Member of The Month with Jo McFarlane Luxury  Candles

1.How did you decide on the name for your business?

I had spent months trying to think of how to name my business as I wanted to dedicate it to my wee Mammy as she is my world. However, It was so hard to make the name Linda’ work with what my business aspirations were haha, i.e love of nature, natural products, protecting our planet, climate change, recycling, vegan friendly, cruelty free, offsetting my carbon footprint, forest themed…. all those buzz words that were on my vision board.

I really wanted Customers to understand my business in just seeing the name of my business…. So I decided to call it Earth (as the word encapsulates everything I stand for and want to protect), Mother (instead of Linda lol, after my wee Mammy and placed it in the centre of the name as she is the centre of my world) and Soul as I believe my products make the soul happy! Then just like that, Earth, Mother and Soul was born!

2. Has your business changed since you first imagined?

My business idea started when my wee Granny Meighan left me a book on Herbal Medicine, I couldn’t put the book down and became fascinated by the power of nature and its medicinal benefits. I then used the book to cure my eczema and to this day, I continue to use herbal medicine for any ailments. My fascination in what nature could provide for us medicinally, then led me into undertaking the Qualification in Herbal Medicine. The qualification taught me how to make my own natural products, so I had originally planned to launch my business with natural products as well as luxury candles and Earth melts (I call my wax melts Earth melts!), however I decided to establish my luxury brand with candles and melts initially and I hopefully as the business grows it would progress into additional natural products i.e soap, cosmetics, teas etc, however this may change completely and I may stick with candles and Earthmelts, you can never really predict the path in which your business will grow.

3. What is the biggest challenge you have faced? How did you overcome it?

The biggest challenge I would say so far has been resources, as I wanted to make sure they were all ethically sourced and recyclable etc. It was important to me, to be a plastic free business, however this brought its own challenges with packaging and resources and then researching the supply companies, as it was important to me that they matched my ethos. This took so much time and at times I doubted that my dream would ever come to fruition.

I also found it very difficult to balance an ‘Earthy/natural/forest themed business’ with a Luxury branding’. Usually Luxury brandings are very clear, crisp, white and minimal, however my branding was very earthy, green, rustic and nature like. It was a challenge with even my packaging, I would ask myself, How can I make my recyclable, biodegradable packaging look luxury?.

This also became a challenge with my Website team, that I had hired to build my website. We spent a lot of time backwards and forwards on this aspect, as I had a clear vision on what I wanted it to look like, which delayed the launch date somewhat, as I didn’t want to launch until I felt it was perfect!

I follow a Female Entrepreneur called Maxine Laceby’ who states that the key to building a dream business, is to stay true to what you believe in and don’t be tempted to sacrifice your dream to make things easy’ my dream was to build a nature inspired business and this statement has went round in my head many, many times, when I was tempted to go against the forest/nature theme and go clean and crisp and modern.

4. Tell us what a normal day looks like for you?

I have such a busy life, that I need to prepare everything the night before! All clothing is ironed and laid out, school lunches are made etc. I like to set my alarm early in the morning, so that I can have my herbal tea in peace, check my diary for the day, make my to do list for the day etc, before the family wake up and I can meditate on my day ahead. My mornings need to go like a military operation’ I drop my Daughter off at school and head into my Dental Laboratory to carry out my tasks in the morning like, work on the accounts, wages, calls, emails etc and to support my husband in setting up our Staff for the day ahead. I then I move into my happy place! My wee Earth, Mother and Soul Studio, 3 doors down normally around 12 oclock. I just love walking through the door and smelling all the amazing scents! I take a deep breath, close the door and my mood immediately changes to calm and relaxed, I check my emails, then start my days events in my studio.

5. Which of your products do you enjoy creating the most?

I love to make both Earthmelts and Candles as my favourite part is adding the fragrance to the plant based wax and stirring it, I think this is very therapeutic! I also love to box up my candles as I feel like I’m boxing them up with love, the same feeling you get wrapping up a Christmas present for a loved one. I pack them up with shredded green paper to represent the grass, then add organic rose buds/petals to make it pretty, I then I add wild flower seeds for the Customer to sow in their garden space or plant pots to encourage our wee nature heros… The Bees to thrive and pollinate and to make their outdoor space beautiful too… a lasting gift from Earth, Mother and Soul.

6. Who would you most like to meet in business?

It would be a dream if I met my Eco-Queen Deborah Meaden from Dragons Den! I have always been a huge fan of this show and her photo is on my Vision Board. I was so excited when she started following my wee Earth, Mother and Soul, business on Instagram, that I bought a bottle of Champagne to celebrate!

