cool collection of for scents. And so I

Speaker:

basically, we have a good stock of those are the

Speaker:

whole time. And then when I had a seasonal specials,

Speaker:

such as a, at Christmas, we have the two, there

Speaker:

was a Clementine and Clover and, and a festive for

Speaker:

one, I would almost I'd make a lot smaller batches

Speaker:

of those kind of as I was running because what,

Speaker:

I didn't want to be left with loads of stock,

Speaker:

you know, when Christmas had finished and I have to

Speaker:

do like a January sale type of thing, I didn't

Speaker:

really want to go down that road or kind of

Speaker:

just wanted to try and get too, you know, finish

Speaker:

the story at the end of Christmas. And that was

Speaker:

that kind of thing, and then retire them for the

Speaker:

year.

Speaker:

So yeah, you can kinda go down one or two

Speaker:

roads. You can do what I do and kind of

Speaker:

have a healthy stock of most things most of the

Speaker:

time, or you could make to order it. But I

Speaker:

am as a consumer, I personally just quite like it.

Speaker:

If I can get something quite quickly, I suppose I'm

Speaker:

quite impatient. So if I kind of, you know, if

Speaker:

someone ordered something, I try, you know, and get it

Speaker:

out same day or next day, ideally. So that's kind

Speaker:

of the reasoning behind having some stock ready to go.

Speaker:

Yeah.

Speaker:

That makes sense. And is it also something where it's

Speaker:

easier to make in batches?

Speaker:

Yeah, definitely. I'll for sure. Yeah. So if at any

Speaker:

kind of a, maker's all have different different equipment and

Speaker:

the different methods, you know, some of it, depending also

Speaker:

obviously it is very scalable. So some bigger companies obviously

Speaker:

have, you know, a vast, vast sort of a wax,

Speaker:

you know, I'm a melting, uhm, sort of equipment going

Speaker:

twenty-four seven, but obviously mine's a much, much smaller operation,

Speaker:

but yes, absolutely making things in batches. I would carve

Speaker:

out some time whether it was when my daughter was

Speaker:

asleep. Like a, like now when we are recording this,

Speaker:

just having an app that was good timing. Or when

Speaker:

she's in bed at night, every evening from 7:00 PM,

Speaker:

until I went to bed at 11 would be churning

Speaker:

out, you know, candles I'm in the studio when my

Speaker:

husband was getting his own way with the television.

Speaker:

So he was quite happy. But yeah, any, any spare

Speaker:

hour I had that my daughter wasn't awake basically we

Speaker:

spent Yeah. Turning out batches of, of candles.

Speaker:

Okay. So what is it a long process to make

Speaker:

candles? And I was just really fascinating. So I had

Speaker:

no idea.

Speaker:

Yeah. And so, no, it's not actually it's time-wise is

Speaker:

relatively quite short. So you, you can, you make it,

Speaker:

you can make a batch se for example, a lunchtime

Speaker:

on a Saturday night, for example, and they, they ideally

Speaker:

needs sort of 24 to 48 hours to cure properly.

Speaker:

So you can't really do much with them until at

Speaker:

least, you know, a, a day or two later. So

Speaker:

they are properly set and cute and steady and, And

Speaker:

good to ship 'em. But after that, they are pretty,

Speaker:

they're pretty good and say, they've got a good shelf

Speaker:

life and stuff, but yeah, there they are pretty quick.

Speaker:

It's just the curing that takes the time made King,

Speaker:

for example, you know, you can make probably with, with

Speaker:

the equipment they have at the minute, I could probably

Speaker:

make maybe sort of 30 candles in an hour, I

Speaker:

guess would be a good, a good estimate.

Speaker:

I wow. That is much quicker than I thought

Speaker:

It was. Yeah. It is quick, let's say the hearing

Speaker:

time and the space it takes to, to stack all

Speaker:

these candles for curing is the, the trickier part, but

Speaker:

the actual yeah. The, the manufacturing process, so to speak

Speaker:

is pretty quick. Yeah. So this is the research behind

Speaker:

it that takes the hours and months. Yeah.

