There were great third birthday celebrations on Friday evening (May 18th) in Tarbert for one of the fastest growing companies on the Isle of Harris, Essence of Harris, formerly the Buth Bheag Candle Company.
Founder and director Jamie McGowan said after the event: “Thank you so much to everyone who came along to our factory launch and 3rd birthday party last night!
“As always, your support was incredible, and we had so much fun showing you all a little insight into the candle-making process!
“A big thanks has to go to all of the wonderful local businesses who made food/drinks for the night, it made the occasion even more special for us.”
Staff, customers, invited guests, visitors from the US and Canada, and many others, young and old, joined in the fun at the event which allowed the company to show of its large new premises on the outskirts of Tarbert, formerly occupied by the national building repair and maintenance services GSH Group, and which had been empty since GSH shut the office down in 2014.
Jamie explained to the crowd how the company had worked with the British Candle Foundation to produce a new wax made from Scottish rapeseed oil. He looked back to their first days, three years ago, when they were working from their kitchen. Orders were coming in faster and they were planning to expand production further. He went on to demonstrate how the candles were poured and then later on, guests had a chance to do that themselves.
John Murdo Morrison, speaking on behalf of the local community, thanked Jamie and Deenie for all their work and their inspiration. “They have now proved themselves on of the most successful entrepreneurs we have had for many, many years in Harris. I think that we owe them a great debt of gratitude and we will continue to support them in all their efforts to expand this name of Harris throughout the world.”
Earlier in the year, after taking over the new premises, and after clearing everything out of the building, it was given a lick of paint from top-to-bottom, inside and out, and kitted out with brand new Essence of Harris signs – making the whole place start to feel like home.
Jamie and Deenie’s vision for the new building was to create a warm, friendly and inviting factory; a place where they could hold interactive days, allowing locals and tourists alike to join in the candle-making fun, and a space where they could invite stockists and corporate guests to understand the Essence of Harris journey further.
And so, the ‘Scent Experience’ room was designed. With handmade furniture designed by Jamie and Deenie and created by Jonathan Rowe (in conjunction with the Stornoway Sawmill), and a soothing Seilebost image to set the tone, the scenting room was complete.
Looking back, the company moved into their original factory in Urgha in October 2015, and “having a space where we could pour candles, helped pave the way for the business to grow into the bustling, happy candle company it is today.
“We shared birthdays, candle-making parties, and hen-dos in our old unit, and it will always be a place which will hold happy and very special memories for us all.”
Speaking of the public backing which the business received from Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Jamie said: “HIE have provided us with such an important support network over the last three years which has allowed Essence of Harris to grow into the brand it is today.
“Making use of the one-to-one advice available, the specific business courses held for the public and the encouragement we received during the rebrand, HIE have been with us throughout."
Ian McCulloch, HIE’s Head of Regional Development, said: “We are delighted to see an important commercial property being taken back into effective use by Essence of Harris.
“This is a great example of an ambitious company being supported to increase production and employment in the area.”