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Creating ethical, sustainable products - with Maame Sapong - Purscent
Episode 20026th January 2024 • Bring Your Product Idea to Life • Vicki Weinberg
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Today I'm speaking with Maame Sapong from Purscents. Maame creates luxury home fragrances like candles, reed diffusers and other aromatherapy scented products. Her commitment goes merely beyond creating delightful scents. She's also dedicated to establishing a sustainable brand that strives to make a meaningful and possible impact within the candle industry.

We had a great conversation about how she juggles building a product business whilst in a full time job, how she decides what to outsource and invest in, and what she can do herself, and the importance of pacing yourself in the early days. Maame also shares fascinating insights into how she makes her candles, how she ensures they are sustainable as possible, and how her first hand experiences in Ghana seeing the impact of plastic waste and flooding have renewed her commitment to making sure her business is ethical and environmentally conscious. 

  • An introduction to herself and her businesses (01:26)
  • The inspiration for creating her business (01:54)
  • The steps she has taken to ensure her products are sustainable and ethical (04:40)
  • Building a product business whilst working a full time job (10:07)
  • Learning to outsource (13:51)
  • Deciding where to invest in her business (for instance photography) and where to save money (20:03)
  • The importance of pacing yourself in the early days (21:22)
  • Her experiences at Top Drawer (24:04)
  • Championing sustainability by creating candle refills (25:34)
  • How her first hand experiences in Ghana seeing the impact of plastic waste and flooding have informed her business values (31:39)
  • Her number one piece of advice for product creators (33:56)

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This month’s podcast episodes are proudly sponsored by my own book - Bring Your Product Idea to Life

Have you ever had a great idea for a product? Or does creating a product to sell appeal to you? Where do you begin? How do you come up with a product idea? Or, if you have an idea, how do you know if it’s even viable? In Bring Your Product Idea to Life, I take you through the process of creating your product, step-by-step. From developing your product idea, to finding suppliers and launching your product we cover it all. The book includes advice on how to price your product, where to sell it and how to find out if anyone will actually buy it. Designed to help you make real progress, Bring Your Product to Life is both practical and motivational. Every chapter includes clear action steps, so you know exactly what to do and when. This isn’t just a book for reading - this is a book for doing.

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Transcripts

Vicki Weinberg:

Welcome to the Bring Your Product Idea to Life podcast.

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This is the podcast for you if

you're getting started selling

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products, or if you'd like to

create your own product to sell.

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I'm Vicki Weinberg, a product

creation coach and Amazon expert.

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Every week I share friendly, practical

advice, as well as inspirational

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stories from small businesses.

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Let's get started.

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Today I'm speaking with

Maame Sapong from Purscent.

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Maame creates luxury home fragrances

like candles, re diffusers and

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other aromatherapy scented products.

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Her commitment goes merely beyond

creating delightful scents.

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She's also dedicated to establishing

a sustainable brand that strives

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to make a meaningful and possible

impact within the candle industry.

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So we had a really great conversation

about all things candles.

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Um, I learned a lot about

candles from this discussion.

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Um, and all the things that Maame

is doing and is committed to.

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Continuing to do to make sure her business

is as ethical and sustainable as possible.

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She also has a really innovative product,

which I am not going to tell you about

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here because you'll have to listen, that

I've never seen the likes of anywhere

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else and I think is absolutely amazing.

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And I can't wait for you to

hear her tell us all about that.

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So I would love now to

introduce you to Maame.

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So hi, Maame thank you

so much for being here.

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Maame Sapong: Thank you for having me.

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Vicki Weinberg: Oh, you're welcome.

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Can we start by you give an

introduction to yourself, your

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business and what you sell?

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Maame Sapong: Okay.

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So, uh, my name is Maame Sapong.

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Um, I'm the founder of Purscent

and Purscent is all about creating

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luxury candles, home diffusers, and

other aromatherapy centre products.

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Um, we launched in 2022, um, I

think with a real sustainable edge.

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To the brand and that's what we hope to be

a very sustainable home fragrance brand.

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Vicki Weinberg: Thank you.

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And what inspired you

to start your business?

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Maame Sapong: So during the pandemic,

um, I think everybody was stuck at home.

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I work in finance, both my

husband and I work in finance.

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And I never see myself as a creative

person, but what I started doing, well,

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I started teaching myself how to paint.

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So I watched videos on YouTube, just

to break up the monotony of just

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being stuck indoors all the time.

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Um, so I even tried growing vegetables,

I haven't got green fingers at all.