Speaker:

Yeah. And I guess also sourcing the sense as well.

Speaker:

You must take some time. Yeah. Yeah,

Speaker:

Definitely. And as I say, when you start to, when

Speaker:

it's just you, as you probably know, when you're on

Speaker:

your own doing something, I say, I have my husband

Speaker:

kind of bounce off, has a bit of a sounding

Speaker:

board, but it's, it's really tricky to me. I found

Speaker:

it quite tricky when to send it is such a

Speaker:

personal thing. Like when you look at it, like if

Speaker:

you were going to be a perfume for somebody, unless

Speaker:

you know them really well or know what they are

Speaker:

already, like, its really tricky to almost, you know, guess

Speaker:

what sends people like. So for me to narrow it

Speaker:

down to these different cents was quite, I'm quite a

Speaker:

tricky process. I found a lot tricky then I thought

Speaker:

it would be when I first had the idea of

Speaker:

doing it, I thought, Oh yeah, I'll just, you know,

Speaker:

choose 4 cents.

Speaker:

I'll sell them. And that's that. But actually I changed

Speaker:

my mind even on just the core collection. I changed

Speaker:

my mind probably 20, 30 times before I actually decided

Speaker:

when I was gonna go with, which sounds ridiculous. But

Speaker:

until you start doing it, it really hard to know,

Speaker:

I guess, as well, given that it's sort of the

Speaker:

tie in this all happened with the pandemic and it

Speaker:

was, it wasn't like he could do research groups and

Speaker:

focus groups and say to people, smell these and tell

Speaker:

me what you think because you do it.

Speaker:

Would you say that I actually have, so I have

Speaker:

two, two very close friends that live one that she

Speaker:

moved away now, but one is still is very close

Speaker:

to me. Literally four minutes walk down the road. And

Speaker:

at one point I was actually making candles that test

Speaker:

candles, sticking the cents on the bottom of the, the

Speaker:

name, dropping them on her doorstep, getting her to burn

Speaker:

them and label them, her favorite book without knowing what

Speaker:

they are. And then I would go in and she

Speaker:

leave them outside and I would go and pick them

Speaker:

up against. And she was, she was so amazing. You

Speaker:

know, we spent so much time helping and giving her

Speaker:

feedback so that she was kind of my only apart

Speaker:

from my husband, my only real sounding board. But if

Speaker:

it was, it was crucial, I think to get an

Speaker:

outsider's perspective on it, who hasn't been sniffing, these things,

Speaker:

you know, all day everyday, you kind of go a

Speaker:

bit nose blind yourself.

Speaker:

So yeah.

Speaker:

Right. Yeah. I can imagine. And that was good. You

Speaker:

were able to do that because it's yeah, it's a

Speaker:

real challenge. Isn't it? Because the smell is something that

Speaker:

we can't do a to Z, so it's really was

Speaker:

really neat.

Speaker:

Yes. Yeah. That's the only thing, even in a virtual

Speaker:

reality, you can't really Mmm. You can't do it in

Speaker:

a certain thing yet. You are. Right,

Speaker:

Right. And so how did you find this, The sourcing

Speaker:

process? Because obviously he's got a sourcing sense. I've seen

Speaker:

them, you have to source whacks and, and packaging.

Speaker:

I have been let go of, because there's so many

Speaker:

options for every single element of it. I actually used

Speaker:

the, the process of using kind of Kent as a,

Speaker:

as an anchor to kind of try and be like,

Speaker:

okay, you know, let's, every time you go and look

Speaker:

at, think of the material that you need, you think

Speaker:

of some glassware you need, or a Wix, all this

Speaker:

stuff in the sense that the oils try. And obviously

Speaker:

you always bring it back to like why you're choosing

Speaker:

that one. Is it anything to do with it? You

Speaker:

know, the Garden of England is it can, is it

Speaker:

a local supply, like try and do it. It helps

Speaker:

narrow it down a little. 'cause obviously when you think

Speaker:

of a jock or Candle wax to go in, there

Speaker:

is literally hundreds of thousands of options.