This show is designed to put fire into the bellies’ of entrepreneurs and it really gives you the tools you need to evaluate your business, although it has given me lots of hard work over the years when at the foundation stages of building my business, ive went back to the drawing board on many an occasion after watching this show!

7. What advice do you have for a younger self?

I would probably tell myself to stop worrying about what other people think. I think this comes with age and not worrying about what people think now, I can honestly say, I am more my authentic self than ive ever been before, and its made me very content and happy. I wouldn’t change a thing out-with this, as I believe that my journey to this point in life has brought learning and experiences both negative and positive, however this is how we grow and I believe I am the person I am today by living through those experiences.

8. Has building a candle business been easier or harder than you thought?

I think it has been harder than I thought, however it has been more enjoyable to build. Another quote I love is ‘The definition of an entrepreneur, is someone who jumps off a cliff and builds a plane before they reach the bottom’. This is a prefect explanation of an entrepreneur, I have invested most of our savings into building Earth, Mother and Soul and our wee studio and it is a gamble, however one we are willing to take.

I don’t want to have any regrets in this life, I lost my Best Friend tragically who had big dreams on opening her own business, however she didn’t get the chance to fulfil it, and it breaks my heart, so I want to build my dream in honour of her.

9. How many hours a day do you spend on your business?

I spend around 6/7 hours a day on the business, however if I was to count the social media time on the business this would be much more, as its too hard to cut off when you can access this on your phone. I need to set wellbeing alarms on my phone and limit my time on this.

During lockdown when I worked from home, it was hard not to check emails at 10pm at night etc. You get into a habit of ticking off things on your to do list’ for the next day, to give yourself an easier day, however in reality, you just find new tasks to fill the spaces anyway!

Part of my reasoning in opening a studio, was to cut off when I finished work and have time at home with my family, I believe your house should be your haven, so setting wellbeing alarms on my phone will support this greatly I feel.

10. What inspired you to start a business?

Apart from my love of the programme Dragons Den, which has definitely inspired me to start my own business! My Husband and I are lucky enough to own a busy Dental Laboratory, this has always been my Husbands dream and I’m delighted I can help him achieve his dream. However my dream was to own my own wee business based around my love of nature.

During lockdown when our Dental Lab closed, we realised very quickly that all our eggs were in one basket and when you are in times of uncertainty, it makes you really think about your life, we decided together that something had to change.

I had completed my Herbal Medicine qualification during this time and I had gained other qualifications in crystal healing and Reiki ect too, so I decided it was now or never as I was not getting any younger and we decided to start planning our wee business.

I came across Jo’s candle course and took it as a clear sign to merge my love of nature with my love of candles and wax melts and Earth, Mother and Soul was born.

11. What one piece of advice would you give to someone wanting to start their own candle business?

I would say before you buy a single thing, be very clear on how your business model looks. I have spent so much money on trying things out and going back to the drawing board, if only I had a clear vison at the start on how Earth, Mother and Soul would take shape I would have saved a small fortune!

12. What is your current favourite scent?

My favourite scent at the moment is from our Signature Candle range, my wee Mammy aptly named it ‘In the Summer Time’ (I can hear Mungo Jerry in my head every time I say the name of this candle!) the scent is of fresh cut grass! I think the smell of fresh cut grass is the essence of Summer time and this instantly takes me back to playing outdoors as a child in the Summer Holidays… Its amazing how a scent can invoke memories and impact your mood immediately!

13. Do you enjoy all aspects of running your own business?

No, not at all! I don’t like the cold calling or the book keeping tasks!, however as these are mandatory for running a business I have no choice in the matter haha, however I try to brighten these tasks up with herbal Teas or burning one of my candles as I work away or playing some good music.

14. How do you take time out for yourself?

I try to plan a massage every month and I book my hair and nails monthly too! I also take time out at the weekends with my children, we plan activities on Saturday’s and Sunday’s and try our best to all eat dinner at the same time together! Which is a complete challenge in my house! But these things make me happy, so I try to encourage them haha.

I also try my best not to work too much on these days, however with the nature of the business we are in this can prove difficult with markets and stalls etc happening at the weekends, however my girls are excited to join me on these. My Husband and I also make time for each other every night and plan date nights!

15. 5 words to describe your business?

Nature inspired, luxury, Eco-Friendly, Cruelty Free, Vegan Friendly.

16. How long did it take from starting your Build a candle business course and selling your first candle?

I was able to sell candles immediately after the course, taking the course was like a springboard into Earth, Mother and Soul becoming ready to take in sales.

17. Did you have any candle experience before starting?

I had no candle experience whatsoever before starting the course, I had simply bought a DIY kit online from Amazon and made some practice candles from the kit, which had no hot throw whatsoever! haha.

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