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So I actually killed the

tomatoes I tried to plant.

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But then what I also started doing a lot

was, um, um, initially when I started, I

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used to just buy any good brands I knew,

but they were giving my husband headaches.

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So um, I had to stop and that's when

I started looking into actually all

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the different kind of ingredients

that go into candle making.

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Um, and I started teaching

myself on YouTube.

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So when things started lifting, um,

in the summer of:

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Um, and we were sat at the garden

cafe and I could just smell all

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these fresh plants, lavender.

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It was a really nice garden.

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Um, we were sat in there and I thought

actually I could bring these scents home.

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So then I started looking

into aromatherapy, um, as an

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option to help keep me relaxed,

help, um, improve my moods.

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Um, and so I thought actually

I could make candles.

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So then I started looking at

alternatives to paraffin wax and

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everybody gave me such good feedback.

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So I thought, why not?

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I could actually make this for a living.

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Um, and that's when it started.

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So I think it was just because the

store bought candles gave my husband

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a headache, it got me looking into

alternatives and yeah, and here we are.

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Vicki Weinberg: Oh, wow.

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Thank you for sharing that.

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And I'm assuming that the store bought

candles, did they give your husband a

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headache because of the ingredients?

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Because until I met you and we

spoke about candles, I don't, didn't

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know much about it, if I'm honest.

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Maame Sapong: Yes, I think it was because,

for example, paraffin, um, it releases

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quite a lot of toxins in the air and

some of the synthetic fragrances as

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well, um, they do release toxins into

the air and different people react to

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scents and all of those differently.

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I didn't react to them,

but my husband did.

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It gave him headaches.

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So that's when I started

looking at alternatives.

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So I think it's because

of what goes into candles.

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We actually underestimate how

much is our indoor air is polluted

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when we burn a lot of candles.

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Um, I never thought about it until

my husband started reacting to it.

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Vicki Weinberg: That's really interesting.

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And I'll be honest.

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I never thought about it until I saw

you talking about it on Instagram.

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And then I went around and looked

at all my candles and saw what

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sort of wax they were made of.

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Um, so do you want to tell us about what

the ingredients are for your candles?

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Because I know that's what

makes them quite unique.

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Maame Sapong: Yes.

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So we only use rapeseed and coconut wax

in our candles and we scent them with 100

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percent essential oils and plant extracts.

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So we, uh, there are other alternative

waxes I could have used like soy

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or beeswax, but I actually sat down

during my research to think about how

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I could make my business different.

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Soy, the research that I found was that

a lot of the soy on the market comes

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from Northern America where they're

actually destroying forests because

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of the popularity of soy, um, there's

a lot of deforestation happening and

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there's some GMO in, in, in soy wax.

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So I think as personally, I

didn't feel that was right for me.

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Um, and I looked at other alternatives.

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So rapeseed grows in the UK and it grows

in Europe, but it's quite a hard wax.

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So it's mixed with coconut um, to

soften it up a bit and the coca.

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So we started looking for alternative

suppliers who would buy or

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produce these waxes sustainably.

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And so then we decided to go for the

rapeseed wax and then essential oils

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are just, yeah, natural scents from

plants and leaves and things like that.

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So yeah, that makes it all natural and

not fragrances that are synthetic or made.

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So yeah, so that's what

we use in our candles.

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Vicki Weinberg: Thank you.

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Maame Sapong: Sorry, I like

to go around in a long way.

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Vicki Weinberg: No, not at all.

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Thank you.

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No, I think it's really interesting.

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And I've, something as you, as

you know, I've used your candles

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and something I've noticed, well,

there's two things that I've noticed.

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One is that they burn

for a very long time.

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And the other is that the

scents are really strong.

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Even when the candle isn't lit, you

really get the sense from the wax.

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Um, why, why is that?

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Because I know that you will know,

because I'm sure this is something

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you've made a conscious decision about?

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Maame Sapong: Yes, I think it's because

essential oils are quite expensive.

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So lots of some people who use essential

oils in their candles use reduced

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amounts just because it is expensive

and it makes a candle quite expensive.

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And if you want to be an affordable

brand, it's really difficult to use it

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the way you have to, to make the scent

stand out or so you get uh, good scent

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through, but we are quite generous in

how much essential oils we put in our

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candles, enough to make it burn well, but

then you get the value for money from it.

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Because a lot of feedback I get from

markets is, oh, I burned the candles and

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after a few hours, the top part burns

and I don't really smell it anymore.