Speaker:

I mean, like to me, so I, for example, when

Speaker:

with the Amber Glass jars, because it reflects the sort

Speaker:

of brewing heritage Mmm. And the hops and the old

Speaker:

houses in Cannes. So I quite liked them, even though

Speaker:

the jars I used, they all are recycled glass, but

Speaker:

they are not from beer bottles. I'm the aesthetic is

Speaker:

kind of, you know, ties in with that at the,

Speaker:

the, the Brown be ABL to glass. Heritage was just

Speaker:

quite nice. Uhm, we don't have such a kind of

Speaker:

romantic story. Unfortunately with the WACS, the WACS is just,

Speaker:

I had gone with a supplier who is based in

Speaker:

Kent and the wax is, or its a soy wax,

Speaker:

which is much better for the environment than any other

Speaker:

type that I researched.

Speaker:

Mmm. So that's, that's the only sort of story with

Speaker:

that one, but yeah, I have kind of tried to

Speaker:

tie everything back in to that kind of local narrative,

Speaker:

which is quite nice.

Speaker:

Yeah. That's really nice. And it's nice as that you

Speaker:

wanted to get it like, Oh and also like you

Speaker:

say really useful to have a criteria because yeah. I

Speaker:

imagine that glass jars, you can get so many places.

Speaker:

Yeah. The choice you can.

Speaker:

Okay. So yeah, you do, you do.

Speaker:

Yeah. I imagine that go two criteria made it really

Speaker:

easy, not easy, but easier to see things down. So

Speaker:

lets talk a little bit about what sort of be

Speaker:

in as a business owner and obviously you've been self-employed

Speaker:

at sound's for a while. Yeah. I guess this was

Speaker:

a different kind of business because there has to be

Speaker:

a balanced between you are actually doing the crafting in

Speaker:

the making of your products and then the business side

Speaker:

of things. So how, how has that working out so

Speaker:

far?

Speaker:

Yeah. So what's really funny. And my, my husband absolutely

Speaker:

grills me all the time about this is I did

Speaker:

a, I did a business degree at uni that, I

Speaker:

mean, you know, a long, long time ago, but that's

Speaker:

what I did my degree and he just finds it

Speaker:

hilarious because basically I am horrific at all things financial,

Speaker:

I am amazing with a spreadsheet I'm which, you know,

Speaker:

cause I think it comes from the event side of

Speaker:

things, but awful with all things, you know, receipts and

Speaker:

finance and I kinda everything's a bit jumbled and it

Speaker:

will get there, but it's not really any kind of

Speaker:

slip process. So my husband is very, very much the,

Speaker:

the leader on that side of things and I'm so

Speaker:

grateful to have him.

Speaker:

So in this respect, in this business, I'm definitely enjoying

Speaker:

the, the creative sort of outlet side of it rather

Speaker:

than the kind of, you know, day-by-day admin business side

Speaker:

of it. I love having something that's mine that I

Speaker:

have created that is that I am at the end

Speaker:

of the day, the S the kind of, you know,

Speaker:

so like the sole input into it, which is quite

Speaker:

nice, but also there's obviously the other side of that.

Speaker:

It's when you're wearing sort of the hearts of a,

Speaker:

a business owner and trying to do everything else at

Speaker:

the same time, that's also really tricky, you know, having

Speaker:

my daughter and I've got, we've got two dogs.

Speaker:

And so it sounds silly, but you know, there are

Speaker:

just like, it's another responsibility. It's another thing. It's another

Speaker:

thing to add into the daily kind of schedule. So

Speaker:

I found it so juggling, all of that side of

Speaker:

things are really hard, actually a really hard, but I've

Speaker:

learned it every day as we all are, you know,

Speaker:

it's very much learning on the, on the job. And

Speaker:

I think when you start a small business, you, you

Speaker:

can't be expected to know everything at the beginning, unless

Speaker:

you've, if you've never done it before, or even if

Speaker:

you let me see, did a business degree, there is

Speaker:

so much every day that I learned and I don't

Speaker:

know yet. So I'm really interested know, I would love

Speaker:

to see a crystal ball and see what all, you

Speaker:

know, Bee I'll have learned it in a years time.

