Small Business Success - Cotswold Candle Co.
Cotswold Candle Co was thought up by founder Polly Oswald after moving from the big city to the Cotswolds. Polly is inspired by the beauty of the countryside surrounding her and the memories her scents evoke. In just four years she has grown her love of candle making from a hobby to a successful small business.
What made you want to try your hand at candle making?
I had moved out of London to the Cotswolds, and had given up my job in the corporate world and was looking after two small children and pregnant with a third. But I wanted something else to concentrate on. I read a magazine article about a lady who has also moved out of London and had tried her hand at candle making. That was it! I have always loved candles and decided to try and have a go at making my own. I tested LOADS of different waxes, wicks and fragrances, and two years of hard testing (and a son born!) I finally had a candle that I was proud enough to sell. I went to a Christmas market and they sold like hotcakes. Cotswold Candle Co was born!
You speak about the power of fragrance in evoking memories and creating experiences - how do you choose the fragrances for your range? Do you often introduce new scents?
Fragrance most definitely transports you back to certain moments in your past. Your olfactory senses play a huge part in your memories. I have chosen scents that mean something to me. Lily of the Valley reminds me completely of my late grandmother. Bluebell transports me to the woods where I grew up. Cinnamon, Orange & Clove is totally Christmas. I currently have 16 fragrances and every year I introduce a limited edition fragrance. At some point I will introduce new fragrances but 16 across the range of scented candles, reed diffusers and room sprays is enough to keep me on my toes!
Your branding has a lovely cosy feel to it, especially with your use of wooden wicks. Did the look of your candles play a factor in deciding to go with wooden wicks, or was it all about the performance?
I completely love the wooden wicks - I love the way they look, and the way they crackle, adding a third dimension of sound to the candle, not just the look and smell. I also think the wooden wick adds a rustic feel to the candle, and when I first started using them there weren't many others doing so, so they were a bit different. I may well add in a cotton wick range at some point too so watch this space!
Is there a story behind your logo?
The logo was born after I had to redesign after a competitor set up with the same name, and I wasn't able to trademark my old logo. The girl in my logo is a nostalgic figure. She takes us back in time. She could even be me as a child, with the fragrance of my candles transporting me back in time. I'm very fond of her and the redesign of my logo has definitely boosted my business. I've had so many great comments on it.
You offer a subscription service for your candles - does this prove popular with customers?
This is a new offering and everybody has leapt at it! I hope it will continue to prove popular. People signed up to the subscription service will also receive other limited edition candles not available on the website so it's a great way to try something new.
You've grown so much over the last few years that you now have your first employee. Was it difficult to make the decision to hire help? How have you found it so far?
It wasn't a difficult decision at all! It was a necessity! With three children at two different schools, and with the Christmas season in candle world getting out of control, I had no choice but to employ someone to keep up with demand. Emily joined me a year ago but had previously looked after my children so I know her well and she is a superstar and we work very well alongside each other.
Do you have any words of wisdom for those hoping to build their own candle business?
Be prepared to invest a lot of time and money to begin with - it doesn't happen overnight. Be patient, keep at it, and eventually it will pay off. I go to bed dreaming of candles and wake up excited to get to my workshop and constantly have new ideas. I absolutely love my little business and am so proud of what I have achieved.
To find out more about Cotswold Candle Co visit www.cotswoldcandle.co
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