When I was little I grew up on a sheep station near Perth, on hundreds of acres, near Monkey Mia. It was a great place to grow up – we did School of the Air so we’d only work until lunch-time and then get to go out on the farm with my Dad. I don’t know how my mum did it though – shopping was delivered every fortnight and the power was turned off at 8pm at night because it was a generator. I was one of three, and she used to teach my brother and I whilst she had a new born. Although she never worked as such, she did work from home but in a different way to me.
I moved to Perth when I was nine. I grew up in Two Rocks. When I was seven I wanted to be a police officer, but when I left school I got a traineeship doing mechanical drafting, working for an engineer so I got my degree that way. I was there for a few years before joining AHG and getting into finance and that’s how I met my husband Cardin. I started working as an Account Manager for a fleet company and he was one of my clients. I moved to Geraldton with him and joined his company as the Fleet Manager.
We’ve always had a family business, so when children came along they set me up at home so I could still be involved doing paperwork and quotes. I’m not one to sit down and watch daytime TV so it was perfect for me. Isabella is nine years old, Sofia is seven and Sam is four. When Isabella was born a creative side evolved in me and I started doing paintings, and then Sofia came along I started making gift cards. Maybe it was just that I had time to explore my creativity.
After we had Isabella we moved back to Perth, in 2007, and spent three years here before moving back to Geraldton for three and a half years. We came back to Perth in 2014. I started Cinque Candles at the end of 2010 while I was in Geraldton with a friend who had two children, and I had three – hence where the five (cinque) came from. It now represents my husband and I and the kids. It really evolved because I was buying a lot of candles from a company in Perth as there wasn’t really anything in Geraldton that suited my tastes. So a friend suggested that we start making our own candles to fill the gap in the market. We didn’t do a course or anything, we just had a bit of a play making them and it all worked out. When we first started it was more of a vintage line using crystal glasses and bowls, sourcing them from vintage stores, but after a while it became hard to find pieces.
When we first started we had a Facebook page and each month we would create an album with photos of the candles, and we would release the items for sale on a Friday at 7pm and those that commented ‘sold’ first would get their choice of candle. After a few months the girl I was working with was too busy to continue and she only wanted it as a hobby, so I took it over because I wanted to make it into a business. I wanted to sell to retailers. So Cinque Candles started when I had the two girls and I was pregnant with Sam. It wasn’t difficult to manage running the business - when you find something you love you find the time. I would work on it when the kids were at school or at night when they had gone to bed.
The new look developed in line with designs I would like to have in my own home. The business went crazy in the Christmas of 2014, when we had moved back to Perth – largely due to social media in Perth and meeting so many more people. Instagram and Facebook have worked really well for me, and I have a website so I sell online. While you make a lot more profit selling directly to the customer, it is important for me to have my candles in the right retail stores as well. People buy a candle from one of my stockists and give it to a friend, and then they come and find me on line. So having a retail presence is a great selling and branding tool. We have about 20 stockists mainly in Perth – a lot of them are florists who deliver candles as well as flowers. I have only ever done one market – I find I feel really anxious when I have to talk to people and sell my product. And I also believe the style of my candles is more suited to a retail store than a market environment. Ideally when Sam goes to school I’d love to have my own retail space, with a workshop where people can learn how to make candles themselves.
We have a classic range with 12 different fragrances – the best selling ones are Brown Sugar & Fig, Champagne & Berries and Coconut & Lime. The look that we have now, with the black and white quotes, evolved last year. I collaborated with a girl in Perth and we developed a range of quotes for a limited season. I’m already working with another lady on the east coast with a new range of quotes with a different look. While I may change the font, we will maintain the black and white quotes because that is my signature. The glassware is black, white or clear, and the copper is a new addition. Each season we have a limited edition fragrance, and I collaborate with a different artist who creates beautiful artwork. While it is essentially me running the business, it is also a family business. Last year I had a huge order for 1000 candles for a designer for Fashion Week here in Perth – and they were large candles using over 300kg of wax. There was all the labelling to do, and the packing, and the kids and Cardin helped me with all of the production which took about six weeks.
For other mums wanting to start their own business, I would say just go for it! Be prepared to work hard, all day every day for the first few years. It is a big of a juggle, and I feel like I never have enough time – but if you’re doing something that you love you just find the time to do it and fit it all in. I have an assistant who works a few hours a few days a week, and Cardin is a great help with the kids, doing the school run if I’m busy and taking care of lunches and dinner if I am under pressure. Cinque Candles is a family business, and it is definitely our future.
Cinque Candle Co is a Perth based boutique brand of soy candles dedicated to delivering high quality luxury candles. Inspired by a love of homewares, styling, typography art work and an obsession to soy candles, Cinque Candle Co. specialises in creating custom personalised labelled candles for any event and loves collaborating with Australian designers to produce unique designs for your home.
Becoming a mother can open up a whole new side to yourself that you haven’t had a chance to explore. Learning who you really are and what you really love to do is a vital step on the road to having your own business. Business Mamas can help you find out who you are and what you want, so you can create the right business path and fulfil your business dreams.
Copy: Melanie Quirk Photography: SomedaySomehowStudios
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