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And I keep telling them, try

our candles because we mix the

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whole batch with essential oils.

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Um, yeah, to make it burn

well and for you to get.

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what you bought, a candle that

actually makes a room smell nice.

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So, and they, and one, one of the,

um, characteristics of grapeseed and

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coconut wax is that it really burns

slowly and it burns clean as well.

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So it's, it's a better

alternative to the paraffin wax.

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Vicki Weinberg: Oh, thank you.

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And coming back to the scent.

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So does that mean that some candles are

only scented in like the top bit and

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they're not scented all the way down?

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Maame Sapong: Yes.

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So when you're buying a candle for say

five pounds, and even if it's been made

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with a good wax, it's very expensive to be

able to justify producing it at that low

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cost for you to sell it for five pounds.

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So some manufacturers from the

research I found do actually just

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sent the top part of their candles.

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Some people only scent the middle bit.

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So the wax would harden on the outside

and they would only send the middle.

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So you don't always get

the central you need.

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Um, but lots of independent brands who

are very proud of what they do and the

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businesses they do, they do it very well.

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But when you buy a lot of like

large scale manufactured candles,

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you often compromise on quality.

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Vicki Weinberg: Thank you.

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And actually, this is the sense I

get speaking from business owners

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who hand make their candles.

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I do get the sense that you take a lot

of pride in the quality and there's

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a lot of thought that goes into it.

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Whereas I guess for the bigger

brands, maybe it's a lot more about

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volume and keeping costs down.

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And I know that cost is always an aspect,

an issue for smaller businesses as well.

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Um, but I think there's something really

nice about them being homemade, handmade

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and the thought that goes into it as well.

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Maame Sapong: Yes, yes.

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We make every, we hand make

all our candles, our refills,

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our diffusers, everything is

handmade in house at the moment.

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Vicki Weinberg: And I also don't want

to like gloss over everything we've

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spoken to, because what I'd really love

to know is, so you've talked about your

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inspiration for starting a business and

everything that you do, you know, it's

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quite a big undertaking to research

all of, you know, the ingredients

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and the components, but then also at

the actual making of the candles, how

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did you learn how to, how to do that.

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Maame Sapong: Well, I think my

husband would tell you I'm crazy.

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I like to keep busy because I

do actually have a full time

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job as a financial controller.

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So I am already busy, but I do.

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I've always loved candles and I,

when I wanted to start a business,

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I knew that the initial research,

this quickly highlighted how many

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other brands are in the market.

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Like everybody makes candles because

it's such a low entry product.

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Anybody can just start making a candle,

but the research, I love to research

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before, before I started making

candles, my friends would normally

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contact me if they need anything.

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Oh, mummy, I need to do this,

or I need to go on holiday.

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So I love research.

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So I, it's something that I always enjoy.

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So researching would normally

be in the evenings after work.

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I'll be sat on the sofa and just

read about it or on a day off.

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I don't watch that much TV.

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So for me, doing research is

sort of a hobby, I would say.

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And that's when, yeah, so I managed to.

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And I think what you find with research

is as you start looking into it, you might

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go in with the idea of finding something,

but then something triggers something.

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So it gets you to think

about something else.

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So, for example, when I thought,

actually, how can I create a

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sustainable candle brand initially?

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And the other question for me was, how

do I stand out in such a crowded market?

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So that I have to actually

think about the jars.

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I want to use the packaging I want to use.

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I didn't want any plastic film on it.

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So it meant I went to, I went

for the more expensive, um, um,

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laminations or because I wanted it

to be a brand that was sustainable.

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And even the jars I chose, I chose

jars that could handle a lot of heat.

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So if people have to reuse it in

future, it's available for them to use.

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It won't crack easily.

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If somebody forgets and leaves

their candle, um, for longer than

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the recommended burn time, which

is maximum four hours, because

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some people burn for all day.

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I need a jar that would

withstand that heat.

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So it was just a lot of research

after research after research.

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Um, yeah, and I do enjoy research.

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So yeah, it was a learning process.

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But, um, I think managing

your time well helps.

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So I am quite disciplined with my time.

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I know I have a full

time job and a family.

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Somehow I don't always get it right

and I don't always manage it all well,

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but yeah, managing the time I have.

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Evenings, um, are taken

up by candle making.

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And then Saturday, Saturday,

some Saturdays are taken up

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by candle making and markets.

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Uh, but I always made it a point that

I'm not going to be working on a Sunday.

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Um, so that would be the day that

I would just take a chill pill

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ready for the following week.

