Why and when did you decide to start Hazel & Blue?
I have always been creative and used creativity to relax and unwind in between working and raising my children. I taught myself to sew on a machine, crochet and knit, before learning how to make candles with my 9-year-old daughter in 2016. From the moment I first poured a candle, I loved it! The ability to use different scents in the candles, to watching the wax set in the vessel, to designing a label. I had thought about running my own business previously but just didn’t know what it would be, until I made a candle, I knew that this was it!
What had you done previously?
I was a registered nurse for 20 years, I worked for the NHS as a staff nurse in hospitals and in the private sector as a triage and community nurse. My most recent role was for a palliative care charity in a management role. I loved being a nurse and helping patients and families, but my love for Hazel & Blue was stronger and it got to the point where I couldn’t juggle both any longer. I left my job in 2019 and have never looked back! It was the best thing I have done in my career!
I always put our customers at the heart of what I do, shaping our future and the direction we are going are so important to me. I think this has a lot to do with my nursing background, putting patients and families first, and I have carried that into my business.
How would you describe the brand’s ethos?
We want to spread happiness and wellbeing through creative, simple, scent-based products that are all inspired by nature. Whether that is through one of our candle making kits, workshops or one of our scented products. Our products are all eco-friendly and sustainable and we love that we can provide that for our customers! We recently had a brainstorm and came up with what we are good at: making soy candles and teaching people how to make soy candles, so, putting those two things together really is the heart of Hazel & Blue.
What does a typical day look like for you?
After my children have gone to school, I walk our Cockapoo dog while either listening to a podcast or taking the opportunity to think through any thoughts or ideas I have whirling around in my head. I then go to the studio, and I will answer any urgent emails, plan my day, which may include a meeting, design work, talking to suppliers, training new staff, fulfilling orders and of course, candle making! I normally leave the studio about 4pm after our Royal Mail collection and start my other role as a mum! In the busier periods I tend to stay longer in the studio until about 6pm.
How does your location inspire you?
Our studio is on a farm business park, and we are surrounded by fields and sheep. The studio is a converted barn which used to be a cow shed. It has the most beautiful wooden beams in the ceiling and beautiful large windows, which I love! We have the best small community businesses around us too which is very inspiring.
Can you tell us about the processes used to create your work?
We design, manufacture and distribute all our scented products from our Wiltshire studio, which I love: everything from the initial idea to testing and designing them and then making and distributing them.
I’m lucky enough to work with some other amazing small business owners who help me run the things remotely, from our graphic designer, accountant, photographer, our local printers, UK suppliers and our seasonal workers. I was the sole candle maker for Hazel & Blue, but I am now training someone new to make them alongside me, which feels so good to share!
How do you make your candles?
I prep the candles by warming the vessels, pop the wicks into the candle containers, mix the candle oils, blend them with our soy wax, measuring and stirring, before pouring them into the containers. I steady the wick with a wick stabiliser and then I will leave them to set for at least 72 hours.
You’re a craft enthusiast, how important do you feel craft is at this time?
Candle making is such a beautiful craft and it is very relaxing and meditative. Prepping, stirring, blending, pouring and wicking are all mindful tasks. I go into a meditative mind frame and can zone out for hours! Using different seasonal candle oils over the year is a real bonus, as I love all the scents!
Crafting has become super popular over the last few years and especially during the pandemic, it is such a lovely way to have some me-time as well as spending time with others.
Candle making is a perfect craft activity to do with others. It is very similar to baking, and you get to enjoy the results together. We have lots of customers who contact us to say thank you as they have spent the afternoon making candles with their mum/sister/daughter and loved it!
Crafting helps you to feel good about yourself, by creating someone new, with no expectations and it gives you a sense of achievement. The best thing about making candles is you get to enjoy them afterwards for weeks and weeks.
Which is your most popular product?
Our candle making kits are our best sellers. We were one of the first eco-friendly candle making kits available throughout the UK and I think that they resonated with lots of people. I wanted to create a kit using the eco ingredients that we use in our own candles, so they are the best quality ingredients. We are complimented on our packaging and the video tutorial our customers say is helpful. I am very proud of the kits and love that thousands of people have made our soy candles over the last few years! I am excited that we will be growing our candle making kit collection later this year!
Hard question: do you have a favourite scent?
That is so tough! But I love the scent of sea salt and wood, it reminds me of my childhood in New Zealand, growing up next to the beach and the scent from the sand, waves and holidays. It is such a beautiful relaxing scent and is a mixture of woody and citrus oils (bergamot, mandarin and grapefruit). I sometimes make an extra candle or wax melt and take it home to burn!
How do you approach PR and marketing?
Marketing is important and something which I have always done organically. But as we are growing it is becoming more front of my mind and I now have some external help with it all! I definitely need an in-house digital marketer!
I have been lucky enough to have some amazing PR for Hazel & Blue over the last few years, we have been in some amazing magazines, on TV shows & podcasts and featured in guest blog posts. Collaborating has also been a brilliant way to work with other makers to create unique products together and reaching new audiences.
What’s been your highlight so far?
There have been so many, but the first day after I left my job was the best feeling ever and I still have it today. I cannot tell you what it is like to wake up and know that I am my own boss and can manage my day however I like! The freedom really suits me.
Our candle making kits were featured on ITV’s This Morning this year and seeing Phil and Holly talk about our candle making kits was amazing! Also I recently was a finalist in the Not On The High Street NOTHS Maker Awards for Best New Maker and Community & Collaboration – I couldn’t keep the smile off my face (very pinch myself moments!).
Finally, any words of wisdom for readers looking to start a creative business?
Find something that makes your heart glow and fills your soul. For me it was candle making, but it could be baking or building apps or helping people to sing!
I started Hazel & Blue as a side hustle and for me this worked so well, as when I was growing the business there wasn’t the financial pressure to sell, and I was able to grow it organically and really enjoyed that way of growing.
Describe your work in three words: Relaxing, calming and beautiful.
What are your creating rituals? Quiet, calming music and being surrounded by nature-inspired things.
Tea or coffee? So tough as I love both! I have two cups a day, one of each! But coffee, I suppose!
Mountains or sea? Sea
Night owl or early bird? I love daytime hours and am at my best, but if I had to choose it would an early bird.
I wish someone had told me… That life is too short to not live your dreams. I was 40 when I started H&B!
See more from Becky via the Hazel & Blue website and on Instagram.