42: Fragrant Candles – Interview with Louise Cox from Kiss Air Candles

Today we interview Louise from Kiss Air which sells fragrant soy wax candles.

Kiss-Air Candles Logo for web

Tell us about yourself and your background!

I always knew I wanted to be a in business so rather than doing A-Levels I did an Advanced GNVQ in Business then got accepted to Bournemouth University to study marketing and advertising. It was on a work placement I discovered a love for PR and when I left uni got a job in the industry. I liked my job but not working for someone, so in 2008 I handed in my notice to start my own agency specialising in fashion and beauty.
My sister, Laura and I bought a house and were spending money on candles that didn’t fill a room with scent when burning so, we decided to have a go at making our own. After lots of research and experimenting we had the perfect combination and gave some as gifts at Christmas. Things snowballed from there and we launched Kiss Air Candles in March 2013 with a small range of nine scents and I decided not to renew any of my PR contracts to focus on Kiss Air.

Louise and Laura Cox Kiss Air Candles

What kind of business do you run?

We hand make soy wax candles infused with fabulous and unusual fragrances such as Mojito, Really Rhubarb and Rum & Raisin!
We now have over 25 scents, independent stockists up and down the country, been featured in the Daily Mail, Metro and Coast to name a few, have celebrity fans including Denise Van Outen, Danniella Westbrook and many of the actresses from Hollyoaks. We were chosen as one of Theo Paphitis’ Small business Sunday winners, Jacqueline Gold’s Women on Wednesday (WOW) winners and were selected as one of the #smallbiz100 in 2015 as part of the Small Business Saturday initiative.

What is your daily routine of running your business?

Before anything there is coffee! I’m at my desk for 9am and check our social media accounts, emails and print off and pack new orders. After that, I head to the workshop and make candles – whether it’s for trade orders or just our own stock. I always take a lunch break and usually take the dogs for walk, so I get some fresh air and it also gives me some time to think about anything that might have dropped into the inbox that morning. After lunch, I work on the business – brainstorming marketing ideas, new products, keeping social media up to date, writing press releases, touching base with stockists/agents and doing general admin. I usually finish work about 6pm but keep abreast of social media throughout the evening.

What is your favourite fragrance? Which fragrance sells best?

My favourite changes all time – we’ve just made a batch of Toasted Marshmallow and I had forgotten how great it smells. But the fragrance I always burn is Peach Bellini – you can actually smell the Champagne bubbles!
Our bestselling fragrance is Sun Kissed Raspberry which is a lovely scent of the berry slowing ripening in the sun. Our top 10 is also flooded with our 5 Cocktail Hour candles – Pina Colada, Mojito, Frozen Margarita, Peach Bellini and Strawberry Daiquiri – it’s a really popular range but then again who doesn’t love a cocktail!

How did you set up the website? Did you build the website yourself?

When we launched we didn’t have a huge budget for an ecommerce website and wanted to be able to update it ourselves as and when. So we looked at do-it-yourself options and finally settled on Create which was easy to use to build a professional website and gave us full control. We still use the platform now but as we grow, we’re realising it can’t do everything we want it to do.

Tell us what important lessons you have learnt creating this business?

Always go with your gut instinct – it is rarely wrong.

How did you manage to get featured in so many magazines?

I have the experience of getting products featured in the press from my PR background. I am super lucky that PR and marketing comes easily to me and is a transferable skill.
My top tip to businesses wanting to get their products on the pages of the press is to know the magazine you’re targeting. There is no point pitching carpet slippers to Cosmo!

What are the best and worst parts of running your business?

The best part is getting emails and messages from customers that love Kiss Air Candles because it’s a product we’ve made. On the flipside, there are occasionally times when a customer doesn’t like a fragrance or has a complaint and it’s hard not to take it personally when you’ve created it but the positives far outweigh the negatives. Another great thing about running a business is doing what you want both within the business and on a personal level.

Can you recommend any books or websites to learn more about starting a business?

