Luxury home décor and fragrance business, ALTERIOR and Puddles, originally began life as two unconnected businesses. The founders, Laura Bentley and Carly Asquith, were childhood friends who went their separate ways after leaving school.

Puddle Duck Wax Melts started life in 2019 when Laura began seeking out fragrances for the home but was concerned about the toxins found in many products. Her answer was to create her own range of soy wax melts.

Laura’s range now totals over 140 fragrances. She’s also in the process of developing an eco-range of soy wax candles with blends of essential oils.

Meanwhile, Carly was working as a primary school teacher, but the death of a close friend in 2020 led to her spending evenings working on a creative business to help her with grieving.

She said: “I began working with jesmonite, a non-toxic acrylic based resin, which is similar to ceramic when it comes out of the mould. My product range includes trays ornaments, plant pots, reed diffusers and Christmas baubles. The colours can be mixed to order, matching a customer’s colour scheme, and nothing goes to waste. Anything left over can be reused in other pieces.”

When Laura and Carly reconnected after the loss of Carly’s friend, they soon realised that they had complementary products and similar business goals, with sustainability at the forefront of both their brands. “Our products fit so well, and we felt that working together was the only way we could scale our businesses,” said Laura.

They moved into a Business Village unit, doubling as a workspace, last September.

“We felt there were opportunities for growth in The Business Village and had a good feeling when we looked around. Other places wanted to tie us into contracts and leases, which was a risk for such a new business, but here we have both flexible terms and business support.

“Kevin Steel, the business development manager here, has put us in touch with so many useful contacts already. He immediately suggested we enrol on the Scaleup360 business support project which The Business Village is helping deliver in partnership with Sheffield Hallam University, getting help from Kevin is like having a ‘Dragon’ on board.

“ScaleUp 360 has already given us focus and direction. We were asked to create three, five and ten year goals on a recent workshop. It was really good to see them written down as it gave us a timeline of where we are going in the business.”

With big ambitions for the future, Laura and Carly say that ScaleUp 360 opened their minds to other ideas. Their immediate plan is to complete a rebrand which will bring the two businesses together and secure their products in several retail outlets.

Are you eligible for ScaleUp 360 support? If you can answer yes to the below, we want to hear from you!

You are either a pre-start entrepreneur/business or a small or medium-sized enterprise (SMEs)

You are looking to ScaleUp from where you are today. This could be:

  • Starting a business, or scaling up an existing venture
  • Launching a new product or service
  • Improving systems and processes
  • Designing new or improved packaging
  • Taking on your first employee, or increasing existing staff numbers
  • You are located in the Sheffield City Region which covers Barnsley, Bassetlaw, Bolsover, Chesterfield, Derbyshire Dales, Doncaster, North East Derbyshire, Rotherham and Sheffield.
  • For further details visit scaleup360.co.uk or email scaleup360.shu.ac.uk

To find out more about The Business Village:

www.barnsleybic.co.uk or contact business development manager Kevin Steel on 01226 249590 / 07970 930560 or via www. Barnleybic.co.uk/staff/kevin-steel