Case Study 3 – Sarah McAlinden, Drumross Candle Co.

1. Describe your business

We are a small start-up company of two partners, who produce hand poured luxury soy candles infused with essential oils. We use local products and materials wherever possible, to support local and small businesses.

2. What made you register for the NMD Business Growth programme?

As a small start-up business we had a limited budget, so we thought the programme would allow us to avail of free mentoring and support from those who had specialist expertise in start-up enterprises.

We hoped it would give us practical advice and put us in touch with other business support initiatives, as well as providing networking opportunities. We also wanted to help to develop an accurate forecast for our business.

Based in Newry, the programme was also very convenient for us.

3. Has the programme been beneficial to your business?

The programme has been very beneficial. The first meetings in Newry helped us to create a realistic business projection. It gave us the opportunity to discuss with an expert what we wanted from the business and what direction we wanted to take it in. It highlighted the areas that we needed the most support in and areas we needed to concentrate on to make it a success.

Having the support of Full Circle to help develop our website and social media was invaluable. Andrew really understood our business, our brand and how we wanted to launch it. He helped us do this thanks to his knowledge and expertise, and he was such a delight to work with.

4. What are the key learnings you have taken from the programme?

We have a few key learnings, including;

  • Be practical about things.
  • Don’t be too over ambitious about your business at the beginning.
  • Using the right people and the right resources will help us to achieve our long-term vision for the business.
  • Recognise other valuable people or new contacts who can help and support us.
  • Communication is extremely powerful. 

5. Has your company grown or identified new areas for growth through the programme?

Yes, our company has grown more than we had anticipated in less than a year. Initially we thought it would be a small cottage industry but it has grown very quickly and successfully.

The power of social media has definitely helped launch the business into a recognisable brand already. We have diversified into a diffuser range and are being stocked in 5 different retail outlets, as well as selling through our website. 

6. Would you recommend the programme to other businesses?

I would definitely recommend the programme. Initially we planned to go it alone, but the programme was a great stepping stone, helping us build a strong business plan and set goals to work towards.

It identified the areas we needed most support to help launch our business, so the free mentoring and expertise for our specific needs was perfect and invaluable to us.