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So, yeah, just, yeah, that's it.

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Vicki Weinberg: Yeah, I guess you

have to, because as you say, there's

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always a lot, like whatever everyone's

situation, there's always a lot to

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fit in and manage and I think you're

right, none of us get it exactly right.

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The balance all of the time.

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Um, but it's good that you've got the

boundary of not working on Sundays, I

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have to say, because I think sometimes

it's good to just set a line in the

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sand and say, this is what I won't

do because otherwise I could well

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imagine that, or I don't know, I'd love

to know whether, you know, how time

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consuming making the candles is, but I

can imagine that it could be something

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you could just keep, just keep doing.

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And then of course, all the other

aspects of running the business.

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Um, and you're not doing this full time.

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I imagine it could eat into

every spare hour if you let it.

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Maame Sapong: That's correct.

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Uh, but then I also realized that

I'm strong in certain areas and not.

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So for example, now I do have a

part time social media manager and

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she handles all the social media

because I couldn't do it all alone.

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I'm good with numbers.

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I'm good with making the candles,

so I do make them, but I do also

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appreciate somebody else's talent.

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So I hire a part time freelance

social media manager who helps

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with all of that side of things.

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And she's such a lovely lady.

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So, yeah.

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Vicki Weinberg: That's really good.

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And I think that's really actually good

for people to hear, because I think

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it can be really tempting, especially,

you know, you mentioned that you

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started your business only last year,

especially in the early days, it can

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be tempting to think, okay, I need

to be the person who does everything,

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but I'm sure that, you know, you'll

see the benefits of just freelancing

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something that you're, you know, you

don't particularly like doing, enjoy

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doing, or probably have the time to do.

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Um, yeah.

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I think there's a lot

of benefits for that.

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Maame Sapong: Yes, that's correct.

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That's correct.

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Vicki Weinberg: And coming

back to making the candle.

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So, so you obviously, you know,

you did loads of research,

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but what about the practicals?

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Like, as in, I don't know what you

need to do, melt them, pour them.

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Maame Sapong: Melt the wax, knowing

what temperature to melt them at.

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Um, so I did a few courses

online, um, to learn about all

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the different types of waxes.

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So I think when I decided I was going

to make container candles, I wasn't

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going to make pillars or mold candles,

I was just going to stick with the

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jar and lots of, I did a few online

courses, then I started practicing.

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So lots and lots of practice,

finding out what the right

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temperature is to melt your wax at.

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And a lot of the candle ingredient

suppliers will give you the

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information if you ask them.

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So knowing what's the right temperature

to melt your wax, knowing how much

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ingredients to, sorry, oils to put in.

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Sorry, um, knowing how long you have

to mix it for so that all the essential

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oils actually bonds with the wax.

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Yeah, so just had to learn

it online, uh, most of it and

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lots of testing and practice.

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When you start testing and practicing

how to make it, you've come across all

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the different flaws with you making your

own candles, like when I've heated the

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wax too much, or when I've poured it

into a very cold jar, like learning all

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of those things, it comes with practice.

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Vicki Weinberg: Yeah,

that's really useful.

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Sorry.

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Maame Sapong: Yeah, sorry.

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And I was just about to say, because

I found it so therapeutic, it

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didn't feel like it was a chore.

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I actually do enjoy making the candles.

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I think for me, that's the fun part

because I have quite a serious job.

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Um, and so for me, I think the making

of the candles was the outlet for me.

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And that's, yeah, I think

that's why I enjoy making them.

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Vicki Weinberg: Yeah.

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And I think that's important.

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And I guess as well, it would be

a lot harder for you to commit the

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extra time to work on the business

if you weren't enjoying, enjoying it.

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Um, and it's also just what it was

interesting reflecting, you know, you

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said how much you like research, um,

but then how did you, did you also

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enjoy that trial and error stage?

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Because the thing is you can research

as much as you like, but once you

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actually get to doing something

practical, that's when it gets harder

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maybe because you've got the backgrounds

and the knowledge, but maybe things

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don't always work as they should.

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How did you find that process?

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Maame Sapong: I think

frustrating at times.

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Um, but I think my friends would say

they enjoyed free candles, a lot of free

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candles during that time because, um, when

I made them, they were my guinea pigs.

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So I'd give them away for them to

test the scents and things like that.

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So yeah, it was, it was frustrating.

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I think at some point it just, it

was a bit costly because when you're

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buying the oils and ingredients and

you're literally just burning them away

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and not making any money from them.

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That was, yeah, that was, but

that's part of the business.

