Not many business ventures can claim to have started with a five day power cut, but that’s exactly what led the mother-daughter duo behind Arya Candles to launch their brand six years ago. We caught up with Lina and Jenny to hear all about their journey, the wonderful charity they support through Arya Candles, and their advice for running a business with a family member.
Hi Lina and Jenny! Can you tell me a bit about Arya Candles, and how you got started?
It was actually an unexpected power cut that first led us down our candle journey! We returned from a holiday to find that we had no power — and it remained off for a further five days! It was quite refreshing not to have technology, and to have to make do as best we could.
But after a while we were getting bored and also running out of candles. So, we decided to melt down some old candles to try and make new ones. They didn’t burn at all well, but it got us thinking about what actually goes into candles. What is wax made from? How are scents made? Are they healthy to breathe in? And so Arya was born. We wanted to make a product with 100% natural ingredients, as many candles use cheap paraffin wax and synthetic fragrances.
We were already passionate about natural products around the home so it made sense. Within three months we had our first range of products ready for Christmas markets. Six years later and we’re going strong with not just natural candles, but reed diffusers too. All our products are made with therapeutic essential oils.
Tell me about the charity you support through Arya Candles.
We passionately believe that businesses have the ability to change lives. When we started Arya, even in the earliest days, we knew we wanted every candle to have a positive impact. We are both passionate about supporting women and so we decided to do this via Women for Women International. This is an incredible organisation that supports women from former war-torn countries through a year-long programme. The women have experienced the devastating consequences of war, and have often experienced domestic violence too. The programme equips women to learn a skill, earn money, regain confidence, and actively participate in their communities. They also learn practical knowledge about health, gender equality and human rights. The whole programme creates sustainable change for her and her family.
We passionately believe that businesses have the ability to change lives. When we started Arya, even in the earliest days, we knew we wanted every candle to have a positive impact.
What was the hardest part of getting your brand off the ground?
I think that, because Arya started as a small Christmas project, we weren’t yet familiar with the candle market, our competition, how to market and utilise social media. But since that September in 2014, we have come a very long way and learned so much.
What does a typical day look like for you both?
Lina’s house, in the lush Suffolk countryside, is our HQ. Pre-Covid I would go to hers to work. The great thing about being self-employed is being able to create a schedule that works for you! We love a mid-morning meeting with coffee and cake! I spend a lot of time doing social media and marketing, I’m also responsible for making the candles. Lina is the reed diffuser queen! She also does a lot of research into essential oils, new scents, and packaging/shipping orders. Things changed a lot last March after the first lockdown — we still had orders coming through, because people were spending more time at home, so I collected the candle-making supplies from Lina and made them in my much smaller kitchen! We missed each other, but we made it work.
I think it’s so cool that you work together as mother and daughter. Is there any advice you’d give to anyone thinking of setting up a business with a family member?
Such a hard question because I think it really depends on your relationship with that family member. As mother and daughter we are very close and we have so much fun, especially in the early days when I still lived with Lina. Our closeness meant it was easy to discuss things and be open about our feelings. I think the main challenge we faced was different tastes in style and scent preferences, but we respected each other’s opinions and found solutions that worked for us and the business. I think it is just important to be open and not take things too personally.
What’s next for Arya Candles?
We are excited to be working on all natural room sprays, as well as expanding our range of scents!