Truly Lovely Candles & Tricia – The origin story

Tricia Davison is a lovely, bubbly lady.

She also happens to be one of our craft collective and performs many important functions behind the scenes at LHF.  Yet she would argue that her greatest skill is communication with the customers and stallholders on our fair days.  There’s nothing she loves more than a good chat with a customer, and if she’s away from her stall you can guarantee that she will be off checking that everyone’s ok, be they the mum of the group, the child or even the slightly bewildered husband!
I got together with Tricia over a cup of coffee in my garden to find out how she came to be at this point in her life with a successful, gorgeously scented business that is well known in the local area for its amazing fragrances, fast and efficient service, all under the Truly Lovely Candles banner.
It all started at a very early age with her love of different smells; some of her earliest memories are of making perfumes with the petals from roses and other flowers by mixing them with water.  I remember doing this at least once as a child, but it sounds as though Tricia found her affinity with fragrances to be a strong one, as she used to visit Selfridges and Liberty in London, and spend all her time in fragrance halls immersed in the many different aromas.
“I’m always smelling things” she says to me with a grin on her face, as if she’s had some funny looks when she’s mentioned this in the past.  Yet I know exactly where she’s coming from.  I think we all have a particular smell we love, whether it’s fresh coffee, newly printed magazines or a just-extinguished match.
Tricia was taught the importance of skin and hair care from an early age by her mother who had a skin condition, so it was always going to be a natural progression into her teens and early adult life to work in the cosmetics and fragrance industries.  She completed her work experience at Fenwick department store, progressing to a Saturday job once the work experience had ended.  A job in Selfridges in Oxford followed.  At 19 she went on to work for Helena Rubenstein as one of their youngest ever consultants, for which Tricia was a brilliant fit at the time.  There followed some other impressive fragrance and cosmetics buying jobs for various companies including a string of independent chemists; Estee Lauder and Clinique, to name but a few.
“I have always loved the luxurious side of things” she tells me.  “I’m also always trying the latest new brands, such as a new mascara, and this helps me keep up with the latest trends”  She goes on to mention how she’s always loved candles and bought many over the years.
I want to find out what it was that made her decide to go for it; that special ‘spark’ that enables us to go from a cracking idea, to the reality of running your own business.
“It was five or six years ago and I was working for another business at the time.  I had been making my own candles for a while; just for me really, and some of my friends and family.  Then one day, I just made the decision to hand my notice in and go for it.  The next week I was making my candles and selling them at local events.”
Her love of fragrances exploded from there, and Truly Lovely Candles was created.
She has some simply stunning scents in her repertoire, including Lime, Basil and Mandarin, English Pear and Freesia, and White Mulberry, to name but a few.  She bridges traditional and modern perfectly and each fragrance has a very pure quality to it.  Nothing smells over-manufactured or fake.

Beautiful packaging adds to the luxury.

Just a few of the many TLC fragrances

Each soya wax candle is hand poured into various different mediums including glass votives, tins and tea lights.  She even does special orders for various customers in tea cups, which she assures me creates their very own set of challenges: The art of candle pouring and the science behind a ‘good wick’ and the diameter of the teacup changes from cup to cup.  “This always keeps me on the ball and concentrating” she laughs.
Recently she’s gone on to produce extremely high quality reed diffusers with her signature scents.  (I can actually attest to this personally-I’m rather obsessed with her White Mulberry reeds, which are still going strong months and months later!)
When asked about her plans for the future, she nods contentedly and grins.  “More of the same, really.  I love creating new scents for special orders, and working closely with people such as brides to create something special for them.”
She’s very happy with her lot.  She loves working from her kitchen with her ‘pots and pans’ as she calls them!  She’s perfected juggling a husband and children with ‘test burns’ and pootling around the county delivering her products to a select few independent shops.  “The most important thing to me is to keep it personal.  I will always want to be interacting with my customers.  I love the whole ‘people’ side of the business.”
So there you have it.  A small insight into the Truly Lovely Candle story.  Tricia is a driven, talented lady with an infectious laugh.  After a few minutes in her company it’s clearly obvious that the TLC acronym wasn’t a fluke.  She really does create her candles with Tender Loving Care.

The Truly Lovely Tricia

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One Special Piece Of Perfect.

A perfect description!

The wonderful Kate Creates.

Part of the beauty of our LHF craft cooperative is sharing our many combined years of experience. A couple of weeks ago, I received a message from a brand new crafty lady who was looking to hire a stall with us, and she was feeling a little bit down.  She’d done a craft fair in a different area, and hadn’t sold as much as she thought she might.

Well, I hope she doesn’t mind me sharing a version of my reply to her on our blog here.  I found it really interesting because she sounded like me, four years ago.

Here’s the gist of it:

So, you’ve had a great idea, you get cracking on it, produce it to a high standard, take it along to a fair, then wonder why people aren’t snapping your products up?

Yep, that was exactly how I felt when I first started.  It took a good few months to relax into it, choose venues more carefully (eg not doing school Christmas fetes unless you’re a tombola stall!) and try and get into your customer’s heads more.  But above all, it’s the realisation that although you love your products and can’t possibly think of any scenario where someone else wouldn’t, there will be many people out there who have differing views on design, finish and especially price!

As handmade craft stallholders, one of the things we constantly have to battle against is the misconception from the general public that because it’s handmade, it should be cheaper than anything they might buy from a ‘normal’ shop. This is very definitely not the case, yet they don’t see what goes on behind the scenes:  All the hours thinking carefully about colours, textures and design…..all the while fitting it all in between jobs, children, husbands, dogs and the odd bit of sleep!