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If you want to do it well, you

have to be prepared to invest the

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time and the money to make it work.

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Yeah.

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Vicki Weinberg: Yeah.

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Thank you.

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And, and on those lines as well,

like I know you've mentioned

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that you love the candle making.

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How about the actual

sort of business aspect?

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You said you've got a really good

head for numbers and I think that's

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really important because I know

when I had a small business, that

325

:

was definitely my weakness, is

that I struggled with the numbers.

326

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So I think that must be a huge advantage

to have, to have that other, any

327

:

of the areas though, apart from, we

spoke about, say to social media that

328

:

you have found trickier to pick up.

329

:

Maame Sapong: Yes.

330

:

Yes.

331

:

So, um, when I started my career in

finance, I worked for a skincare brand

332

:

that was, that had just launched.

333

:

And because it was quite a small

business at that stage, growing business,

334

:

it was, I learnt a lot from there.

335

:

So yes, the numbers are a strong

point for me as I work in finance.

336

:

However, um, working in a small

brand, you are exposed to all the

337

:

different aspects of the business.

338

:

So like marketing, MPDs,

operations side of things.

339

:

So I did have quite a good overview,

um, about how to run a business,

340

:

how to launch a brand, even though

I might not necessarily have the

341

:

expertise to do all the copywriting.

342

:

So I'd give that to somebody to do for me

or the web design, somebody to do for me.

343

:

Um, but I think in terms of my experience

in industry, it has equipped me to be

344

:

able to, um, run the business part of it.

345

:

So making sure that, um, I'm calculating

the correct profit margins, um, in terms

346

:

of choosing packaging, transporting

it, all the additional costs that

347

:

come with it, but then marketing and

social media, like I said, weren't my

348

:

strong point, but um, finances are also

another, um, any, any small business

349

:

will tell you when you have funds

they're stretched very, very thinly.

350

:

So there are things I've had to

compromise on and not get, um, not

351

:

investing right now, but grow it slowly.

352

:

Um, but then there are certain aspects

that I wanted to get right, right from

353

:

the beginning, like the photography, um,

like the social media, like Instagram.

354

:

And so I was willing to put the

money in there and then things

355

:

like Google ads and things like

that, I thought I could do later.

356

:

So it's just, yeah, balancing.

357

:

I, I, there's been, I've made a few

mistakes where I've ordered stuff

358

:

because I want to take advantage of the

bulk discount and realize actually I

359

:

shouldn't have because I changed my mind

about packaging and things like that.

360

:

So those are some of the

mistakes that I've made, but

361

:

learning from them have helped.

362

:

Vicki Weinberg: Yeah, I don't think

I spoke to a single person who

363

:

hasn't made mistakes in the early

days because I think we all do.

364

:

But as you said, it's just, if you

learn from it, then I think it's

365

:

actually not an advantage, but maybe

actually, because I think as well as,

366

:

you know, you learn something, but then

it also gives you a bit of resilience

367

:

that, okay, I did something wrong,

but it wasn't the end of the world I

368

:

think that also can be really helpful.

369

:

And it's, yeah, that's really interesting.

370

:

Thank you.

371

:

And it's good to hear as well, how you're

speaking about, you know, that you can't

372

:

necessarily do everything you want now,

and then you have a bit of a plan for

373

:

it, because I think that that can feel

really hard in the early days can't it?

374

:

Where it sounds like you've got a lot

of patience, Maame, where you, you know,

375

:

you know, that, um, things will come.

376

:

And I think that's really good

because it can be very tempting

377

:

to either not do things or to

try and do everything at once.

378

:

Maame Sapong: And I think that's,

that's, that's one of the mistakes that

379

:

small businesses make, um, that because

you have very limited time, because

380

:

often a lot of people start businesses

and they have to manage a full time

381

:

job as well as the small business.

382

:

You have to know what your strengths are.

383

:

One, you have to know that

actually I can't do it all.

384

:

Ask for help when you need the

help and yeah, just be patient.

385

:

I think that's it.

386

:

Just be patient.

387

:

I think often I found myself in the early

days looking at some of the established,

388

:

um, candle brands within the space I'm in.

389

:

Um, I see the number of followers they

have, I see the kind of content they have.

390

:

And I'm like, I actually can't

do all this, but okay, okay.

391

:

I can't, that's just the

fact I can't do them.

392

:

So what can I do to actually grow

my business and know that with

393

:

time and the right investment,

I, yeah, I will get there because

394

:

I'm willing to give it my all.