I like to read books for inspiration like Coming up roses by Cath Kidston rather than reference and guidance books. Having said that I have just purchased ‘Build a Business From Your Kitchen Table’ by Not on The High Street founder, Holly Tucker after hearing her speak at an event and I’m hoping there may be a useful nugget or two in there. I also look online for coaches and mentors for handmade and online businesses – there is loads of great information on the web (and it’s free). I’m always looking for ways to improve and grow the business.

What is your experience with paid ads? Do you recommend Google Adwords or Facebook Ads?

We don’t spend a lot of money on paid advertising and never do it in the printed press as we don’t feel it pays – that’s the PR in me talking! We only pay to boost Facebook posts every now again and found boosting the right one gives us good engagement and new likes. I’m sure paid advertising on Google, Instagram, Twitter, blogs and other platforms have benefits and it is something we will consider but at the moment we’d rather spend money on product giveaways and collaborations with other brands.

If you could start your business again what would you do differently?

I don’t think I would do anything differently. Running a business is a massive learning curve but we’ve not made any massive errors and are on the right track and growing steadily.

How much time do you spend running your business per day?

As it’s just Laura and I in the business – I spend near on all day working in and on the business. I try not work at the weekend (although I do check social media!) but we often find ourselves brainstorming over tea and toast on Saturday morning and if we’ve had a new scent come in I’ll often pop in to the kitchen to experiment!

You know you’re an entrepreneur when …

… you see opportunity in everything!

To learn more about Louise’s business please visit Kiss-Air.com.

41: Website Design – Interview with Isabella Burket from Juicy Design

Today we talk to Isabella Burket from Juicy Design, who runs a web design company in Austria.


Tell us about yourself and your company!

I began my Graphic Design education very early on, having moved out at the age of 14. I studied Media Design at the vocational school for Chemistry, Graphic work and Design in Vienna, Austria. Throughout my study, I worked closely with three different companies. It was a challenge to get a better education, and most importantly some experience, with these agencies due to the fact that they were less involved in the Media Design direction I saw myself moving towards. Upon receiving my degree, I went on to work at two different advertising agencies, which helped me to gain a lot of valuable experience working as a junior art director. Additional to varying life circumstances, I always felt very under-challenged and underworked at these agencies, which drove me to attempt a career as a self-employed graphic designer. Now I operate a successful graphic design business employing a small network of artists and other creatives from Austria, and various other places in the world. Our main focus is on offering custom design solutions at a high niveau.


What tools do you use?

I mainly utilize the Adobe CC collection, and different organizational tools such as Evernote, Skype, Slack, Balsamiq Mockup, and Spotify for concentration! We are always up to date with the latest and greatest applications, thanks to following the latest design and technological trends. We spend a lot of time at our computers.

What would you say makes you stand out from other companies?

What makes us truly stand out is the fact that we custom-cater design solutions for our clients, from the very conception of a product all the way to post-production. We are constantly in contact with our clients and partners and are available almost around the clock, 7 days a week. The degree of quality and precision we focus on injecting into each and every project makes our final product truly stand out amongst the sea of code-monkey copy-paste work much of the industry is being flooded with. I have to admit that I abide by the time-tested cliché of perfectionism that every major company director seems to describe themselves by. I find it very difficult to release a final product to the client unless it is absolutely up to my degree of quality. Fantastic initial communications are also a large part of what has kept the ball rolling, due to the fact that we can come up with a very precise cost analysis for nearly any project, which makes the drop off from conception to actual structuration a breeze. And probably the biggest standout would have to be that we truly are not a faceless corporation (crosses fingers), as I personally visit with almost each and every client within the initial consultation stage, which brings things down to a much more human and personal level which we have found works wonders in all stages of the design process.

How many international customers do you have in comparison to Austrian ones?

Our major clientele is from Austria, with 10-20% of the work coming from Germany and other neighboring European nations.

How many years are you in business? How has the business changed throughout the years?

