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IN A YEAR which has witnessed major disruptions to events such as weddings, christenings and funerals, a family-run candle company has defied the odds by prospering.

Maureen and Michelle Myatt are the mother and daughter team behind Candles With Character, a producer of personalised candles from their home base in Ballyalla. Maureen took on the business following a chance discussion with her friends Mary Naughton Foley and Barry Foley, owners of The Candle Emporium.

With the Foleys deciding to expand their model into a wholesale business, the opportunity to acquire the personalised candle offering came about in early 2018. The relationship continues with The Candle Emporium supplying materials to Candles With Character.

“We changed one room in our home to an office-slash-candle making room,” explains Maureen. The pair had no business background but with the guidance of the Foleys and a passion to build the business, Candles With Character has grown a strong local customer base in the last two years. They offer an extremely personalised service to help customers get the perfect end product, with a short turnaround time. All was going to plan until along came 2020’s unique set of challenges.

“Weddings and Christenings would take up most of our time and obviously they’ve been cancelled for a long time,” explains Michelle, who was forced to postpone her own wedding this year.

The pair admit that while it’s been a challenging year, there has been a silver lining. With no shop front as such, the re-set allowed them to focus on building a new website.

“We always had a website but it wasn’t great, there were a number of issues when it came to design and ordering. Then we got Aimee Mc design [run by Amy McMahon] to produce the new website with the LEO Clare trading online grant. She gave us a new website and tutorials on how to add new products and fix any problems that we had, she’s been great.”

The website went live in June and Maureen and Michelle are seeing the benefits already. “Before we had the website we were promoting everything on Facebook so now we find there aren’t half as many calls or messages on Facebook because people are going straight to the website.”

Michelle, who also works as a nurse at Cois Mara in Spanish Point, adds that the ‘support local’ message appears to be hitting home with the public with an increased interest in Christmas products noted, “Christmas candles have been very popular this Christmas, people have thank God been really good this Christmas, a lot who have rang have just said they want to support local.”

With the potential return to normality predicted by some to arrive next year, Candles With Character are expecting an upturn in fortunes and hope their success will burn long into the future.

This article is part of the Click for Clare initiative by The Clare Echo and Local Enterprise Office Clare. To visit Candles with Character click here. To shop online in Clare click here.

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