Speaker:

It would be interesting. Yeah.

Speaker:

No, I think, yeah, there was nothing like learning on

Speaker:

the job is there?

Speaker:

Oh, no, for sure. And I think with this also,

Speaker:

what I've actually found, one of the weirdest things is

Speaker:

that I needed to start looking at my business as

Speaker:

a business and not as a hobby because it kind

Speaker:

of started off as a lot of people at, you

Speaker:

know, you've got to see a or wherever and you

Speaker:

type in, or, you know, so we can do, there

Speaker:

are so many Candle makers. And I think not everybody

Speaker:

wants to turn it into a really profitable business. Some

Speaker:

people are really happy to keep it as a hobby

Speaker:

that we briefly chatted about. It is great. If something

Speaker:

can be profitable, but not actually, you know, you may

Speaker:

not want to grow it into anything bigger, but actually

Speaker:

I'd really need it to keep snapping out of the,

Speaker:

Oh, this is kind of a sideline kind of a

Speaker:

hobby actually at the moment right now, until I know

Speaker:

when events are going to come back and I'm going

Speaker:

to get some work again, this is very much my

Speaker:

primary income.

Speaker:

Yeah. This is my job. So this is what I

Speaker:

have to carve out time to do. It's not a

Speaker:

sideline is not a hobby as it is very much

Speaker:

my job. So its kind of focusing on a little

Speaker:

bit every day, which is I found quite, quite tricky.

Speaker:

Yeah. I think that is a way that is hard.

Speaker:

And also I think as there, when you think of

Speaker:

it as a business is so much, there's so much

Speaker:

to do to run a business, is aren't there there's

Speaker:

stuff that you say it all the hats that you

Speaker:

have to wear. It's a lot when I was like,

Speaker:

if it's a hobby, there's obviously a lot less pressure.

Speaker:

Definitely. Yeah. I'm really lucky that my throughout all of

Speaker:

this I'm without getting too bogged down in a way,

Speaker:

I, I wasn't able to get any of the Grant's

Speaker:

or any government support whatsoever. So I've literally had zero

Speaker:

pennies support since March of last year. So the only

Speaker:

income I've been able to bring in to the home

Speaker:

is what I've made from the candle's, which has made

Speaker:

it are a bit of pressure, probably mainly just from

Speaker:

myself, but I want to do, you know, achieve something.

Speaker:

I don't want to make a success of it, but

Speaker:

I'm really lucky that my husband has a in, in

Speaker:

a vertical has grown up job and you know, a

Speaker:

proper job. So he can kind of keep a roof

Speaker:

over our heads a, which is just incredible and I'm

Speaker:

extremely grateful for, but also, you know, I need to

Speaker:

remember that my, my role is, you know, that I

Speaker:

bring in money to, which has kind of something is,

Speaker:

is, has been really important to me sort of for

Speaker:

my own confidence more than anything else I think.

Speaker:

Yeah. And how are you sort of managing the balance

Speaker:

between all the things that you have to be done?

Speaker:

So for example, how much time do you spend making

Speaker:

the candles versus selling the candles?

Speaker:

Yeah, I think so as I was saying, the, in

Speaker:

the making is very much kind of, as in when

Speaker:

I can I leave, you know, I carve out some

Speaker:

time, whatever she's asleep or a nursery or wherever I'm

Speaker:

the selling that the marketing because were not able to

Speaker:

do face to face sales, like the, you know, the

Speaker:

Christmas, Fair's the markets that Saturday craft fairs, all of

Speaker:

that lovely side of face to face interaction. And that

Speaker:

actually I'm really excited when we will be able to

Speaker:

do that because I haven't had that. I've had to

Speaker:

do a real crash course in, you know, online marketing

Speaker:

and SEO and all of the kind of social media

Speaker:

side of things, which I, I thought I had fairly

Speaker:

good grasp of Jen really saw from the events side

Speaker:

of things, but actually there so much about marketing a

Speaker:

product versus an event that that's so different and I've

Speaker:

learnt as you say, learn it, learning on the job.