I have personally been in the Design business since I was 16, having become self-employed and creating Juicy Design at 22. The business has gone more and more in the direction of web/multimedia design and away from print, which seems to be a stifling design sector these days. Every year so far has been more profitable than the last, which is a trend I obviously hope continues. Even small growths are celebrated as I am very proud of what I’ve accomplished myself and am extremely dedicated to making it into a large success in the future.

What was your most interesting project?

The most interesting projects have been those where I had the most impact and influence in all sectors of the Design process, such as workshops, concept art creation and face to face consultation with the customer. Due to the non-disclosure agreement I sign with all major contracts, I have to refrain from naming the company I am currently working with, which has definitely had me working on the most interesting project yet. I am currently working with a team on creating user-interface designs for an internal shop system for one of the biggest furniture companies in Austria. I have also provided design workshops for the team in the topic of UI and User Experience design.

What would you recommend other website designers? How to get started?

I would recommend that they learn and work by doing. If it is not possible to work on real projects, always work on fictional projects, as it gives you far greater experience rather than just focusing on internet and program tutorials. Try and connect with other individuals that work in the industry by going to network meetings, connecting with other workers in the same branch, online networking, etc. And most importantly, always stay up to date with the latest programs and design trends, as these can make or break your entire business.

How do you acquire new customers?

At the moment 90% through recommendations, the rest through social media advertising and freelancer group ads.

Do you use LinkedIn or Xing?

Yes, I used LinkedIn, I think it is a fantastic way of having a free business card for the internet to see.

What is the best business decision you’ve ever made?

It would have to be creating a network, which helped me meet more people and expand my knowledge of design. All the connections I made, as well as the information gathering associated with it amalgamated into the success I have today.

How did you come up with the name of the company?

I wanted to communicate the feeling and style of my design into the name somehow, and I associate the term juicy with fresh and energizing ideas. We wanted to appear as modern as possible, as we are always up to date with the latest design trends, so the association with freshness came from there.

How many people are involved in your business?

The core team consists of 4 individuals, but we work together with up to 10 freelancers at a time for larger projects.

How do you stay productive and not get distracted?

That’s a difficult topic and an incredible challenge, especially when one is self-employed and has no set time schedule. The best thing that always works is music, applying time-management techniques such as the pomodoro technique, as well as a few other time-management methods using the computer and phone. I especially enjoy walking my dog, which helps me clear my mind and is a nice change of pace during critical project sequences.

Any books about website design you can recommend?

Unfortunately, I have to say that it seems that not many people use books in the field of design anymore, with information and trends changing so fast that many can barely keep up. Instead, I follow various blogs in the field of Design and read books in my spare time, with my favorite genre being historical non-fiction.

What inspired you to start this business?

In the early days, I was constantly under-challenged and incredibly bored, which was the worst part of any job for me. I wanted to have more responsibility and manage more than just menial graphic design jobs throughout the day. I always enjoyed contact with clients, and the handling of the various phases of design from beginning to end. I thought I would just try it and see where it goes due to the minimal risks involved, and I’m glad I took the plunge as it has paid off quite well. At this point I can never see myself working in an office ever again, as I’ve become so accustomed to managing my own flow of work and client relationships.

What is your daily routine of running your business?

I am a late worker, so I never get up before 9. Late nights are a complete norm as well, as I find myself to be less distracted and most productive during late hours. First thing in the morning I check my emails, to see if any urgent work needs to be done right away. If there is, I jump out of the bed even earlier sometimes to take care of them as quickly as possible. If there’s nothing to do early in the morning, I get up and have a nice breakfast and plan the rest of the work day. I’m very addicted to making lists and planning my week accordingly. Every night before I go to bed I plan for the next day and mark things off in a to-do list fashion.

What are the best and worst parts of running your business?

The best part is most definitely the freedom of being able to manage my own time, choose when and where and who I work with, and also being responsible for myself and not relying on a fixed monthly paycheck, regardless of my performance. The absolute worst part would have to be the management of finances, the higher taxes, and the much higher health insurance costs that are associated with self-employment.

To learn about Isabella’s business please visit Juicy-Design.at.