395

:

Um, so yeah, why not?

396

:

Just have to be patient.

397

:

Vicki Weinberg: I think it's really

good to have that perspective as well

398

:

because it can be really easy to look

at other people, other businesses and

399

:

think, oh, why aren't I where they are?

400

:

Um, yeah, that's a, that's a

really healthy perspective to have.

401

:

Maame Sapong: Yes.

402

:

Yeah.

403

:

And I think talking to other brands,

because, so one thing that Top Drawer

404

:

did for me is I met a lot of lovely

brands, small businesses, and I, I

405

:

am keeping in touch with some of them

and sometimes when you feel low, like,

406

:

oh gosh, is this really worth it?

407

:

You realize there's somebody on the other

end of the phone who's actually going

408

:

through the exact same thing and we just

have to keep going and just persevere.

409

:

This is what we want to do.

410

:

I want to give up my, my day job.

411

:

I would love to give my day job

at some point in the future.

412

:

And focus on this full time,

so I can't just give up on it.

413

:

Yeah.

414

:

Yeah.

415

:

Vicki Weinberg: And actually, we haven't

mentioned, but, um, we actually met at

416

:

Top Drawer in London earlier this year.

417

:

Um, I wouldn't, if you don't mind, and

I hadn't planned to ask this, but if it

418

:

comes up and please say if you don't want

to, but it'd be great to hear a little

419

:

bit about your experience, you know,

at a trade show, because that's a huge

420

:

show I believe, was that your first?

421

:

Maame Sapong: It was my first, yes.

422

:

It was my first, I think, um,

Top Drawer was very positive.

423

:

I met lots of lovely people.

424

:

I think in terms of, from Top Drawer

and the feedback I got from the business

425

:

consultants, I decided to rebrand

my, um, candle refills because I was

426

:

struggling to work out why it really

didn't stand out, uh, on the shelf.

427

:

And I knew that it was because people

were struggling to work out what it was.

428

:

Um, people thought it was

bath salts because they'd

429

:

never seen anything like this.

430

:

So for me, Top Drawer was great

seeing lots of other brands,

431

:

great meeting lovely people.

432

:

I've got some sales from Top Drawer, um,

because I've met businesses there and the

433

:

feedback has helped me improve on some

of my, yeah, for example, my refills.

434

:

I've done a rebrand of them from

the feedback I had from Top Drawer.

435

:

So yeah, it was, it was great for me.

436

:

Vicki Weinberg: That's really interesting.

437

:

And I, I haven't heard anyone say about

the feedback before, but I think what,

438

:

you know, how good is that to get that

feedback from buyers who obviously

439

:

look at so many products and have got

a really good idea of the market to be

440

:

able to give you that feedback and for

you to then be able to address that.

441

:

Maame Sapong: Yes.

442

:

Vicki Weinberg: Because that

could be the sort of thing that

443

:

you could go years thinking, why

aren't people picking these up?

444

:

Why aren't they selling more?

445

:

So that's really good.

446

:

And, um, that actually leads us on nicely.

447

:

Let's talk a little bit about your refills

because people won't know what they are.

448

:

Maame Sapong: Exactly.

449

:

Okay.

450

:

So when we started the brand,

I did say I wanted to build

451

:

a sustainable candle brand.

452

:

And one of the things we started

doing was educating people about

453

:

how to reuse their jars at home.

454

:

But I just felt that wasn't enough.

455

:

And I knew I was always going to do

candle refills, I didn't know how, um,

456

:

but then funnily enough, the jar I chose,

I don't know if you've seen my original

457

:

candle jar, it's narrower on the top

and it gets wider when you go down.

458

:

So when I started considering

candle refills, there's no

459

:

way I could go for a block.

460

:

And the last thing people hate, and

that's one of the feedback I actually

461

:

had from Top Drawer, they buy candle

refills, it comes in a block, and you

462

:

have to actually use the company's

jar or a jar that it fits in.

463

:

So during my research, I thought,

actually, all I see are refills out

464

:

there, but they're all blocks in the UK.

465

:

How could I make a refill that will allow

people to use anything they have at home.

466

:

As long as it's heatproof, it

won't crack, it won't leak.

467

:

As long as it's suitable for

making a candle, how can I just

468

:

get people to use what they have?

469

:

Because, or a mug at home, without

necessarily having to buy a candle.

470

:

And, and then something just went off into

my head and then I started looking, but

471

:

then one thing I didn't want to do was

to use plastic or, um, to make it quite

472

:

a long process because there are lots of

candle making kits out there where you

473

:

melt the wax, you have to put the oils in.