Speaker:

And every day it has been, it's been a definite

Speaker:

learning curve, but every day there's something else that comes

Speaker:

up that I'm like, Oh, it didn't know that I

Speaker:

need to do that. Or so, yeah, that's been quite

Speaker:

quite interesting.

Speaker:

And I guess you say it is harder as well

Speaker:

now 'cause candles are one of those things that sometimes

Speaker:

people would prefer to smell before they buy. Yeah,

Speaker:

Definitely. Its really hard. And then there's, you know, ways

Speaker:

and I want to say too much actually, because there's

Speaker:

going to be a new product coming out to see

Speaker:

in the, that that isn't quite ready. So I won't

Speaker:

I'll wait till now, but that there is there's ways

Speaker:

that you can kind of like help people to understand

Speaker:

how something might or might smell. But yeah, it's without

Speaker:

actually smelling it, like you say, picking up at a

Speaker:

fair off a stall and kind of going, Oh yeah,

Speaker:

that's great. I'll have five, it's a bit of a

Speaker:

bit of a gamble, but so far it's all right.

Speaker:

Got it. All right.

Speaker:

You know, that's a really good and I had no

Speaker:

idea that you could explain, smell about it, so I'd

Speaker:

be able to smell something like that.

Speaker:

It really is going to be interesting to see how

Speaker:

it works, but we shall see, we should say,

Speaker:

Why is that something you were looking to do in

Speaker:

the near ish? Yeah,

Speaker:

Yeah, yeah. It is in the, in the spring. So

Speaker:

yeah.

Speaker:

Oh, so I'm thinking maybe by the time this episode

Speaker:

goes live perhaps as a child, it will be available.

Speaker:

We will be available. And if it is, you have

Speaker:

to make sure you let me know so we can

Speaker:

not tell people. But yeah, definitely. I definitely won't say

Speaker:

that would be amazing if we can, if we can

Speaker:

share that with people. I'm really, Yeah. I'm really intrigued.

Speaker:

How do you stay? How do you do that? So

Speaker:

yeah, please do, please do update me if that was

Speaker:

before this goes out for sure. So just a few

Speaker:

more questions to finish up if that's okay. So what

Speaker:

are some of the things, so we were coming back

Speaker:

to sort of managing the business sides of the craft

Speaker:

inside or is there anything that you've learnt that you

Speaker:

think would be useful for, for people to know?

Speaker:

Yeah, definitely. So I think one of the things I've

Speaker:

always been really bad off as accepting help. Umm, so

Speaker:

accept any help or any relevant help when its offered,

Speaker:

whether that's, what if you're making wherever you are building

Speaker:

doing, offering, if somebody's, even if somebody's doesn't really have

Speaker:

any M experience in that exact thing, there might be

Speaker:

people that have been like, Oh, well I didn't, you

Speaker:

know, I sold different products, but actually, you know, so

Speaker:

some of the stuff of course is over so they

Speaker:

can give you some input. So it don't just because

Speaker:

someone doesn't for example sell and they make table's for

Speaker:

example, it, it might be that they have some relevant

Speaker:

experience and stuff. So accept help. Even if it comes

Speaker:

from the advice comes from places where you might initially

Speaker:

think of that's no help to me to sort of

Speaker:

be open, to accepting, help from places where yeah.

