The Price of Small Businesses & Their Products

This blog post has been inspired by someone recently asking me why my candles cost so much. Why should someone pay “considerably more” for my candles when they can get candles for just £1 in supermarkets and bargain stores? It’s maybe a fair question to some, so let me explain.

I started making candles 9 years ago. I’ve always loved scented candles and the ambience they create, but I was frustrated that the majority of candles on the market at that time seemed to lack scent throw after the first burn. And they tunnelled badly. I began to question why, and suspect that some candles on the market are only scented towards the top so that you can smell them when you lift off the lid, but the company saves money by not fragrancing them throughout.

It took the first year of experimenting with making candles before I was confident to give them to family and friends. When I first started out I learned about the different kind of waxes, wicks, fragrances and containers available. There was a LOT of costly trial and error, believe me!

I started out making soy wax candles. I was attracted by the eco and vegan friendly, clean burning, sustainable properties that this wax boasted. My candles are now made from a soy/vegetable wax hybrid. This retains all the above properties, but it’s a specially formulated harder wax that in my opinion sets better and burns longer. This wax is made in Scotland, which in turn supports another small British business. #winwin. In fact, all my candle supplies are sourced from UK based small businesses.

I researched and learned about wicks and how it’s so important to select the correct wick size for your container. Wicks are made from different materials and can be coated or uncoated. Add in that different fragrances burn will differently to others, this means that a simple candle wick isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. I use a range of different size cotton wicks coated in natural wax that I have thoroughly tested. I put all the knowledge I’ve gained into a handy candle care sheet which comes with every candle so that if you follow the instructions, you candle will burn properly and not leave any wasted wax.

And as for fragrance, I spend more money from the outset on high quality paraben & phthalate free fragrances that will give you the cleanest and strongest burn.

What a minefield. How easy would it be to get all of the above wrong?!

This means that when you’re buying one of my candles you’re not just buying the pretty packaging that I’ve carefully designed and the gorgeous scent, you’re also buying the 9 years of experimentation, blood, sweat and tears (metaphorically- these aren’t part of the candle ingredients.)

Factor in that from the price of each product I need to pay for the materials. As a small business where money and storage space aren’t abundant, this means that I can’t buy in massive bulk like the well-established companies. I also need to pay for utilities. I also need to pay tax. And by creating a product that someone could potentially burn their house down with- I need to pay insurance!

I melt the wax in small batches and hand pour each candle individually which is time consuming. I don’t rely on machinery. This means that each candle is carefully controlled and the best quality it can be, but this means that my time needs to be compensated. I’m trying to run a business here after all.

So when you think of it like this, my candle prices are actually a total bargain! After writing this, I’m starting to think that I need to hike the prices UP…

Hopefully I’ve explained WHY my candles cost more than some others on the market. And I’m happy for people to buy a £1, half-filled candle probably made in China if they want to. Which by the way, won’t adhere to the strict CLP safety rules that chandlers here in the UK must abide with.

So please, do not try and make me feel guilty about my “overpriced” candles. Well, you can if you want, but I’m simply not going to.

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But this isn’t just about me & my candles. It applies to my artwork, my other products, my Interior Design and Colour Packages. It applies to all products and services offered by other Small Businesses. The value of products and services can’t and shouldn’t be judged on monetary value alone. You’re buying all those hours they spent training and perfecting.

I try and buy from small businesses when I can because I know the amount of love, care and attention that they put in, trying to sell what they truly believe in and are passionate about.

In the world of one-click Amazon or internet shopping (which I’m not adverse to by the way, I do it too) it’s easier and more convenient to shop this way. But are you helping small businesses on there sustain their livelihood, or are you placing money into a global company pocket which avoids paying tax? This is another subject I could talk about all day… If I see on seller on a site, I’ll try and Google to see if they have their own website and buy directly. This saves them fees, and will probably save you money in return as sellers on big sites often have to put their prices up.

SMALL BUSINESS SATURDAY this year is on Saturday 30th November 2019. What if everyone went to an independent shop, market or website and bought even just 1 thing from a small business on this day? Small business owners literally do a happy dance every time they can celebrate a sale (No, I’m not showing you mine!) This returns money to the local economy and will make you & the owner feel good. #winwin.

If you agree with these sentiments, please share this post. If you’re a small business selling a product or service, or have a family member or friend who does, then please provide a link to the website or Social Media page below, and have a browse of what’s posted. You never know who might see it, and maybe they’ve been looking around for exactly what you offer…?

The Autumn Edit

This is my least favourite time of the year. The clocks have gone back, the heating has gone on and you think it’s bedtime- only to look at your watch and realise that it’s only 7:30pm.

I also suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (it’s a real thing, I didn’t believe it either at first) which doesn’t help. I need to start shovelling high strength Vitamin D into my face now as my body doesn’t produce enough during the Autumn and Winter months and it drains my energy reserves.

But instead of dwelling on the negatives, I’ve looked for the positives instead- we get to snuggle up at home, potentially spend less money and start to semi-hibernate. We don’t have to shave our legs as often (optional.) Christmas is just around the corner too. And I consume copious amounts of hot chocolate with cream & marshmallows- that’s not a summer drink.

I decided to create my “Autumn Edit” of essential items that will make you feel good and keep you cosy at home, with price points to suit all budgets.

