‘It’s amazing how a few twists of fate led me to what I do now’
They say life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans. And Beverley Pollington can never have imagined where life was going to take her when she was at school choosing her A-level subjects.
These days, she is the founder of Candle de la Creme, an innovative massage candle company that is making huge inroads into the lucrative spa market, but back at school she was torn between art and science.
When Beverley was younger, she didn’t really know what she wanted to do, but she ended up studying science at A-level. However, fate was to take an unexpected turn.
“Just before I did my A-levels, unbeknown to me, I fell pregnant with my daughter, but it wasn’t until after A-levels that I found out,” she says. “I was due to go to university but, because I was expecting my daughter, I took a couple of years out and studied for another A-level in psychology.
Beverley, from Jordanstown, loved psychology but ended up working in the Civil Service. It wasn’t until she was on maternity leave with her second child that fate took another turn.
“When I was off on maternity leave with Daniel, I reignited the creative side of myself through candle-making,” she says. “It’s like women and shoes — women seem to love candles as well.
“Basically, I love candles. I love the different fragrances, I love candles, I love fragrance, I love massage, so all these elements I’ve put into one product.
“I was doing research into making a candle when I was on maternity leave. And coming up to Christmas, the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum was running a little workshop, Make Your Own Candles.
“But before that, I had been thinking about it — I had a bit of extra time and I thought it would be a nice wee outlet.”
When Beverley was carrying out her research, there were a few key factors to consider. The candles had to be vegetable-based, using a substance such as soybean wax, and she wanted to use essential oils for the fragrance. She was trying out different combinations and making her own formulae.
“I was carrying out research on the internet and stumbled across an American firm that was manufacturing massage candles that looked really interesting,” Beverly says. “I started making those as well, using my own concoctions.”
The idea is that the candle melts into a warm pool that can then be poured directly on to the skin for a relaxing massage.
“It melts at a few degrees above body temperature, so it will never burn your skin,” Beverly says.
Ingredients include skin-friendly treats, such as vitamin E in soybean, shea butter, sweet almond oil and mango butter.
“I decided to take it a step further, making candles to target specific parts of the body, instead of one-size-fits-all massage candles,” Beverley explains.
“I made pregnancy candles for expectant mothers — they massage into their bumps, so you have to be careful what essential oils you use — and I made decolletage candles designed for thinner, more delicate skin.
“I developed a sports massage candle with sweet birch oil, which is good for relaxing the muscles, and spa massage candles, which can also be used as bath oil.”
The candles were soon picked up by Belfast’s Merchant Hotel spa, which uses them to scent treatment rooms before clients arrive and then apply as a massage oil once they melt.
The world of business was at first completely alien to Beverly, and she knew that she need some support.
“It was kind of like going into the wilderness and not knowing what steps to take and what path to go down,” she says.
“I applied for a business programme sponsored by the Ulster Bank, called Entrepreneurial Spark, and that was absolutely fantastic. The support they have given me with regards to product testing... it’s been a bit of a learning curve, that side of things.
“What was surprising was that I discovered I really liked pitching. It’s a challenge and I do love a challenge. After a period of being on the programme, I became comfortable getting in front of a room full of people and pitching my business.”
Beverley’s mentor on the programme even suggested applying for Dragon’s Den, but she decided to wait for a while.
“I think I’m too early on my journey to go on it,” Beverly says. I would like to organically grow the business first.
“I’ve secured a big order from Bedeck, which retails in the Linen Green in Dungannon, and we’re launching our full collection there towards the end of next month, so that’s really exciting.
“This is my first big retailer, but I’ve showcased in the Savoy Hotel in London and was invited to supply 200 candles for their VIP guests at a big charity ball — that was good exposure.”
Beverley has been working with KPMG to draw up business projections for the next three to five years and is hoping to become an Invest NI client.
“Through that, I would love to see what’s available in the Dubai luxury spa market — I’ve sold products to a couple of spas there,” she says. “It’s definitely a market with huge potential. I believe in the products and they have some unique selling points. The spa market is worth billions globally.”
Belfast Telegraph Digital