A young entrepreneur is hoping to light up a bright new future for himself after sniffing out an opportunity to apply his creative flair to the age-old tradition of candle making by capturing the spirit of Sheffield in wax form.
Hillsborough-born James McKennan (27) launched The Sheffield Candle Company in 2015 after drawing on inspiration from an unlikely source; his girlfriend’s mother, whose home was lit by candlelight each evening. Stuck in a rut career wise and intrigued by the science behind candle making, James made an impulse online purchase of a child’s candle making kit and began experimenting.
After spending time fine-tuning his skills and having developed a selection of simple scented candles, James decided to try his hand at selling some of his creations at Sharrow Vale market where, to his surprise, his scented wax wonders proved to be an instant hit.
Having successfully developed a loyal customer base and inspired by the positive feedback he received, James decided to take the plunge, leaving his job and launching The Sheffield Candle Company.
Investing £4,000 of his own money which he used to purchase candle-making materials and wax, James began pioneering his first hand made candle range. Inspired by the familiar scents and sights of the steel city, James’ candles bring together some of the unique scents found in Endcliffe Park and the Botanical Gardens, whilst providing his own Yorkshire-inspired candles including his aptly named scent Fresh On’t Line. Each candle is made using 100% soy wax, natural cotton wicks and carefully selected fragrances.
As a new business owner James began selling his products to a number of independently owned businesses across the city, and it was whilst he was searching for potential stockists of his range that he found out about the Sheffield City Region’s Launchpad programme – a fully funded service available to new business owners which is designed to give them the best possible start on their business journey.
Working alongside a dedicated business advisor, James spent his spare time learning about every essential business aspect, from legal issues and accounting to marketing, business structure and general advice which has helped him to expand The Sheffield Candle Company beyond his wildest dreams.
Currently, the business produces up to 3,000 candles a week which are sold online and in stores across South Yorkshire, Leeds, York, Hull and Halifax. His father was able to re-claim his kitchen after James located the company to larger premises in the city and he now employs two additional members of staff.
James said: “When I first started this journey I knew very little about candle making, or indeed running a business. It’s incredible to think that what started with a child’s candle making kit has grown and evolved so much in such a relatively short space of time.
“The support I received from the Launchpad programme has given me the confidence to grow and develop my ideas further. Working with my business advisor Christina Lima Trindade has been really useful, helping me to navigate the challenges that my business has faced – from finding new customers to employing staff for the first time.
“Seeing my business grow from strength to strength has enabled me to introduce new products to the brand, including new scents within the Sheffield range and I have future plans to introduce aromatherapy products and also a new company named The Yorkshire Candle Company LTD.”
Christina Lima Trindade, Business Advisor, Launchpad said: “The Launchpad programme was launched to provide fully funded advice to entrepreneurs and start-up business owners operating throughout the Sheffield City Region, enabling them to access support when they need it the most, at the beginning of their business journey. Many clients who receive support from the programme are first-time business owners and it’s a joy to see them progress so quickly and naturally through the support we provide.
“From my first meeting with James, it was evident he was passionate about creating a range of candles everyone can enjoy and introduce into their home to create a warming, homely environment which can bring back a lifetime of memories. I continue to work with James as he expands his business and launches his newest venture and I wish him every success for the future.”
Launchpad is a unique scheme which forms part of the Sheffield City Region Growth Hub. Funded by the European Regional Development Fund and delivered by local authorities within the Sheffield City Region and the Princes Trust, the programme provides fully funded help and support to budding entrepreneurs in the Sheffield City Region who are thinking of starting their own business, or have started trading within the last two years.
For more information on the Launchpad programme and how it operates throughout the Sheffield City Region, contact the SCR Growth Hub Gateway on 03330 00 00 39 or visit www.scrlaunchpad.co.uk