Where to get started
Starting a business from a place of passion can be quite daunting.
Where do you begin? How do you promote your business and build an audience? What should you focus on, especially when you want to keep your job in the early days and have limited time?
As part of our Learn from the Maker Series, we interviewed Marielle from Florin and Grace, who has faced exactly these challenges. Marielle and her partner in life and business, Constantin, managed to grow their quirky nostalgia-driven candle business within just one year, whilst both working jobs.
Marielle’s story demonstrates that you don’t have to do all the things to grow your audience. They key lies in finding one or two activities, sticking with them and doing them well.
Read on and get inspired, we hope you enjoy!
When and how did you get started?
Funny enough, we didn’t start as a candle business. We actually started as a custom woodwork and event signage business.
Back in 2019, we stumbled across a candle kit through one of our suppliers, and it was actually Con who wanted to try candle-making just for fun. We love candles ourselves and that’s why we made them!
We started making candles for friends and family and it all snowballed from there until we did our first market in November that year.
Over the Christmas break, we decided to revamp our brand and products. And that was when the glass jars were born. It seems like a lifetime ago, but to think that it was this time last year, it’s insane!
So just after that market, I saw a Facebook ad about Life Instyle. I thought it was another market, like Finders Keepers, so I registered my interest. Only once I spoke to them, I realised that it was an industry trade show.
I didn’t know how trade shows worked, but I thought, “you know what, let’s just do that and see what happens.” So we signed up. I wouldn’t say it was an accident, because you also have to put in work. You’ve got to put in the hard yards!
How did you start building an audience?
A platform I’ve always used is definitely Instagram but it’s a challenge to keep up with the algorithm.
I’m very particular on the aesthetics and what our entire feed looks like, so it definitely requires planning. I use the app Planoly so I can see what the next 10 posts will look like. I preplan what I’m going to write, research my hashtags and find out when the best times and days to post are.
The number one thing I find is that consistency is key. Even if you feel like no one is seeing your posts, keep showing up. Instagram sees whether or not you’re worthy of being shown to x amount of people.
The other thing is engagement. For example, I planned for Mondays to be poll days. The more interaction I can get (even if it’s just a click of a button), the better. Plus, it gets people involved and excited. Last week when I posted, asking which scent people would like to see in the future, 50 people interacted. That way, I get Instagram to like us and I get insight into what people want.
Otherwise, people tend to hear about us because they’ve seen our candles from one of our stockists. It’s the same with new wholesale interests. We’ve had quite a few people contact us who’ve seen our candles from other stockists or Instagram.
I must admit I haven’t spent much time on building an email list yet, but that’s on my to-do list. I know that Shopify has that option to collect emails, build subscribers, and send out newsletters. But at the moment I just collect my customers’ details is when they order.
You recently collaborated with thicc cookies – can you tell us more about that?
Being a small Aussie business ourselves, we like supporting local. It’s like a community, when you support others, they support you as well. Before we collaborated with thicc cookies we were just customers – we were (and still are) obsessed with eating their cookies!
I tagged them in a lot of our Instagram Stories, which attracted their attention. They reached out and asked whether we were interested to collaborate – of course we said yes!
The candle development was a creative process, we really wanted to stay true to ourselves and stick to our quirky ways from the scent to the final name.
When we name a new candle, we always think about what would make it fun and thoughtful for one person to gift it to another.
What is your advice to getting your brand out there through Instagram?
1. My top tip is this: Keep posting consistently and make sure you’re engaging with your customers, involving them in your product process as much as you can.
2. Don’t be too concerned about how many likes you get on a photo, because at the end of the day, if someone wants to follow you, they will. Unfollowing is just as easy as following. Don’t get so hooked up on the numbers side of things!
“When you involve your audience in your processes, I find that they feel more appreciated and involved in your work. I think it’s because if they’ve invested their time and energy, they’ll want to see the end results.” – Marielle, Florin and Grace