The Sheffield Candle Company has been lighting up the city. With its luxury natural soy was products. We spoke to founder James McKennan.

I was inspired to start my business by…

The business kind of started by accident! We started out in my girlfriend’s mums house. She used to have candles everywhere, they lit up the whole house.  I was looking for inspiration at the time and couldn’t help but notice them. So, I purchased a child’s candle making kit. After 6 months of experimenting, I had learnt the basics. Investing £4000 of my own money for materials I managed to develop a selection of simple scented candles. When I took these to Sharrow Vale market, they proved to be a success which was great.

My favourite thing about running my business is…

The freedom that it creates. This is something I’m really able to enjoy. Not that I didn’t enjoy my previous jobs, but the freedom factor I have now from running my own business I would say is my favourite. Also, the perk of going on holiday whenever I want to!

The three words that best describe my business are….

Passionate, innovative and creative.

Sheffield is a great place to start a business because…

What we found interesting was that there is such a good culture in Sheffield and a sense of community. People here buy locally and buy into the brand of the city which has helped us and other local and independent companies to start.

Sheffield is a great place to grow a business because…

Again, I would have to say the community. The support I have had and seeing my business go from strength to strength has allowed me to introduce new products, including new scents, within the Sheffield range.

The best advice I ever got was…

I can’t remember who this was from, but it has to be: don’t wait, learn how to do thing and push yourself. Basically, to try things that slightly scare yourself.

The worst advice I ever got was….

When I started my business everyone suddenly became an expert in the field which didn’t help but the worst bit of advice I would have to say is from everyone saying for me to go on Dragons’ Den!

The Sheffield organisations that have supported me and my business include…

The support I received from the Sheffield City Region’s Launchpad programme has been incredibly helpful. They have given me the confidence to grow and develop my ideas further.

I also received a lot of support from the Sheffield Chamber of Commerce and from other independent businesses.

Monica F Hewitt florists was the first to stock the candles and Paper Moon was the first gift shop to sell them. Both achievements were real milestones.

The main challenge facing my industry/sector are…

There are certain challenges that I set myself. I think it is really important that we keep the local feel, ensuring all the candles are handmade and contain the best ingredients. This provides a challenge for ourselves, to ensure quality.

In general, there is far more saturated competition within the sector than we anticipated but this is not necessarily a bad thing.

In 5 years’ time I expect my business to…

Be profitable! On a serious note I want to further develop the company by having a proper in-house team for sales and customer service.

I want Sheffield Candle Company to be a fully self-serviced business, introducing new products – this would be a great way to celebrate our third year of business.

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