THROWS & BLANKETS.

This is my number one must. Cold? Feeling a bit down or under the weather? Life falling apart? Wrap yourself up in a cosy throw. It’s like a material hug, you’ll feel loads better. Mine is always attached to me on the rare chance I sit down on the sofa, and I spread it over my bed at night as another layer for warmth (it’s better to sleep in a cold bedroom.) I got given my throw from John Lewis as a present, and whilst it might seem a “boring” gift it saved me buying it myself. It’s lasted years and I wouldn’t be without it. In fact each member of the household has their own throw so there’s no stealing, snatching or fighting going on. I’ve selected these throws/blankets for you to browse:

Bargain: Marl Fleece Throw (various colours) from ALDI £9.99.

Mid-Range: Matt Velvet Quilted Throw (various colours & sizes) from NEXT £50-£80.

Luxury: Premium Faux Fur throw 200x250cm (various colours) JOHN LEWIS £95.

CUSHIONS.

Some people hate cushions. They look lovely on the sofa, but then people move them or casually chuck them on the floor. But you need to embrace your cushions- literally. Choose ones that have lovely textures. My partner jokes that I stroke my favourite cushion like it’s a cat. Except it’s not a joke- I do. I actually find it really soothing & calming. I also cuddle them too. It keeps me warm and satisfies my sense of touch. Here’s my favourite textured cushions on the market at the moment:

Bargain: Mongolian Fur cushion 58x58cm (various colours) from MATALAN £16.

Mid-range: Reagan cushion 50x50cm from HABITAT was £60, now £25.

Luxury: Ginko in Coral Velvet Cushion 45x45cm from Annajacobsart.com £79.

CANDLES & CANDLEHOLDERS.

You’ll know that I LOVE candles. It’s not just the scent, but the ambience they bring to every room. Everything looks better in candlelight, and it provides a relaxing, feel-good factor. When buying scented candles have a look at the type of wax used, pay attention to how synthetic they smell and where they’re made- Europe have specific guidelines for companies to adhere to, whereas China, etc do not. Given that candles have the power to burn your house down, I’d definitely recommend that you do your research before purchasing.

Bargain: Buy plain & unscented tealights or pillar candles from IKEA or your local supermarket. Keep them in tealight holders or plain/patterned heatproof glasses or jars so that the candle light dances around the room.

Mid-range: Ok, I’m biased, but Quirk & Colour have 2 candle ranges- LIVING & LUXE. They’re made with Eco & Vegan friendly ingredients, thoroughly tested & insured, and carefully curated to cater for everyone. Prices from £12+

Luxury: Abigail Ahern Gold large pineapple lantern DEBENHAMS £30.

RUGS.

It’s hard enough dragging yourself out of bed on some dark mornings without the shock of swinging your feet out and them hitting the cold, hard floor. If you don’t have carpet in your bedroom (or even if you do) then think about investing in a warm, textured rug and make sure you get out the right side of the bed every morning. I recommend:

Bargain: Anti-Slip Luxurious Faux Sheepskin Rug 60x90cm DUNELM £19.

Mid-range: Home Snuggle Shaggy Runner 150x80cm ARGOS £30.

Luxury: Faux Fur Rug 90x120cm NEXT £90.

HOT WATER BOTTLE.

I hear lots of people saying that they can’t have the heating on because their partner objects, or turns it off again. Regardless of my own thoughts on this matter, they can’t object to you boiling the kettle and filling up a warming, cosy companion for the sofa or in bed. And if they do, then don’t make them their tea or coffee ever again.

Bargain: Hot water bottle with Faux Fur cover GEORGE @ ASDA £7.

Luxury: Multi Fair Isle (lambswool mix) hot water bottle BODEN £35.

LIGHTBOXES.

If you suffer from S.A.D too then seriously consider purchasing yourself a game changing “Light Therapy Box” Turn it on for at least 30 minutes to an hour every morning (not late afternoon or evening as it stimulates your Cortisol levels and too much will affect your sleep.) You’ll soon notice the difference! And if you struggle to get up in the morning and dread turning the light on suddenly and burning your eyes then consider investing in a “sunrise” alarm clock. They might seem expensive upfront, but you’ll use them everyday and you can’t put a price on feeling good every morning. I have both of these products and I seriously recommend “LUMIE” as a trusted brand and company.

Lightbox: LUMIE Vitamin L Slim SAD light JOHN LEWIS £90.

LUMIE Desklamp touch dimmable SAD light JOHN LEWIS £144.

Sunrise alarm clock: LUMIE Sunrise Alarm ARGOS £40.

LUMIE Bodyclock Glow Wake Up to Daylight JOHN LEWIS from £75.

This is the season now to snuggle up indoors in dressing gowns, bed socks and comfy lounge wear. Drink hot chocolate and hot Ribena. Keep warm, keep hydrated, keep moisturised and take extra vitamins if needs be. Relax in a hot bath with as many candles as your bathroom can handle, put on a pampering face pack or stick your feet in a warm, bubbly foot spa or bowl of warm soapy water for even just 10 minutes. Slow down if you can and look after yourself because the Christmas chaos is nearly upon us.

Actually, maybe Autumn isn’t so bad after all…?

Are you happy with how your home makes you FEEL? Take our QUIZ to find out!