ROAR: What made you decide to start your own business with Avani Candles & Aromas?
Sharleen: After working in administration/reception for 6 years and never enjoying it I can honestly say I was being eaten away from the inside out. I came to the point where (for my own sanity and peace!) I had to quit my job, although I had no direction as to where I was headed to next. Anyone who knows me knows I'm not cut out for sitting behind a computer all day and answering phone calls. I am wired in a totally different way!
So when I started making candles and found something I could use my creative side in, I thought why not give a business a go and be my own boss!
Running your own business from home, what more could you ask for! It's really the best decision I ever made.
ROAR: Who has inspired you to be creative in your life and how have they done this?
Sharleen: If I had to pick someone in my life that has influenced me somewhat creatively it would have to be my dad. He is a great musician and I've played bass guitar since I was 13 so I give that credit to him. He introduced us to playing an instrument early on in life and I'm so glad he did.
But I also branched out further into other types of creativity, even from an early age. I remember always being good at sketching/painting and crafty stuff in school and of course it's something I will always love. I really believe it's a gift and something you are born with because you can't teach someone how to be creative, it comes from within.
But I do draw a lot of inspiration from nature, travelling, cultures and music when it comes to my life in general. The earth is absolutely amazing, how can it not inspire us?!
ROAR: Making and designing candles is a very challenging and creative process. How did you get into doing this?
Sharleen: After I quit my job at the end of 2012 I got into a couple of different hobbies that I'd never really had a go at before. I bought myself a candle making kit and enjoyed it so much I started buying more supplies. Then, before I knew it I had a business name registered and I was on my way.
But yes, it does have its challenges, ones that you don't realise unless you want to be able to sell a good quality product. I've had to do a lot of research and testing to come up with the products I sell and as frustrating as it's been at times it's also been fun and very worthwhile.
ROAR: How do you differentiate from other candle makers. What do you offer that is special to your customers?
Sharleen: I pride myself in knowing I am selling candles that I have put a lot of time, care and effort into. Image is everything when it comes to your business, it should never be compromised. But most importantly you should never skimp on the quality of your supplies! If you want to be the best, you have to provide the best. And for that you will reap the rewards.
I make sure all my supplies are eco-friendly and that my waxes are cultivated on plantations which don't harm the environment or wildlife. That is exactly what Avani as a business stands for - taking care of the earth and its environment while being able to enjoy what it has given to us.
ROAR: What have been some of your favourite successes along this journey of being a small creative business owner?
Sharleen: My very first customer came along before I had even sold a candle! I had just finished a yoga class at a well known yoga studio in Newcastle when I got talking to a lady in the lift. Turns out she was the owner. Just a few days before I had thought of what a perfect place it would be to have soy jar candles and what I could do to introduce my candles to them. So, long story short, the lift ride with the owner was perfect timing. As nervous as I was to ask her how I could go about this, I had a feeling that I just had to do it. I almost chickened out but right at the last second as we were parting ways I turned around, got her attention again and told her about my candles and how I was in the process of starting my business. Turns out they had been searching for someone local to buy soy candles from and didn't have any luck! The next day I was back in there showing them samples of my fragrances and they put their first order in. I now do their re-fills and they love them.
Talk about listening to that voice inside! If I hadn't I would have missed out on a great opportunity. It taught me that I should always take opportunities when they are presented because really, the worst thing they can say is no thanks but you just never know when the answer will be yes!
ROAR: What are some exciting things in the future for you and your business?
Sharleen: Eventually, my aim will be to focus mainly on supplying to day spas, hotels/resorts and yoga studios etc. Hopefully this is a niche that hasn't been tapped into too much yet, as it seems candles are more of an arts/crafts market type of product. So all going to plan I will get some good clients and that will mean large, regular orders. But of course, I will keep making them available to the general public because there is just so much you can do with candles. Home decor, weddings, baby showers, and any special occasion... there is a lot of room to expand and grow. So who knows where it can take me! All I know is I'm keeping an open mind and I am ready to enjoy the ride.