Iggy Box Collaboration
Some of you might be aware that I collaborated with Iggy Box for their March candle. Since then I’ve had time to reflect on the experience and thought it would make sense to make it my next blog topic.
Iggy Box were wonderful to work with as they are so passionate about supporting small businesses and sharing their products with a community of candle lovers. Once you subscribe to Iggy Box they send out a different candle each month, which is produced by a unique artisan candle maker. So it’s really a win-win for the small businesses and the customers as they’re able to discover new makers and funky scents.
When the opportunity came to collaborate with Iggy Box, I couldn’t wait to get started. In between my shifts working on ICU at the hospital, I would plan the next tasks required to fulfil the big order. The most challenging aspect was increasing production from a small batch of candles (around about 10), to suddenly producing close to 100 in each session. It taught me how important it was to organise each stage so that I could ensure the candles were prepared for a deadline (again, something I’d never really experienced in my candle making journey yet).
The planning was essential as I had to ensure I ordered in enough stock from my supplier (+ a little extra in case of any mishaps like broken containers or delayed delivery etc.). Once all the stock arrived, it was then a question of where and how I organised it to ensure the candle making process was as smooth as possible. Thankfully, my parents kindly let me take over the kitchen and the dining room for a few months.
After I had finally found a home for all the stock, I broke up the whole process of candle making into multiple steps. With the help of my amazing Mum, we were able to spend days cleaning the containers, preparing the wicks, melting and pouring the wax, labelling the candles and packaging them all. As I mentioned earlier, whenever I had some time off between my shifts at the hospital, Mum and I would wake up at the break of dawn, put on our favourite Spotify playlist, and crack on with the candles. I bought so much wax, that my Dad kindly invested in a trolley to wheel the wax in and out of the room when I needed it (each box weighed close to 30kg!). I think that partly why the whole experience was so enjoyable (although stressful at times), was because there was a real “can-do” attitude at home. I couldn’t fault the help and support my Mum and Dad gave me throughout what probably seemed like an eternity to them, what with wax everywhere and the house constantly smelling like a concoction of flowers, herbs, spices and fruits.
Once all the candles had been poured, labelled and packaged before the deadline, I felt a big sense of achievement. What initially felt a little overwhelming to produce such a high quantity of candles, made me realise that it’s perfectly possible when you have a clear goal and action plan with a supportive team behind you. The experience taught me so much about myself, my business and the candle-making industry and is something that I would very much like to do again in the future and encourage others to do something similar.
Below I’ve included the Q and A that I completed with Iggy Box but please feel free to read the full article on their website. I would also encourage anyone who loves a unique and hand poured candle to sign up to their subscription box. You won’t regret it!
Q & A
How long have you been making candles and is it your full-time job?
It’s been so long now I don’t exactly remember but I have been making candles and experimenting with different scents for a few years now. However, it was only about a year ago when I first thought about actually selling them. A lot of friends and family suggested that I do so and I’m glad they did as it finally gave me the encouragement I needed. Although it’s my dream to make candles for a living, I’m very lucky that I work full time as a physiotherapist in the NHS in London.
Where do you make the candles?
In a small little village in West Kent I hand pour, label and package all of my candles. It’s where I grew up and have lived for over 20 years and my parents are kind enough to let me have my workshop there and support me with my passion. I take my inspiration from places around Kent and use them as names for each of the candles. I try my best to capture the beauty of these places in my scents so I can share them with the world.
What inspired you to start making candles and your brand?
I’ve always loved the idea of giving someone a gift that’s handmade it feels so much more special. This initially started out with items of knitting that I’d created for family and friends, as you can see, I like making things with my hands. However, the older I got, the more I’ve appreciated a simple, elegant and beautifully scented candle. I mean who doesn’t love a candle!? So, with help from a friend, I started learning the craft of making my own candles and developed a passion for it. Since then I haven’t looked back. Family and friends suggested that I start selling my candles to the public, so I finally took the leap last year and did exactly that, and so Natalie Gill Ltd was born.
What do you love the most about being an artisan candle maker and why?
I really love the fact that I can make something that can be enjoyed by anyone. When you think about it, how special is that? I really do get a lot more satisfaction when I create a handmade gift for someone rather than purchasing a present from a store. It just feels more personal to me.
What is your brand ethos/passion behind the brand?
Each and every candle is reusable, refillable and recyclable. Once a customer burns one of my candles, the container can be returned for a refill. That way, the vessel is never put to landfill, which fully supports the environmental ethos that my company stands for.
What is your favourite scent note in a candle and why?
I would have to pick two – cedar and pine as they always remind me of my favourite season which is winter. A season filled with log fires, mulled wine, family and of course Christmas and anyone who knows me, knows that I adore Christmas!
Who inspires you the most?
It definitely has to be my Mum. She has the patience of a saint and the kindest heart on earth. If I can take just an inch of the love she has shown me and pour it into each and every candle then I think that that is something truly special.
What have been your biggest achievement so far and why?
I would have to say qualifying as a physiotherapist and obtaining my dream job in one of the best NHS Trusts in London after I left university. I feel very rewarded to be able to give something back to society each day.
Do you have a fun fact or anecdote about your brand?
I guess it’s not a fun fact but just a fact that hopefully someone gets the joy of being able to smell one of my candles but also understand how I am trying to help the environment. For me that’s a win win. As my candle containers are refillable, I really want to encourage customers to use the hashtag: #candleforlife.
Do you have any New Year’s Resolutions or specific goals in 2020?
I would like to devote more time to travelling and exploring new cities and countries to gain an understanding of the different cultures and to see what they have to offer. It might even give me inspiration for a new candle collection!
I also plan on attending more craft fairs this Autumn/Winter so that I can get my brand out there and start sharing some of my creations with everyone, along with contacting local shops to see if they would be interested in stocking my unique brand of candles.