Speaker:

You might not expect it to come from. I think

Speaker:

would be, would definitely be one. And the other one

Speaker:

I've definitely felt quite heavily before Christmas is that competition

Speaker:

can be really healthy, but don't sort of obsess. I

Speaker:

I've often would find myself sort of checking, you know,

Speaker:

other kind of a company that started around the same

Speaker:

time, the same time as mine. And I'd be, you

Speaker:

know, seeing, Oh how many followers? So they have, what

Speaker:

if they posted stay like checking, checking, checking in. And

Speaker:

actually, you know, some of my friend's would say to

Speaker:

me, it's, it's, it's great to keep an eye on

Speaker:

it. And B you know, it was a bit of

Speaker:

healthy competition to keep you motivated and keep you sort

Speaker:

of on the right track, but don't get sidetracked by

Speaker:

it. It don't be, you know, disheartened, if you, if,

Speaker:

you know, I don't know, got a new product out

Speaker:

that you hadn't thought of, of what they've got more

Speaker:

followers than you are or whatever, like what that company

Speaker:

is doing, what those people are doing is, is amazing

Speaker:

for them.

Speaker:

And what you're doing is amazing for you and there's

Speaker:

room for all of us. And that's something I've sort

Speaker:

of really hard to work on and, and sit with,

Speaker:

but I'm definitely there now. I think for Christmas, that

Speaker:

was quite tricky. Cause it was so competitive, but someone

Speaker:

said to me is a good bit of advice was,

Speaker:

you know, you walked down the bread aisle and Sainsburys

Speaker:

and look how many companies make bread, like there's room

Speaker:

for all of us, you know, we all have different

Speaker:

offerings and that's, that's a good thing. That's a good

Speaker:

thing for consumers. So I have to kind of remember

Speaker:

that sometimes

Speaker:

I have to ask it and as, yeah, that's a

Speaker:

really good perspective actually.

Speaker:

Yeah. Yeah. It was healthy. I think it's time to

Speaker:

remember it from that side of things.

Speaker:

Yeah. And I guess I will say that every, there

Speaker:

is definitely room for everyone. 'cause, I mean, we have

Speaker:

lots of things that are sent in particular. It's so

Speaker:

personal, isn't it? So it's your personal phone,

Speaker:

You know, and it's, and it's also with, with Candle

Speaker:

making, I think that as to, should I say it

Speaker:

with Candle buying it rather than Candle making you have

Speaker:

an idea about some people might buy Candle cars, they

Speaker:

liked the way it looks. They almost literally don't care

Speaker:

what it smells like. The way it looks is the

Speaker:

most important thing to them where somebody else, you know,

Speaker:

you could send it to them on a bait being

Speaker:

Khan, but they, they, they burn it and they really

Speaker:

get in the sense that is very much something that

Speaker:

they, you know, create in their homes. They have lots

Speaker:

of things in their homes to kind of create an

Speaker:

atmosphere that's very important to them and they actually care

Speaker:

more about that and how it looks. So it kind

Speaker:

of nice to have, to be able to kind of

Speaker:

try and play to both, both sides a bit, which

Speaker:

is nice.

Speaker:

Yeah. And also, I guess its also a person with

Speaker:

a sec in the sense that I, I imagine that

Speaker:

you can have five Christmas candles, different Candle maker's and

Speaker:

to someone or they would all be very different even

Speaker:

though they might not be seeing that difference. If that

Speaker:

makes sense.

Speaker:

Apparently people have, like you say it because it's so

Speaker:

personal someone you might burn three uhm, of arguably on

Speaker:

paper at the same cents in front of somebody. So

Speaker:

three candlemakers could have made a, you know, for example

Speaker:

a, An Clementine and Clover or whatever a Candle, but

Speaker:

every now and nobody knows what's what another candle maker,

Speaker:

what blend oils they have used. You don't know where

Speaker:

they always have come from or wax they've used it,

Speaker:

all of these different elements, even the wet and the

Speaker:

container material and everything makes a difference in, it all

Speaker:

adds in to this cocktail. So you can say, you

Speaker:

can burn these three candles that are, that are called

Speaker:

the same thing, but actually they are completely different. And

Speaker:

that person smelling them will sort of have preferences in

Speaker:

their own, you know, brains, the receptors and much more,

Speaker:

you know, they might hook onto or are they like

Speaker:

really sweet smells.

