A Rotherham entrepreneur who was made redundant during the pandemic is on track to expand his luxury home fragrance business just six months after its launch.
Tom Justice started producing handmade bespoke candles as gifts for friends and family as a money saving exercise while working to make ends meet at a part time job.
However, when news of his products started to spread and official orders started to pour in the 24-year-old quit his job and officially set up the Just Wicks online shop in order to keep up with demand. His Facebook page already boasts almost 3k followers.
Selling everything from wax melts & burners, candles, decorative candles, reed diffusers, home cologne, hand & body wash and bath bombs, to shower steamers, car air fresheners, carpet freshener and electric burners, the business has gone from strength to strength since its launch in April this year.
When restrictions lifted over the summer the ambitious entrepreneur also secured a Kickstart grant from UKSE – a business that invests in steel areas across the UK – which allowed him to invest in additional products and display equipment so that he could also attend artisan markets across the region.
Now, in order to keep up with a surge in sales to coincide with the countdown to Christmas, Tom says he is on the lookout for a warehouse in order to store more stock and facilitate the expansion of the business.
He said: “It has truly been a whirlwind over the last 6 months.
“What started as a hobby to keep myself occupied and to save a few pennies during the pandemic has turned into a rather demanding business, with sales rocketing from just a couple hundred pounds a month to thousands.
“I am incredibly grateful to my friends and family who waxed lyrical about my products and gave me the confidence to take the next steps, and to UKSE for the Kickstart grant which allowed me to scale up and take advantage of the sales opportunities at the artisan markets.”
Despite a growing national online client base, Tom says his diary is currently full of events local to his South Yorkshire base having had pop-up stalls at Meadowhall Shopping Centre, Elsecar Heritage Centre and St Margaret’s Parish Church in Swinton over the past month alone.
He added: “We’ve been overwhelmed with the support that we have received from our customers both online and at the various events that we have attended.
“It has got to a point now where we really need to expand in order to keep up with the demand and so we are on the lookout for a warehouse to store more products. At the moment we are operating solely from home and it’s not really sustainable.
“Currently I have some help from my partner, but I expect we will need to recruit in the near future if we are going to be able to deal with the influx of orders.”
Steve Lyon, Regional Executive at UKSE commented: “Just Wicks is another great example of the sort of entrepreneurial spirit that we have here in South Yorkshire, and the success of the business today is a real testament to Tom’s drive and perseverance.
“As we enter the Christmas period, I have no doubt that he will continue to build on his success and we wish him all the best for the future – especially as he looks to expand with larger businesses premises and new team members.”
Established in 1975, UKSE helps businesses in steel areas with investments, loans and premises. The organisation supplies equity finance of up to £1m to existing companies which are growing, particularly those creating jobs.