474

:

I wanted something that was easy to use.

475

:

You could pick up.

476

:

And just, yeah, use as a refill, but I

didn't know how I was going to do that.

477

:

So I started researching and I

found a company that actually

478

:

did, uh, pouches, that were

suitable for using in a microwave.

479

:

So I asked for samples and I actually

said, actually there are lots of

480

:

households, because I do have friends

who choose not to have a microwave.

481

:

Does that mean I'm going to eliminate

them as well, uh, for the market?

482

:

And the pouches came and we tested

it and yeah, and these, we decided

483

:

actually this is going to work.

484

:

So we tested it for quite a long time.

485

:

And that's what brought about

the birth of our candle refills.

486

:

It is a candle that's pre scented.

487

:

In a 100 percent compostable

pouch, that was the other thing.

488

:

I didn't want a pouch that would

add to the problem of waste because

489

:

one of the biggest things I wanted

to do was to do my little part to

490

:

sort, try and tackle the waste issue

we have in the candle industry.

491

:

Millions of jars end up in landfill

and the wax at the bottom of our candle

492

:

jars, especially if it's made from

paraffin, do end up in landfill, which

493

:

is quite bad for our, yeah, planet Earth.

494

:

So I wanted something that was

compostable, so it would literally

495

:

disappear back into the soil.

496

:

Um, I wanted something that was easy

to use, something that was unique,

497

:

something that anybody could use,

whether you had a microwave or a pot.

498

:

You could put on the fire.

499

:

So then we created our refills,

which is our pre scented candle in

500

:

a 100 percent compostable pouch.

501

:

You just pop it in a microwave, or if

you haven't got a microwave, in a pot

502

:

of boiling water, you melt the wax, and

then you pour it into an existing jar.

503

:

And everything, the wick and the

wick holder come inside the pouch.

504

:

So you literally pick up the

pouch and you make a candle, as

505

:

long as you have a suitable jar.

506

:

Vicki Weinberg: Thank

you for explaining it.

507

:

And as you know, I picked up one

at Top Drawer and I can attest to

508

:

the fact that it is so easy to use.

509

:

I sort of expected there to be

more steps if I'm honest, but it

510

:

really was heat, pour, wait a while.

511

:

Like it really was.

512

:

And that really surprised me.

513

:

And as you know, I was absolutely

delighted because I just

514

:

thought that's just so, so, so

clever because you're right.

515

:

If you buy a, like a block candle refill,

then it just never fits in the jar.

516

:

Even if you buy it for the jar it's

intended, it just doesn't work.

517

:

Also, there's something really

satisfied about pouring it yourself.

518

:

Maame Sapong: Yeah.

519

:

I think it's the process.

520

:

And that's quite a lot of feedback

we've had and I wasn't expecting that's

521

:

just come off feedback we've had from

customers who said, I actually enjoyed

522

:

making it and because it was so easy

it just made it even more satisfying.

523

:

So yeah.

524

:

Vicki Weinberg: And I really like the fact

as well that you don't necessarily even

525

:

need to have a jar that like you say, you

can just make it in a mug or just anything

526

:

that is suitable that you have already.

527

:

And as you say, that just takes away

the thing of, you know, you want a new

528

:

candle, but you know, maybe you've already

got lots of jars from previous candles.

529

:

Um, I think that's, that's really great.

530

:

So I think this makes it

great for, for everyone.

531

:

I think, especially for candle lovers,

because if you know, you burn a lot of

532

:

candles and you have a lot of empty jars

sitting around, then you have, well, what?

533

:

What do I do with them?

534

:

They're really hard to reuse.

535

:

Maame Sapong: Yes.

536

:

So I did reuse some of my old jars.

537

:

I put spices in them at home.

538

:

I use some on my desk to put matches

in or pens, but then you've run out

539

:

of ideas and what do you do with them?

540

:

And I have been doing a few markets

and every single time somebody

541

:

picks up a pouch, they're like, that

is, actually, that is so clever.

542

:

I could actually reuse my jars.

543

:

And hearing that from a lot of people is,

yeah, it just puts a smile on my face.

544

:

Vicki Weinberg: Oh, it should.

545

:

Yeah.

546

:

Well, you saw I was delighted

when I found out you did that.

547

:

I just, I've never heard of that.

548

:

And I think it's amazing.

549

:

And, um, yeah, just such

a, a unique proposition.