Speaker:

So if one of them as a sweeter, more cinnamony

Speaker:

smell, they will go for that one kind of thing.

Speaker:

So it's, you know, even though I might adore something

Speaker:

like maid is really risky and worrying and scary when

Speaker:

you sell it and go all, Please like it, you

Speaker:

know, because I love it. So you open it, not,

Speaker:

you know, not everyone will like everything, but you can

Speaker:

only hope that you've made something that enough people like

Speaker:

that.

Speaker:

Yeah. And as you say, the nice thing as well

Speaker:

was that does mean that there is room for everyone,

Speaker:

which is yeah,

Speaker:

Definitely. Yeah. I mean there is. So it definitely is.

Speaker:

Yeah. And so before we finish up, Donna, what would

Speaker:

be your number one piece of advice to anyone else

Speaker:

wanting to start selling products?

Speaker:

I think my number one piece of advice would be,

Speaker:

I did touch on it earlier, but I think it

Speaker:

really would be, don't wait until every little piece of

Speaker:

the puzzle lines up. If your, if your dream of

Speaker:

your aim is something that you want to do, don't

Speaker:

wait for everything to fall into place because sometimes it

Speaker:

just won't sometimes you have to those pieces of the

Speaker:

puzzle aren't even available yet. You know, you, you were

Speaker:

constantly learning and evolving and your idea, your, your product,

Speaker:

your service, or whatever might as mine has. It might

Speaker:

constantly change and Bee be making, you know, minor tweaks

Speaker:

the whole way. Like my, on my website, my packaging,

Speaker:

and a couple of other aspects of my products have

Speaker:

changed a lot since I actually launched in October.

Speaker:

Like I, I found a better way to package things.

Speaker:

And so it kind of, I suppose in a nutshell

Speaker:

was don't don't think you've got This, everything in a

Speaker:

nutshell wrap top ready to launch it, like perfect, you

Speaker:

know, set in stone M be able to kind of

Speaker:

have the flexibility to be like, okay, well, you know,

Speaker:

kind of roll with the punches too a little bit

Speaker:

and have the sort of, you know, the foresight to,

Speaker:

to think actually this might need to change what I

Speaker:

might need to change that or, or whatever. Yeah. Don't

Speaker:

wait for it all to be perfectly ready to roll

Speaker:

because it, it, it wouldn't be, and it doesn't need

Speaker:

to be. Yeah,

Speaker:

No, it was brilliant. And vice thank you so much.

Speaker:

Not at all a pleasure. Well, thank you for everything

Speaker:

for all of that you've shared today and all that.

Speaker:

I can talk about it. And I think my husband

Speaker:

we'll just be pleased, but it's not him having to

Speaker:

listen to it for one.

Speaker:

Right? Yeah. It was fantastic. Thank you so much. And

Speaker:

I'm really to see and what you do in the

Speaker:

next couple of months, because yeah. As you said, you

Speaker:

have businesses. So, you know, so we, you know, relative

Speaker:

reality days and yeah,

Speaker:

It would be in its infancy. So yeah, there's lots

Speaker:

of things in the pipeline. We've got some really exciting

Speaker:

some products coming out in the spring, I would say

Speaker:

in a, in a sort of, probably six to eight

Speaker:

weeks time. So we'll keep everybody posted

Speaker:

It. Definitely. G thank you so much, Donna.

Speaker:

Thank you.

Speaker:

Hi, thank you so much for listening as always. I'd

Speaker:

absolutely love to know what you thought of this episode.

Speaker:

Please do remember to rate and review the show and

Speaker:

also most importantly subscribe. So you don't miss out in

Speaker:

any future episodes. And as a reminder, I release a

Speaker:

new episode every single Friday. So take care and forward

Speaker:

to speaking to you again, then.