There is a new luxury candle brand launching into Liberty of London today, and it is the product of two years of my blood, sweat, wax, ceramic, wick and tears.
No.22 Candles (Google it! Click the link!) is my brand, and I made it happen. I'm not quite sure how, on top of the fast pace and fuller-than-full-time nature of my day job as Beauty Director of ELLE UK, but nevertheless, suddenly I am a 'Brand Founder'.
Initially I was making candles in my kitchen as a calming hobby. Only calming doesn't come very easily to me, and making candles is a proper science with so many variables, so soon, 'how do I get a bloody even burn?' became an obsession. I would be wide awake at 5am with a new idea, and go make another version before my husband had even had a cup of tea. Eventually, after a year of trial and error and endless research, I cracked it. My candle was the kind of candle I'd want to buy for my lovingly renovated home, and I started to get very nice compliments.
Eventually I got an order from a good friend to gift to all of her PR clients at Christmas. There followed weeks of manic candle making, packaging, bespoking and perfecting before they went out, and then the power of social media took over. Instagram meant that, although only a fledgling handmade prototype, my candle was being seen by more and more people until Liberty requested a meeting.
I thought they were just being nice, but it turns out they could see my handmade design as a viable business proposition and suddenly I had an order to stock in the one place I credit with curating the best shop edit ever. I am a loyal fan, and I couldn't believe now they were one of mine. The dream had been anchored, now I just had to become a professional Chandler. No biggie.
Christmas is the key time for candle purchase, so I had a year to get my brand manufactured and into store. What could be so difficult? The question should have been, what is wrong with just having one career? Because there followed a very steep learning curve (the dummies guide to starting your own business is invaluable), and months and months of extreme stress. I learnt that evolution is important, the finished product is so much better than the original idea, and everything will take longer and cost more than you planned. It's the universal truth of new business.
Trademarks, website design, third party suppliers, samples, intellectual property rights, accountants, sales tax, Companies House registration, paper samples, design tweaks, boxes, stickers, the list of incomprehensible considerations goes on and on, but the enormous sense of achievement on seeing it all come together, today, was entirely worth it.
I got my first order two minutes after my website went live and the realisation that I've created something that other people want hit me. This has been the biggest accidental dream. Pinch me. No wait, don't.
Why No.22? It's a matter of personal comfort - read more here.