Jo Macfarlane started her business by pouring candles at her kitchen table.
Now the Anstruther entrepreneur is helping women across the world do the same thing.
Jo started her candle business in 2009, which came from a desire to be sustainable.
Instead of throwing out old candle vessels, she figured she could just reuse them.
She says: “I bought some ingredients, but not really knowing a lot about them. I did some research when I came home and realised that they weren’t very eco-friendly.
“I couldn’t contemplate using these ingredients, so I did more research online and found sustainable soy wax, rather than paraffin wax, and wicks that don’t contain metal.”
As well as selling candles under her own brand, she started doing corporate gifts for a hotel in St Andrews. The tiny jug that poured the few hundred first candles still sits in Jo’s studio.
From the kitchen to the internet
Requests from friends grew Jo’s business further. They wanted to learn how to make their own candles, and Jo set up a workshop around her kitchen table.
The first year she held 10 workshops, which grew to 72 workshops in 2016.
During lockdown, Jo had to pivot her business and put her workshops online. Her three courses – candle making made easy, advanced candle making and ignite your creativity – are spreading across the world.
Jo says: “At the moment, people are taking the workshop in India, Mexico, South America and France.
“If I can encourage women to start a business from their kitchen table, then that’s really what makes me happy. That’s what makes me tick.”
Through her ignite your creativity course she teaches women how to start their own candle business.
At candle making workshops, she noticed people were interested in knowing how to set up their own business, but were too embarrassed to ask. That led to Jo spending 9 months creating the course and putting it online.
Jo Macfarlane focus on sustainability
Jo describes being able to help other women create their own business as a privilege.
Rather than keeping her secrets to herself, she believes “everything doubles” by sharing.
She says: “For me, to see other women start a business from their kitchen tables, see them grow, thrive and leave the jobs they don’t want is amazing.”
Her goal for this year is to serve 1,000 attendees from 50 countries.
While maintaining her online workshops, she is also taking steps to make her business more sustainable.
She already offers a “Fill it up Friday” where people can take their empty candle vessels to her studio and have them filled up.
Now, she will start sending out eucalyptus tree seeds with all her orders.
Jo says: “I’m sending them out with every other to encourage people to use their candle vessel as a little plant pot.”
Constantly looking for ways to make her business sustainable, she hopes her efforts will rub off on her customers across the world as well.
She says: “The business has always been customer driven, the workshops happened because people were asking for them.
“When I started making candles, I thought I would just have my own brand, but the business has been pulled in directions I would have never anticipated.”