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Entrepreneurial Interview - Jo MacFarlane Candles

Posted by Laura Hart on

Interview No.2

Jo is the owner and managing director of Jo Macfarlane Candles. Based in Fife, she makes luxury vegan candles, while also running candle-making workshops.


1. How did you get your idea or concept for the business?

I decided to recycle empty candle vessels from the kitchen table.

2. When did you start your business?

The business was started when my son was just one, I had been flying long haul until I became pregnant and knew that I couldn’t be on the other side of the world with my son being at home.

3. How many employees do you have?

I still work in the business myself, I am looking to build a team, but it is vital that I know and learn each aspect of the company before taking on anyone. It is easy to have help doing tasks I already know, I need to make sure they do what I do but 100 times better.

4. What service(s) or product(s) do you offer/manufacture?

I create vegan soy candles for my own website, I work with Luxury Hotels such as Balbirnie, Dalmahoy, Fairmont, Novotel London Canary Wharf and Pullman St Pancras to create Private Label candles for Corporate gifting, I run Candle Making Workshops and also sell wholesale.

5. How do you advertise your business?

I use paid Facebook target marketing campaigns, and social media has worked wonders for my business. I wouldn't have been at Downing Street twice, House of Lords or Invited down to London to celebrate International Women’s Day if I hadn’t been so social.

6. To what do you attribute to your success?

Work when your competitors are sleeping! Drive and energy.

7. What do you look for in an employee?

I will tell you when I find one, I would look for focussed energy, initiative, fantastic customer service, the desire to go above and beyond and an excellent communicator.

8. What made you choose your current location?

I’m from the next village originally, Fife is a beautiful part of the country. The Scottish king James VI called the ancient Pictish Kingdom of Fife " a beggar's mantle fringed with gold" the gold is all the tiny villages along its coastline. I love being by the sea, It’s constant change brings inspiration.

9. What is unique about your business?

I pride myself as being a ‘person behind the brand' business, it definitely makes a difference when people get a handwritten note from me, and they know they can call.

10. What made you choose this type of business?

I think it chose me! I love being eco and recycling, and it came about when I decided to fill some empty candle jars. I purchased wax, wicks and fragrance from a high street shop and when I researched what I had bought, it became clear that It was substandard then I searched for companies that could supply me with quality vegan products.

11. If you had one piece of advice to someone just starting out, what would it be? When you hit a plateau in the business, change tack and keep going. Connect with as many people as possible, The people that I have met more than anything else have had the most significant impact.

I love the quote ‘The People you meet and the books you read’ the two most important things. Stay focused, it is very easy to get pulled ‘off brand' stay true to your beliefs and trust your gut. Don't race to the bottom to compete on price.

12. What are the advantages of running your own business?

Well as one person asked ‘oh so you get to choose your own hours’ It is something I am passionate about, I think you wouldn't put in the hours for someone else that you do for yourself.

13. What are the downsides to running your own business?

It’s up to you to sort everything out, have the ability to undertake tasks even when you don’t want to. In the words of Brian Tracy – ‘Eat That Frog’ (do the thing you least like first) be prepared to learn new skills every day. This week I spent 3 hours sorting a glitch on my laptop that prevented images being uploaded, YouTube is very handy!

I am highly driven and motivated so at no point have I thought I couldn’t go on. I love my business and the people that I meet as a result of that. It’s all about the people.

14. What is the main change you have seen/experienced since you started your

It’s harder to cut through the noise of social media.


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