Small Business - MiddletreeMiddletree

Handmade, Triple Scented Soy Wax Candles & Melts

After finding herself redundant twice within 12 months and pregnant with her first child, Jemma O’Connor needed a way to supplement her partner’s income, help ease the budgetary restraints that are often experienced in one-income households and a role that would also allow her the flexibility to spend quality time with their son, all while satisfying her passion for business and design.

It was a candle spending frenzy at Christmas which led Jemma to investigate the industry further; She wanted to build a brand that was both sophisticated and affordable, while still offering the highest quality ingredients consistent with the candles currently at the forefront of the Australian retail market. She also wanted a house full beautifully scented soy candles!

Within a matter of weeks, Middletree was launched.

Here is what Jemma shared about her business.

Q. What did you do before you started this business?

Before launching Middletree, I held roles in administration, marketing and events in both Sydney and the Central Coast, with experience in the recruitment, real estate and pharmaceutical industries. I also have a Bachelor of Business (Event Management) and run a small online promotions company, which serves as a local event guide for the Central Coast region.

Q. Did you have any business training before you started?

While I had experience running a business using the sole trader structure, I have been lucky enough to work closely with and be mentored by managers and business owners in my previous roles over the last 10 years. My degree also covered topics such as accounting, human resources, marketing and law.

Q. Describe your business and products/services you offer

Middletree is a luxurious new home decor brand, that provides high quality yet affordable candles and home fragrance range. Our products are Australian made, hand poured and triple scented, using 100% soy wax and lead free wicks.

Q. How long have you been running your business?

Middletree has been running since 1st January, 2014.

Q. How many hours a week do you work in your business?

30+ hours per week.

Q. What kind of online and offline marketing do you do and which is working for you?

Our online marketing consists of networking, giveaways and interaction with complimentary brands, people and our customers through social media. Offline, we answer a lot of PR opportunities that we feel are either in line with our image and audience, where may see a gap in the market or to possibly provide a new way to think about an old idea. Both appear to be working extremely well at present in raising brand awareness of Middletree.

Q. Do you use social media as part of your marketing?

For Middletree, social media is the deriving force behind our marketing. It has proven to be a cheap and successful way to promote our brand by connecting with like minded people and their businesses, as well as creating awareness and allowing our business to be easily accessed by and to communicate with our customers.

Q. What mistakes have you made in running your business and what lessons have you learnt from those?

Trying to offer too much too soon. Don’t go too hard too fast; thoroughly investigate your market, keep the core products to a minimum, build on them as your business grows and define your brand image. This allows you to gain a better understanding of the needs of your consumers without wasting unnecessary funds on purchasing product with which there is no demand and therefore will not convert to profit, as well as limiting deviation from the image you want your brand to convey.

Q. How has your website helped you run your business?

Thanks to our e-commerce functions, the website has helped streamline our processes and makes it easier for our customers to purchase their goods. The orders can be tracked and managed with ease, allowing us to accept payments and monitor cash-flow, trends and visitor habits.

Q. What obstacles or challenges are you facing at the moment?

As with any business, especially a relatively new venture, ensuring our product stands out from our competitors, increasing brand awareness and generating leads that convert to sales, either through direct sale with the customer or via a stockist. Time and money is also an obstacle facing most.

Q. Any other comments / points you would like to share about running your business?

Do your research, be ruthless with your range/brand image – think like the customer – and remember to take some time for you.

For more information visit the Middle Tree website.