550

:

I've said before as well, I also like

how much thought you've put into every

551

:

single aspect of your business, you know,

about the pouches being compostable.

552

:

I just think that the care you've

taken in thinking about all the

553

:

sustainability issues and the

ethical issues are fantastic.

554

:

Maame Sapong: Yeah.

555

:

Because that, that's very important to me.

556

:

Um, uh, I am originally from Ghana and I

know one of the biggest issues we've had,

557

:

um, I've seen what flooding does to lives.

558

:

Um, and a lot of that is because

of plastic waste and deforestation.

559

:

Um, and when you're close to the

actual impact of what waste is doing.

560

:

Um, yeah, it makes you think.

561

:

I think that's what it is, because

I, I, I've seen firsthand what the

562

:

impact of us not caring about how

plastic affects us or how, um, we

563

:

dispose of stuff or what we dispose of.

564

:

Um, I've seen the first

hand what, what that does.

565

:

So, yeah, it was important for me to

think about all of that in the business.

566

:

So for me, it's not necessarily

just entirely about making profit,

567

:

but just making a difference.

568

:

However small that difference

is just to get people to think

569

:

twice about what they're buying

and what they're disposing off.

570

:

Vicki Weinberg: Yeah,

I think that's great.

571

:

And I, I agree with you as well that

I think even if we all make a small

572

:

difference that does start to add up.

573

:

So I think, I think that's great.

574

:

And I also, yeah, thank you for sharing

that as well, because it's really nice to

575

:

hear the, you know, the personal reasons

for, for making the decisions as well.

576

:

Maame Sapong: Thank you.

577

:

Yeah.

578

:

So I'm actually in Ghana now, so visiting

family and yeah, so it's, it's nice to

579

:

come back and yeah see everyone, but

then also see lots of good, good projects

580

:

that are ongoing to tackle the main

issue of plastic waste in this country.

581

:

So I'll be talking about a few things

on my Instagram and, and online

582

:

about that in the coming weeks.

583

:

Vicki Weinberg: Amazing.

584

:

And I'll make sure we link to your,

all your social media and your website

585

:

in the show notes for the episode.

586

:

And so I've got one final question

before we finish, which is what

587

:

would your number one piece of

advice be for other product creators?

588

:

Maame Sapong: If you're passionate

about your business, I will say,

589

:

um, you don't have to know it all.

590

:

Um, you can actually do what you

love, but also acknowledge that

591

:

there are some skill sets you're,

you won't be a hundred percent at.

592

:

So please, if you can outsource those,

because then you can free up your

593

:

time to think about the, the things

you're actually very, very good at,

594

:

and you won't always get it right.

595

:

You will make mistakes, but the

lessons we learn from those mistakes

596

:

is what helps you build a better brand.

597

:

Um, I've learned quite a few lessons

in the one year I've been trading.

598

:

Some very expensive mistakes

I've made, but you learn from

599

:

them and you move on from it.

600

:

So, and then you can't always

be like the big brands.

601

:

So how can you be unique and

how can you still stand out?

602

:

It's, it's very, very important.

603

:

I think that's the one question

I've always asked myself from the

604

:

beginning, because I knew I was

going into a very crowded market.

605

:

But the only thing that kept, kept me

going, and that's what steered a lot of

606

:

my decisions is how do I stand out from

the crowd that people would notice me.

607

:

Um, and that's very important.

608

:

Vicki Weinberg: That is, and I think

it's always good to have something

609

:

to keep coming back to as well.

610

:

To sort of keep you on track as it were,

especially when you get to, as we were

611

:

saying earlier, you can get to the stage

where you want to do all of the things

612

:

and, but it's just nice to know that,

okay, no, that isn't for me because

613

:

this is what I'm about, for example.

614

:

Maame Sapong: Exactly.

615

:

Yeah, exactly.

616

:

I totally agree.

617

:

So yeah.

618

:

Vicki Weinberg: Thank you so much for that

and for everything that you've shared.

619

:

Maame Sapong: Thank you, Vicki.

620

:

Thank you so much for your time and

thank you for having me on your podcast.

621

:

Vicki Weinberg: You're so welcome.

622

:

Thank you.

623

:

Thank you so much for listening

right to the end of this episode.

624

:

Do remember that you can get the

full back catalogue and lots of free

625

:

resources on my website, vickiweinberg.

626

:

com.

627

:

Please do remember to rate and review

this episode if you've enjoyed it

628

:

and also share it with a friend

who you think might find it useful.

629

:

Thank you again and see you next week.

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