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Filling candle jars gave Jo a bright business idea

Jo Macfarlane now runs candle making classes.
Jo Macfarlane now runs candle making classes.

Jo Macfarlane waxes lyrical about her move to Murray Studios to grow her candle-making venture.


What does your business do?

I hand make bespoke private label candles for luxury hotels, businesses and for corporate gifting.

I also run candle making workshops and sell my luxury Scottish candles through my website.

Why did you start in business?

The business started at my kitchen table as a hobby after I decided to refill lovely empty candle jars.

How did you get to where you are?

By being tenacious and embracing change. When my business began I didn’t think I would be running candle making workshops but that’s what the customers wanted.

Who has helped you along the way?

Business Gateway Fife helped me successfully apply for funding to buy my huge wax melter which has enabled me to increase production. Currently I’m benefitting from Business Gateway’s DigitalBoost programme, which will help me grow the brand online.

I am also part of The Social Sales Girls network and was part of The Acorn Accelerator programme.

What is your biggest mistake?

In the past, if I hit a plateau I gave up. Now, I push past it by changing or adapting to current situations. I think making mistakes is good if you learn from them.

What are your main achievements to date?

Being part of Small Business Saturday has been huge for me.

Last year I won one of the 100 places in the run up to the day itself.

We were then invited to Downing Street in December, where I had a stand.

It was an incredible experience and I am very grateful for the opportunity.

I was also invited down to London for International Women’s Day alongside 19 other women to discuss #pressforprogress. In May, I was shortlisted for ‘Bricks and Clicks’ Best multi-channel business at The Small Awards and I am heading to The House Of Lords in June for a summer reception on behalf of The Small Business Charter.

Running a marathon and reading 100 business and self-development books in a year are a couple of recent personal achievements.

Hopes for the future?

The business is growing organically.

Last year the workshops grew by 400% and are likely to grow by 200% this year.

I am also looking at the possibility of franchising the workshop side of the business to give other people the opportunity to start a business from their own kitchen table.

Do you want to recruit?

I’m open to growth.

What’s the hardest thing about running your own business?

Wearing different hats all day.

If there is a tech problem you just have to figure it out.

Sometimes it takes hours, and that all adds up. Having a good network of support is essential.

Any advice for wannabe entrepreneurs?

Start from your kitchen table, build your network and always ask for what you want. My parents always said “if you don’t ask you don’t get”.

Always follow up after any event that you have been at where you exchanged business cards. You won’t remember them and they won’t remember you in a couple of days’ time so send a little ‘nice to meet you’ email. Get in touch with Business Gateway for advice early on.

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