So one of the main points I would make to you is don’t give up just yet. Think about when you walk into a shop. You might buy something, but leave 99.9% of the products there for someone else to buy. It’s the same for a craft fair.  Some people come in purely to browse, but then another might come in and give you a commission.

My mum comes with me to most of my events, and I constantly have to remind her that we can’t force sales on to people, however much we might wish to!  She still occasionally gets indignant and says things such as ‘well what’s wrong with these people, why are they rejecting us?’

But I’m more laid back.  If at the start I had gone into it thinking it was going to make me the next Alan Sugar, I certainly don’t think of it now!

Yesterday, one of the things I sold was a £25 necklace.  The time before that at a different craft fair, I hardly made any money at all.  So people do spend money, but in reality only a small percentage per number of visitors at each fair.  This is where as large as possible numbers for footfall comes into it.  We are a new venture (being only three months old) but we have had encouraging numbers through the door at all of our events so far. We have roughly 2-20 (ish) people visiting us at any one time, continually throughout the day.  I know this doesn’t sound like a lot, but I have been to some events where it has been horrendous with only 4 visitors the whole day, and two of those were the husbands!

People also respond to just the right amount of friendliness from the stall holder.  Pushy crafters scare the customers away, but conversely, sullen-looking ones always seem to have less interest too!  Now of course I’m not at all suggesting that you’re either of these types, having never met you, just simply that there’s as much of an art to being a stall holder and running a small business, as the art itself!

So there you have it – the first of probably many insights into the minds of the crafters we have with us at Love Handmade Fairs.  Of course this is just my opinion. But one who shares some of my views (and illustrates it in THE most beautiful way possible) is a lady called Kate, who has very graciously let me feature her beautiful work on this blog.  I think you’ll agree with her if you’re a creative person, and if you’re all of the lovely people out there who buy our creations, we hope you agree too!  I hope that when you’re next at a craft fair, you find your own ‘special piece of perfect’

Support independent sellers.  Support handmade!

Thanks Kate!  And thanks for reading,

Jenn, LHF

 

The origins of Love Handmade Fairs

Welcome to the Love Handmade Fairs blog!

Some of you may have stumbled on to here, others probably meant to be here all along.  Whichever category you fall into, welcome!  Many people have been asking us how we have come into being, so below is the story of our creation….

Well it all started when we all answered an advert two years ago to hire tables at an exciting new Christmas Pop Up Shop in Warwick town centre.  There were many different stall holders that year, and we had a ball.  We had such a good time that the organiser decided to repeat it for Christmas 2013 too.  There were 9 of us who had regular stalls and got on so well, that we thought it would be a cracking idea to carry it on through the whole year.  Love handmade fairs was established!  We are a fabulous team of creators, and each of us bring something different to the table….

From Nicci’s enviable skills on the computer working on all of our branding, to Jane’s beautiful artwork which forms the basis of those designs.  From Julie’s talent at keeping us all on track at meetings and her near-supernatural powers at remembering what was said, to Nicola’s experience of running the pop up shop for two years and the myriad challenges involved.  From Anita’s essential knowledge of what people want, how to get it to them, and her wonderful design style.  From Tricia’s unparalleled ability to network and market our brand, to Susan’s support and venue scouting skills (and her cupcakes!)  Then there’s me.  Well I like writing – almost as much as I like talking, so I do all the emailing and booking in of the stallholders!

We’re doing alternate months in Warwick and Leamington, in St Nicholas Church in Warwick, and Dale Street Church Hall in Leamington.  They’re great venues because they’re big, so we can fill the room with lots of lovely goodies for people to choose from.  Our fairs are generally the first Saturday of the month, but there are one or two exceptions, so it’s a good idea to check our Facebook page or the website which is coming soon.  There’s also a tea room serving scrummy handmade cakes, tea and coffee; so it’s a great place to come and put your feet up with a cup of tea before you look round at all of the tempting handmade items.

Yesterday, we had 19 different small businesses for everyone to browse through, from hand poured scented candles, to sparkly jewellery and gorgeous hand painted water colours.  We’ve got stuff for dog and cat lovers, fab wooden items for the home, and loads of other items too numerous and fantastic to mention all of them here!

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There’s loads of opportunity to order bespoke items from each of us, so if you’re looking for a specific birthday present or the perfect gift for your mum/aunt/sister/gran/neighbour’s dog or even the postman, then we’re sure there will be something for everyone!

We think it’s really important to ‘shop local’, so as much as possible, all of our stallholders are from the Warwickshire area.  The quality is really high, so don’t just think it’s all plonking a sparkly crystal on a jam jar and shouting “ta da!”

We are aiming to have one stall per month run by a local charity; our first month was The Warwickshire Air Ambulance, as worthy a charity as it gets.  We feel that it’s an important chance to acknowledge the reality of all of these local charities.  They all need the awareness for their causes raised as much as possible.  So if you’re a local registered charity and would like the chance to run a FREE stall for the day, we’d love to hear from you!

We’ll have an ever changing selection of artisan goods each month too, so we really are hoping to build up a good customer base, where people feel it’s worth coming back to us every month.

So that’s it!  A short(ish!) informative(ish!) account of who we are and what we do.  Check us out on Facebook, Twitter, and most importantly, in person at our fairs!

www.facebook.com/lovehandmadefairs

https://twitter.com/LHFairs 

Jenn, Love Handmade Fairs

info@lovehandmadefairs.co.uk