Pouring candles provides bright business idea

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Bg - fife - jo macfarlane

Moving her business out of her home in Anstruther and into Murray Studios last September provided former long-haul air stewardess Jo Macfarlane with a new base to run her candle making workshops. The sessions provide people with a unique opportunity to learn how to produce their very own eco soy wax candles to take home, and a one-day advanced course will launch soon.

What does your business do? I hand make bespoke private label candles for luxury hotels, businesses and for corporate gifting. I also run candle making workshops for people, teaching them new skills and increasing their self-confidence. My luxury Scottish candles can also be bought directly from www.jomacfarlane.com and select boutique shops and retreats. 

How and why did you start in business? The business started at my kitchen table as a hobby after I decided to refill lovely empty candle jars. That process still forms part of the business. On Fridays I run ‘fillitupfriday’ where clients drop in with their empty candle jars for a refill.

How did you get to where you are today? By being tenacious and embracing change. When my business began I didn’t think that I would be running candle making workshops but that’s what the customers wanted. 

Who has helped you along the way? Business Gateway Fife helped me successfully apply for funding to buy my huge wax melter which has enabled me to increase production. Currently I’m benefitting fro,m Business Gateway’s DigitalBoost programme, which will help me grow the brand online. My adviser, Lynne Baillie, has been a fantastic support. Support through Small Business Saturday has also been a huge for my business. Winning Theo Paphitis’ Small Business Sunday and Jaqueline Gold’s ‘Women On Wednesday’ has been great because you have access to their Facebook groups so if you need to ask a question or are stuck you can just pop on for feedback. I am also part of The Social Sales Girls network - a great resource – and was part on The Acorn Accelerator programme. 

What is your biggest mistake? In the past, if I hit a plateau I gave up. Now, I push past it by changing or adapting to current situations. I think making mistakes is good but only if you learn from them. 

What is your greatest achievement to date? Being part of Small Business Saturday has been huge for me. Last year I won one of the 100 places in the run up to the day itself. We were then invited to Downing Street in December, where I had a stand. It was an incredible experience and I am very grateful for the opportunity. I was also invited down to London for International Women’s Day alongside 19 other women to discuss #pressforprogress. In May, I was shortlisted for 'Bricks and Clicks' Best multi-channel business at The Small Awards, and I am heading to The House Of Lords in June for a summer reception on behalf of The Small Business Charter. Running a marathon and reading 100 business and self-development books in a year are a couple of recent personal achievements. I am a huge fan of self-growth and ‘Kaizen’.

What do you hope to achieve in the future? The business is growing organically. Sometimes I think we expect exponential growth. Last year the workshops grew by 400% and are likely to grow by 200% this year. I am also looking at the possibility of franchising the workshop side of the business to give other people the opportunity to start a business from their own kitchen table. 
Do you want to recruit? I’m open to growth.

What’s the hardest thing about running your own business? Wearing different hats all day. If there is a tech problem you just have to figure it out. Sometimes it takes hours, and that all adds up. Having a good network of support is essential.

Any advice for wannabe entrepreneurs? Start from your kitchen table, build your network and always ask for what you want. My parents always said “if you don’t ask, you don’t get”. Always follow up after any event that you have been at where you exchanged business cards. You won’t remember them and they won’t remember you in a couple of days’ time so send a little ‘nice to meet you’ email. Get in touch with Business Gateway Fife for advice early on.

Find out how Business Gateway Fife can help your business by visiting their local pages or by calling 01592 858 366.

Outwith this area? Find your local Business Gateway office or call 0300 013 4753.

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