Can you take us through the Candles By Sarah journey?
I have always been a creative person, whether that is painting, making things or any element of interior design and have always loved the way a nice candle can transform a room or an area. The business started with an xmas gift, a candle making set, allowing me to create candles for our home, over that xmas I enjoyed making a variety of candles with my still bowl and jug, so much that I started posting some of the candles I had created online, and people started asking if I could make them for their home, and from there the business was born.
This was all during lockdown, which meant I had a bit more time that usual and it allowed me to keep busy and stay creative. I was initially quite nervous about starting candles by Sarah as a fully fledged business as it was a journey into the unknown and I was apprehensive, but my fiancé and my first few customers really encouraged me that more people would enjoy my candles, so I took the leap and incorporated my company in January 2021
Since then I have built my own website, learned about marketing, brand reps, bought myself a melting maker, been approached to feature in a well known global magazine and added many products to my range, and now have over 40 varieties of candles, with plenty more to come.
Since starting, have you made any changes to the business model?
Originally we were focusing on container based candles but realised these were not as lucrative or in demand as we first thought, so we started focusing much more on the decorative non container candles, and the different varieties that we could offer. We also expected to sell solely on Instagram and Facebook, but have now developed our website to give us more reach and a better overall presence which has led to many more sales, our direct web sales now outweigh our direct social media sales. So not necessarily huge changes in the model as such, but still pretty big shifts in our first year of trading
Have you ever had a mentor? If so how has this benefitted you either personally or professionally?
My fiancé is a business advisor at Nordens,so has helped mentor me from a business sense and helped me understand my numbers and the benefits of setting goals and targets, which has helped give me confidence in what I am able to accomplish, I am really grateful for and appreciative of his support.
What outlets do use for marketing?
We use paid adverts on Instagram, we get support from our brand reps who actively promote our products and we also display our customer photos on our website and social media which really helps generate interest in and around their own network.
Which methods are you using to build your own support network?
I spend time interacting with my customers, the use of polls really helps me in my decisions over new products and displays. I spend time at art fairs and markets, gauging what other business owners in similar industries do and how they are becoming successful. My fiancé provides me good support as he is always happy and interested to speak about my business, also my friends and family have all supported me since day one and will always give me honest feedback, also my brand reps are also hugely supportive and we regularly spend time brainstorming ahead of new releases.
What is the best piece of business advice you have received to date?
Set clear and measurable goals, and break them down into manageable chunks. This has been an invaluable piece of advice to ensure I am not overwhelmed and can celebrate the little wins.
How do you create an evenly balanced work and personal life?
Blocking out allocated time for personal time, hobbies and relaxation is really important for me, as I have the ability to make and create candles 24/7 it can often be tempting to continue when I know I should rest for the day, so it is important I put structure in place to at least give me some recharge time
Name a seminal point in your career so far?
As it is so early in my business career, I would probably say the very first decision to move from a hobby to a business, this was a huge leap for me, and was very uncomfortable initially. Another big moment was when we transformed a whole room in our house to facilitate my business, previously I was doing everything in my kitchen, but now with all the extra space I am able to store, package and display my candles much easier.
What gives you ultimate career satisfaction?
Knowing that I have helped improve or enhance somebody’s home is a priceless feeling
Are there any leading entrepreneurs or SME leaders that you admire and if so, why?
I am a keen follower of Mrs Hinch, as it resonates with me in the way she has been able to start from a home/cleaning social media account and now she has her own home range in a huge company like Tesco, it is inspirational and something I would aspire to create for my business.
How do you define your own success?
Making a profit is obviously a financial measure, especially when it is in line or ideally above what we have predicted, but gaining followers and seeing customers and other people commenting on how much they love my candles and proudly displaying them in their houses is to me equally as valuable.
Finally, What can we expect from you this year?
This year I would like to double my Instagram following, double my profits, release my first candle accessory and double my profit. If all goes well I would like to be looking at taking on my first team member and even perhaps looking at a small premises to work from.