Marketing consultant by day, candlemaker by night, this month we're talking to the founder of The Yellow Caramelo, a homegrown brand creating eco-friendly and cruelty-free clean-burning candles.
1. Can you tell us more about yourself and your craft?
Hi, I’m Clara. I’m originally from Spain, but I've been based in beautiful Richmond for almost three years. I spend half of my time running a Creative Studio with my husband and the other half making clean-burning candles from our tiny kitchen.
2. How did you get started?
I have always been a little obsessed with candles. When I was 9 years old, my friend got given a candle-making set for her birthday and, under strict supervision from her mum, we made a bright yellow pyramid candle. Even though the result ended up looking a little hideous, I found the entire process magical. It gave me a real sense of satisfaction to have created something decorative but also functional.
As I got older, burning candles became synonymous with self-care. The ritual behind it would help me instantly unwind. However, when I started to look into what went into a candle, I became slightly disenchanted with the process.
The negative impact of paraffin wax on both our health and the planet, coupled with the long and dubious list of ingredients used in synthetic fragrances, made me feel less inclined to burn them regularly.
Around 8 years ago, I started blending natural waxes and essential oils to create candles that would burn slower and cleaner than paraffin wax. I soon began to gift my candles to friends and family - much to their delight, they assure me! - which gave me the confidence to start selling them on Etsy, small shops and local markets.
3. Where do you find your inspiration?
Simplicity inspires me. For me, the best things are usually the most uncomplicated. When we put too much on our backs, we quickly become overwhelmed and anxious, unable to appreciate the things that really matter.
When I find myself spinning out of control, I always ask myself, ‘What is the bare minimum? What can I do without? What do I actually need to do to achieve the result I want?’
I follow this same approach with my candles. From the ingredients I use to the packaging they come in, everything has a true purpose. Otherwise, it’s out!
4. What is the biggest challenge you face as a maker/ business owner?
Finding enough time and energy to accomplish what I need to do. I bet that resonates with many of our makers!
5. What is your favourite thing about being a creative business owner?
Doing it my way! It’s easy to compare yourself to other people - especially whilst scrolling through social media in the small hours. As much as I believe in learning from others and finding inspiration in their success stories, I’m done with beating myself up for not having everything worked out yet. No, I don’t have a 5-year plan for my business - but I find that super exciting!
6. What does a typical day look like for you?
We live near Richmond Park, so every morning starts with a quick lap around it. I run a Creative Studio with my husband, so my 9-to-5 is mostly spent in front of a computer, working on what we like to call Projects with Purpose - working to help charities communicate their message digitally.
I do most of my candle-making in the evenings and weekends. I love that I can switch from a predominantly sedentary role to a very hands-on task like this. It keeps me sane!
7. How do you stay motivated? Any advice for your fellow makers?
I find planning my days out helps me immensely. Every Monday, I write a master to-do list that I then split out into a smaller daily to-do list with allocated time-slots. This helps me identify what is actually achievable in a single day and what is overkill.
8. What are your goals for 2021?
I’d love to have my candles stocked in a couple more shops. And I am determined to launch my website this Christmas. I’ve been putting that off for months!
9. How can we find you and your products online?
10. How are you finding being part of Makers United? How is it helping your business?
I’m fortunate to be part of Makers United as both a maker and a team member, so I get to be in the thick of all the amazing things that happen in the crafting community.
In a short year, I’ve met some wonderful people and had the opportunity to stock my product in a few local shops thanks to the air-time it’s provided me already.