As part of our meet the maker series we caught up with the lovely Kirsteen
who is behind our favourite candle brand Cicely and May.
Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your business.
I’m Kirsteen, I live in our home in Lancashire with my husband and three children. I own Cicely & May, which started as an online store selling just handmade soy candles and has grown to include soy melts, reed diffusers and a selection of homeware. I make all the home fragrance products myself in our kitchen.
The brand name is beautiful, what is the story behind it?
My Grandmother’s name was Cicely and I think it’s so beautiful. May is the month of my husband’s birthday and I thought they sounded lovely together.
How did Cicely and May begin? What made you start the business?
I’d made candles as gifts for friends and family over the years and loved it. Then in January 2019, sat in a café with my husband, I told him how I really wanted to start my own business doing something creative. Making candles to sell was the obvious idea as it was something I enjoyed doing so I went home, ordered all the supplies I needed that day and started testing, testing, and more testing. We set up a website, added the products (I started with 5 differently fragranced candles) and went live in March 2019. They were so well received by our customers that I added more fragrances and then more products.
Name 3 amazing things about running your own business.
I love that I can experiment, change and tweak things - it’s completely up to me!
It genuinely makes me so happy seeing the products I’ve created and the products I’ve spent so much time choosing in other people’s homes.
I’m doing something I really love every single day, and the kids are so interested and excited by it - they all help, ask what I’m doing that day and how it’s going all the time. I love that they can see all sides to running a business - me creating products, packing and sending orders, all the admin etc and I hope it inspires them - they see that it’s hard work but also just how rewarding it is.
Name 3 challenges of running your own business.
Keeping on top of everything - the website, stock levels, supplies…it’s a never-ending job but I have an amazing husband who is brilliant at business and is always happy to get involved.
Time - I always try to work and get everything done in school hours, (now we’re out of lockdown) so that once the kids are home I can help with reading and homework etc. Sometimes if it’s extra busy I might need to do a few jobs after they’re home from school and I can’t help but feel guilty; they don’t mind whatsoever that doesn’t stop the mum guilt. To try and avoid this though I try to get up early and get anything I need to get done then.
Hoping customers like new products I introduce - really I just pick the items I love and have in my own home and hope they’ll be loved as much as I love them - but I still get butterflies when I launch something new. Thankfully my customers are lovely and have loved everything so far. On the flip side of that it’s so exciting to find something you think will work and your customers love it!
Reflecting upon your journey so far, what piece of advice would you give another who is just starting out or thinking about setting up their own business?
I would definitely say to remember there’s room for everyone - if you’re passionate about something it’ll shine through! There are thousands of candle making businesses out there but that didn’t put me off - I love making candles and hoped that customers would see how much I care about making the best quality products. Also, don’t be deterred by how many jobs there are to do before you start or whilst you’re setting up - it’s completely worth it.
Of all the products you create, which is your personal favourite?
The soy candles. The original product I made and the one I hope Cicely & May is known for. Just don’t ask me to choose which fragrance is my favourite :)
Please share a couple of your favourite Instagram accounts and give the reason why you love them..
Oh gosh, so many to choose from… I absolutely LOVE Instagram, I find it so inspiring. I love @littlespree, Sarah has the most gorgeous style and the gift guides she compiles at Christmas are just brilliant - I always buy a few things from them.
@courtneyadamo is another account I always check, she’s an all round super mum and her craft ideas for the kids and child related recommendations are always spot on.
If I can pick one more I’d choose @ailiewilliams.styling. Such a beautiful, calming feed to scroll through and each image is just gorgeous.