My Career: It’s been hard work setting up my candle business... but worth it

Lorna Kirby, Chandler, founder of Is Mise Candles tells us about her career path and how she she up her business in our weekly My Career feature
My Career: It’s been hard work setting up my candle business... but worth it

Lorna Kirby, Chandler, founder of Is Mise Candles

Name: Lorna Kirby

Age: 45 

Lives: Ballinacarriga, West Cork 

Job title: I’m a candle maker or the official title is ‘Chandler’

Salary bracket: As it’s a new business and I’m still building, I’m not in a position to take a salary yet as any profits go back into the business to build it.

Education background: I’m originally from Clonakility and went to school at Sacred Heart Secondary School. Then I went on to do a PLC in Hospitality Studies in the Technical College in Clonakilty. 

I followed that by 2 years studying Hospitality at CIT and then completed the Restaurant Supervisory course at GMIT Hobbies: I’m very creative and I love gardening and baking. And candle making of course.

Describe your job in 5 words: Time consuming with excellent end results 

Describe yourself in 5 words: Fun, hardworking, kind, supportive and I’m a tad competitive.

Personality needed for this kind of work: Patience, lots and lots of patience How long are you doing this job: I set up my business in August 2020, so its still all very new but its growing every day.

How did you get this job: My background is in hospitality, I absolutely loved working in this industry and got to work in some amazing hotels with fantastic teams over the years. I spent 11 years part-time working at Dunmore House Hotel in Clonakilty, these were great times, I love meeting new people and there is something very special about working in family run hotel.

In 2017 I gave up work in hospitality to focus on family and we also moved to the countryside, in Ballinacarriga and we haven’t looked back. My new career in candle making happened, almost by accident, although I feel my late mother, had a hand in it. Sadly, my mother passed away in April 2020, a few months later I was struck by a memory scent. A memory scent is a deja vu moment, is different for everyone, it could be a memory of a person or a place or in my case a memory from my childhood. 

As children, my mother would take me and my siblings, 7 of us, on ‘The rabbit walk’, I can honestly say I never saw rabbits but I remember the smell of wild honeysuckle growing on the ditches, it was amazing. 

Last year, completely out of the blue literally I was coming down the stairs and boom I could smell this honeysuckle and instantly I was transported to ‘The rabbit walk’. 

It’s bittersweet as the person that inspired me to use this memory scent wasn’t here to ring or text, but I know deep down she would be immensely proud and would have been with me every step of the way, pushing me to succeed.

The first year has been hard work but so worth it. Firstly, I studied a lot to fully understand the process and it took many trials and failed attempts until I had a product I am proud of that is all me. And that is just the candle making side of things, I’m also embracing all that is involved in making a business a success and being self employed, I’m learning every day. I’ve joined Network Ireland West Cork and already they have been an incredible support to me. I’ve also found the people in my locality and my family have been so supportive of my new venture.

Do you need qualifications or experience: Neither apply as it’s up to yourself to gain essential knowledge along the way. For me personally I did both a certificate and diploma course in candle making as you can never know too much.

Describe a day at work: I have two children, aged 5 and 18, so I try to fit my work around school runs. I start work at 9.30am, after the school runs. Everything is cleaned down and the candle glasses are warmed in the oven. Everything is measured, melted and mixed then poured into the warmed and wicked glasses. I try to finish up before school collections, everything is cleaned down and ready to start the next morning. As my business is growing, I’m spending more time developing new candles.

How many hours do you work: I can honestly say I am always working when it comes to my candle business whether its making them or looking for inspiration or reading up on candles or advertising them.

What do you wear to work: Thankfully its not a uniform as its only me so casual clothing. My 5 year old doesn’t think I have any clean t-shirts as when I collect him from school I smell of fragrance oil and have soy wax on me, so no I’m definitely not one of those yummy mummies at the school gate.

Is your industry male or female dominated: Neither its very much unisex Does this affect me: This industry is for everyone Is your job stressful: Not really as a candle maker you have good and bad days. When it goes right, the process can be very rewarding.

Do you work with others: I work on my own at the moment but as orders increase, I do hope to take on staff in the future.

When do you plan to retire: Well considering I have just started my business, I don’t plan to retire anytime soon. I have often dreamed of booking a holiday for 1 to Spain, so that might be my first treat to myself for all the hard work.

Best bits: It has to be feedback from people who love my candles. I also love to tell the story of how the memory scent sparked me to start candle making.

Worst bits: This is a competitive market but already I can see there is space for my products in this market.

Any other comments: I love what I do and I sometimes have a chat to myself in the mirror now and again to tell myself you have got this now, go buzz it up !! But that’s just me.

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