Today we welcome a brand new interviewee to the Saturday Small Business Chat fold. Now that the series has been going for over two years, most of the posts will be updates. But I can always squeeze in a few new ones, and I’m delighted to welcome friend-of-a-friend Rozelle Faulkner from candle-making company, The Indigo Chick today. Rozelle is another interviewee who started her business for family reasons – we do seem to fall into three camps, don’t we: made redundant, fancied a change and doing it for the family, and she’s done her research and started to build a lovely – if very new – business!
What’s your business called? When did you set it up?
My business is called The Indigo Chick. I started up in May 2013 but didn’t start selling until I launched my website on 1st July.
What made you decide to set up your own business?
My daughter starts school in September and the plan was that I would be at home, but busy bringing up a new baby. Sadly, my son was stillborn, and I didn’t want to try to get a part-time job in case I got pregnant again. Self-employment seemed like the perfect solution.
What made you decide to go into this particular business area?
I originally wanted to make Teacup candles as gifts and thought it seemed easy. Once I started researching candle making (or ‘Chandlery’), I soon realised it was a very complex business and fraught with frustrations, yet highly rewarding. The quest to make ‘the perfect candle’ became my mission and it was only once I discovered that I was pretty good at it that I considered it as a business.
Had you run your own business before?
I had been a demonstrator for the craft company, Stampin’ Up! a few years before. This required me to be self-employed but I mainly did it to fund my crafting obsession, so it didn’t really work as a business.
How did you do it? Did you launch full-time, start off with a part-time or full-time job to keep you going … ?
As I was already a stay-at-home Mum, I didn’t need to worry about giving up the day job. However, I consider myself ‘part time’ at the moment as the majority of my time is spent looking after my daughter. She often tells me off for doing too much ‘computing’ or trying to pack orders. I sometimes get her to help if she’s in the mood, which can be fun. She’s become quite adept at sticking safety labels to the base of the candles 🙂
What do you wish someone had told you before you started?
“If you buy a new batch of wax, make a test candle first to ensure that it requires the same wick as the last batch”. I had no idea that the same brand of wax, bought from the same supplier, could vary in how it burned. I found that out after making over £100 worth of stock, which I then couldn’t sell. It’s one of the ‘joys’ of working with a natural material.
What would you go back and tell your newly entrepreneurial self?
Don’t stress about problems, as they are inevitable in business. Focus on overcoming them and turning them to your advantage.
What do you wish you’d done differently?
Spent less money on numerous fragrances in the beginning. I would have been better off trying a few and finding out how different types of scent react in Soy wax before buying more.
What are you glad you did?
Taught myself Inkscape (free online graphics software) so that I could design my own logo and packaging. It was hard work and frustrating, but it saved me a fortune and I can’t put a price on how good I feel when someone compliments my design, knowing it was all my own work.
What’s your top business tip?
Listen to your customers and potential customers! Alan Sugar tells The Apprentice candidates to “Smell what sells”, and this is very apt for my line of work! If I’m asked for a product or scent that I wasn’t planning on producing, I make sure that I include it in my plans for the future of the business, even if it’s one I can’t stand 😀
How has it gone since you started? Have you grown, diversified or stayed the same?
It’s still early days for me and yet my business plan has changed already. I’ve added wax melts to my range and I’m currently working on introducing scented tealights too. The most difficult part is sourcing affordable recycled packaging. I refuse to go with the plastic boxes everyone else uses, as it just doesn’t fit with my ethos or my brand.
Where do you see yourself and your business in a year’s time?
I hope to have broken even financially. I would love to have a healthy database of clients who are repeat customers and are happy to recommend me and my products to their friends.
I’m impressed with the care and research Rozelle has put into her new company, especially while going through family heartbreak. She’s a real inspiration, and I’m sure that her policies of doing her research, learning how to do things, experimenting and learning, listening to her customers and sticking to her brand and ethics – things that many of us only learn to do as we go along, not right at the beginning – will stand her in good stead for her first year of trading. I think it’s lovely for her daughter to see her entrepreneurial spirit and even help out a little, too! I look forward to hearing what happens next …
You can find Rozelle’s lovely candles at www.theindigochick.co.uk, and email her or call her on 07578 486 669. She’s also on Twitter and Facebook. Please note, Rozelle is taking a rest from the business at the moment for personal reasons. We wish her all the best for the future, whatever she decides to do.
If you’ve enjoyed this interview, please see more small business chat, the index to all the interviewees, and information on how you can have your business featured. If you’re considering setting up a new business or have recently done so, why not take a look at my new book, Going It Alone At 40: How I Survived my First Year of Full-Time Self-Employment.