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The Gem Scents Story So Far

“From small acorns grow mighty oaks.”

 

The Gem Scents story is an incredible rollercoaster ride for a start up company in its first year. During the first lockdown Laura, who had been a stay-at-home mum for 8 years, decided to try her hand at making candles. She had been buying soy wax scented candles from several local companies but wanted to give it a try as a way of relaxing after the day full of home schooling and to help pass the time when no one could leave their homes and when others were discovering other hobbies (who remembers banana bread?)

After a long process of trial and error she started to get the method and formulas right and began to experiment with various colours, pots, wick combinations and decorations. Soon the candles were taking up too much space and she had more than she knew what to do with. She started giving them away to friends and family who were all very supportive and really liked them. It was only when a neighbour (who had also turned a hobby into a small business during lockdown) asked to buy one as a gift and suggested that others may be interested in buying them too. Laura realised that it might be a nice way to make some extra money doing something she loved.

Laura wanted to make her candles stand out from the crowd and several soy wax candle companies were using botanicals to decorate their candles which looks pretty but in fact is potentially dangerous as they are all flammable and basically make an additional wick. Laura’s Mum had been making and selling genuine gemstone jewellery for years so Laura decided that she would decorate the candles with stones and tailor each gemstone colour to each scent. It was because of this combination that, with a little bit of help from her oldest daughter, she came up with the name Gem Scents. She designed a label with a local graphic designer and got them printed.

She started Facebook and Instagram pages and tried to market them to a wider audience. Yet again she was supported by friends and neighbours who helped to spread the word and were also happy to buy them. Followers grew and they were selling a couple of candles a week when Laura decided that the company needed a boost. Her husband, Ross, did some research and put together a basic website to sell from. Sales were slow but steady and Laura wanted to push for more. She approached hundreds of Instagram home account influencers with little to no effect until she got a response from Ellie aka @journeytoforeverhome. Ellie is super supportive to small businesses and was more than happy to help promote them. As soon as she did there was a spike in sales and followers, and Laura knew that she wanted to work with Ellie more frequently.

She wasn’t happy with the original label, so she redesigned it to be more modern and minimalist and Ellie helped with the launch. The sales and followers really jumped this time as the new look really went down well with customers. Laura introduced lots of new scents, frequently added new candle jars and offered a huge variety of choice including diffusers with pretty flower reeds and bath bombs amongst some of the products that were on offer. Business was so good in early 2021 that Ross had to help her full time.

The couple were then approached by some investors who wanted to invest and grow the company and take it to the next level. They went along with them as they claimed to have access to large companies, celebrities and new markets. This is when Gem Scents went through its second stage of growth and rebranding. They developed a new look, started to have much more polished professional photographs and a new design of label. The candles themselves never changed, they were still the same popular formula and design of stones. The relaunch went well, and they had a new way of working. Rather than making to order Laura and Ross made candles for stock and had a fulfilment centre send out orders every two days. This really helped with customer expectations and service. They launched various ranges, and all were popular with their customers.

There were some amazing highs in 2021 too. Gem Scents was featured in Vogue 3 times, was nominated for “branding of the year” at the National Social Media awards. The ultimate high was having a pop-up shop in John Lewis in Milton Keynes where Laura and Ross got to see people’s reactions to their products in person for the very first time. The pop up was a roaring success and what was only supposed to be a week was extended to three weeks. Also, whilst they were at John Lewis they had a Black Friday event online which created record sales for the brand.

Then came a crushing blow. The “investors” turned out to be not all that they had seemed in the beginning and they were caught out and the relationship fell apart very rapidly. This left Laura and Ross in an awful position as it was December, one of the busiest times of year, and they had no product and no way of selling it.

However, they are completely passionate about Gem Scents and were not going to let it go without a fight. They got their domain name back, dealt with trademark lawyers to deal with those issues and thankfully had the support of their customers and followers on Instagram as well as their lovely brand ambassadors. And In January they relaunched with a new look and the new design you see on this website but, as always, the same wonderful candles.

We are really excited to move on to this new chapter and can’t wait to add to our story in the coming months…