Proprietors Jamie McGowan and Deenie Macleod have certainly been burning the candles at both ends over the past three years as their new business has lit up the world of Island commerce.
Starting out as Buth Bheag Candle Company in Tarbert, with purely local sales, the venture has blazed a trail which now sees it transformed to Essence of Harris as part what is literally a global marketing drive.
Essence of Harris was chosen as the new brand name after an exhaustive process – the company had simply totally outgrown the ‘small shop’ on the Main Street where it all began, and needed a name which better represented the business to national and international customers.
Jamie and Deenie set up Buth Bheag Candle Company in 2015 and they started out simply experimenting with pouring different scents in their kitchen and now they’re successfully running two shops and producing for stockists across the UK…with export business coming in from the US and China.
Yet it was only last December that Buth Bheag Candle Company won a top award at the UK’s first free virtual business accelerator awards, held in the Kingsmills Hotel in Inverness. Jamie and Deenie scooped the #GoDoAcceler8 award and £2,000 prize from more than 40 entrants, having continued to grow their business significantly since joining the Virtual Accelerator.
Jamie said then: “We are blessed that from the beginning of Buth Bheag Candle Company, islanders and mainlanders have helped spread the word and support us, which has made our products very popular in a short space of time.”
And speaking now he maintains that theme: “We are so grateful for the support of local shops and customers who have bought and loved our products from the beginning. And now with the new Essence of Harris title we are going to add to our ranges and products.”
The first leap off the Island took place last September when Buth Bheag Candle Company opened a shop inside the Departures lounge at Inverness Airport – where they also bring other Island products to wider public.
“It’s been very well received from people all over the world who travel through Inverness Airport,” said Jamie. “The two main sellers are our own products, which we are delighted about, and also the Ishga products which are our second-best sellers. “
Yet it was only January 2016, less than two years ago, that Buth Bheag Candle Company started production from a new business unit in East Tarbert and the firm has set about expanding its range outwith the Western Isles, such is the popularity of its products.
At the time there were two staff working part-time both at the unit and in their shop on Main Street, in Tarbert. Now there are six full-time and three part-time staff.
And there’s always something new on the way…next, it’s Candles with a Conscience. They say: “We’ve been working on something new. These environmentally friendly pots of delicious new Essence of Harris ‘Sea Drift’ scent have been designed with our planet in mind.
“In partnership with Rupert Balmire Ceramics these beautiful little pots hold the new Essence of Harris ‘Sea Drift’ scent and once the 100% soy wax disappears we’ll offer a refill service to encourage our customers to recycle.”
And all the way up to Christmas there are prizes available via their social media…culminating in the chance to win a 4 night stay for two in the 5-star Kirklea Cottages.