The butcher option was a no-no (I’m a veggie), and baking involves following recipes (I’m more the improvisation type), so candlestick making it was. The six-month journey to set up a new candle business…
The idea of a launching a new business with my partner, Bingo, has bubbled away for a couple of years. Something creative, no shop involved, not too much stock, plus a nod to the environment and sustainability. That was the brief.
As you can imagine, ticking all boxes was never going to be easy. As a freelance writer, I already enjoy flexibility, a healthy dash of freedom and the luxury of picking and choosing the kind of work I take on.
With other businesses, you tend to be driven by market forces, the need for a “shop window” of sorts, the ebb and flow of customers all wanting slightly different things as trends change.
We didn’t want to jump on bandwagons, and it was never about making a quick million. We wanted to create something that added value to people’s lives, something that they wanted to buy rather than needed.
Hand-poured soy wax candles with pure essential oils were the perfect fit.
A candle for Christmas
It all started in the Autumn of 2018. Tired of buying meaningless presents that often sit in cupboards, we announced that we’d be making gifts for friends and family. There’d been a batch of home-made blackberry jam successfully created, and the candles were a nice addition to make up a mini gift set.
So that was that. Buy the basics, learn the core techniques and see what emerged. Luckily, it all progressed as planned. Quaint candles, in charity shop teacups, with a blend of Christmassy essential oils. Everyone loved them.
Let’s start a candle business
Moving into early 2019 there was an itch that needed scratching. We’d dipped toes in the waxy water, bought a range of oils and knew there was mileage in our new-found “hobby”.
There was a good spread of business skills between us, and in recent years we’d both pursued a greener way of living.
The mission to source most of the materials, ingredients and services from eco-aware suppliers began.
From sustainable soy wax crops (definitely no paraffin), reusable tins (or recyclable) cotton/paper wicks (no lead) and hand-blended essential oils (not bought-in fragrance “blends”) and even product labels printed on recycled paper with vegetable-based inks (cheers Hesketh Print).
Of course, any wrapping and packing had to come in recycled paper materials (no plastic) and be minimal, where possible.
What’s in a name?
The business name came early on. Tarn. The Lake District has been a regular destination for both of us over the years, and tarns sit atop mountains offering beautiful pools of water. The candles, we decided, produced fabulous pools of waxy light.
Then, rather than samey “Moonlight”, “Passion” and “Name-Your-Emotion” kind of product names, we hit on the idea of real tarns dotted across Cumbria and also the edge of Lancashire. Perfect. An element of mystery, but connections to nature.
The reality was much tougher than first envisioned – especially when the legal stuff, admin and technicalities had to be ironed out. But we did it. Launched the website and booked a slot at a local well-being and yoga festival in mid-July.
The latter gave us real focus, a target, and also incentive to fine-tune the “brand” and everything it represented. The results were well received and we enjoyed the process.
Candles and melts for any occasion
From the first customers that contacted us through friends, then more from recommendations, plus follow-up orders from people who had asked for samples, we knew we’d developed something that made people smile, added value to their homes and carried a strong environmental message.
It’s a niche market, no doubt about that, but like vegetarianism and veganism, it’s growing. More people care about the products they buy, where they come from and how they are disposed of, recycled or reused.
Tarn Candles and Melts offers blends for any occasion. We love the subtle look, the pastel-coloured labels and the home-made nature of much of the supporting marketing material and packing.
If you’d like to keep track of progress, learn about our latest candle blends and enjoy details about our ongoing visits to the tarns that carry the names of our products, follow us on the various social media feeds we update regularly.
Finally, many thanks to everyone who has supported our candle-making business through to its launch…