Candle maker’s prospects burning bright
A venture that started as a kitchen table hobby has expanded to now employ eight staff in a shop and a factory unit, with celebrity endorsements from the likes of Paris Hilton and reality TV stars The Real Housewives of Cheshire.
Owen Drew Luxury Candles now supplies to more than 30 independent retailers nationwide and ships its wares across the globe, and plans to expand its workforce even more as orders continue to build.
Back in the summer of 2016, founder Drew Cockton, 32, was a frustrated financial services manager looking to channel his creative energies.
He started making scented candles in vintage teacups in the kitchen of his Wirral home, with ingredients sourced on the internet, with the intention of giving them as gifts to friends and family.
Their popularity grew and within months he was making hundreds, selling them at craft fairs and over social media: “People told me they were the best candles they had ever used,” he said.
“They burnt beautifully and didn’t give off black smoke like mass-produced candles. It was because I was using completely natural ingredients – vegan soy wax and wood wicks.”
Christmas was extremely busy, and in January 2017 he decided to leave his job with a Chester-based financial services company and start a full-time business.
“My family wasn’t pleased at all and saw it as a huge risk, however, I’m a firm believer that life is short and it’s best to take chances and only regret what you don’t do.”
He recruited his next door neighbour to help with production while he concentrated on business development.
Drew’s partner, Mike Skeggs, then joined the firm and they signed a lease on a 750 sq ft workshop in Birkenhead.
In March this year they opened a shop unit and now employ eight staff, including three apprentices, with plans to take on two more staff members.
The next 12 months will see the business expand even further.
Drew revealed the company is in talks to design a bespoke wedding candle for a Hollywood ‘A Lister’s’ wedding and that the 5-star Chester Grosvenor Hotel wants to work in conjunction with the firm to create a signature fragrance for the historic establishment.
He said he hopes his story can inspire other people to follow their dreams, having experienced failure in a previous venture when, aged 23 and fresh from university, he opened an hotel in Manchester’s Gay Village at the height of the credit crunch in 2009.
Within a year it had closed and threatened to bankrupt Drew.
He said: “I had always been ashamed of my past failure. But now I am extremely grateful for the experience because it taught me everything I needed to know about running a business – what to do and, more importantly, what not to do.
“These are skills I wouldn’t have ever learned in academic setting – they had to be learnt ‘on the job’.”
He added: “I hope my story inspires people to follow their dreams, and that it’s OK to fail in business.”