This much I know: Jessica Jones
Jessica Jones, founder of luxury candle makers Birch & Brook, shares her experience of launching a dream project
Birch and Brook creates quality candles with fragrances of depth and complexity. Their ingredients are natural and inspiration literary, historical and distinctly English. On the back of huge success in the UK, they’re now stocked in Paris’ premiere perfumery. Not bad for a self-funded company launched just seven months ago.
Having grown up in the countryside, my original inspiration was to tell a story through fragrance and bring a little bit of the countryside into people’s lives. I used to come home from a tiring day in a bustling city and long for the countryside – lighting a candle was my way of relaxing and the scents reminded me of home. I felt there might be an opportunity for people to experience scent in a “deeper” way, and this is what lead me to launch Birch & Brook in December 2013.
I felt there was an opportunity to launch a candle brand with emphasis on good design, quality and alluring fragrances. I also wanted a brand that appealed to both men and women and some of our best success has come from selling to high-end men’s boutiques.
I feel it’s important to take time and build relationships
I spent close to 12 months researching our initial three fragrances, together with perfecting the design, before I felt happy with the product. The final element that was important to me was to burn amazing quality fragrances in a natural wax, as opposed to paraffin.
I’ve sought advice from friends, family and specialists in the luxury goods sector. Key people who’ve helped me include Lucy Vaughn-Griffith, MD of Activate PR, and my business mentor David Duncan-Smith, previously CEO of Prada Group UK and Louis Vuitton UK.
It was important to get the product into the right retailers. Having lived in London for 14 years and being passionate about interior design and fashion, I felt I had a strong knowledge of the leading boutiques that tend to set the pace. I chose boutiques that I thought would complement the ethos of Birch & Brook – shops that are either fashion/design-led or specialise in perfumery. I feel it’s important to take time and build relationships, so I set up meetings directly with the owners or buyers.
I always knew it would be a challenge starting my own business but I’ve still been surprised by just how much hard work it’s taken. It’s been all the more challenging having given birth to my first child three months after launching the business. There have been many sleepless nights, needless to say! There have understandably been highs and lows, but one of the most important things I’ve learnt so far is to trust my instincts with regard to product development – I’ve stopped trying to think about what people may or may not like. It’s about creating a very personal range of products that mean a lot to me, and this seems to resonate with others.
The most important things I’ve learnt so far is to trust my instincts with regard to product development
The level of interest in Birch & Brook has been really amazing – being approached by a store such as Nose in Paris has been a highlight. This a concept store founded by some of the most famous noses in the perfume industry, so for them to believe in my fragrances has been very gratifying.
The future looks very exciting. I’m taking it one step at a time for the moment, making sure we can expand our core range and deliver an amazing experience every time a customer buys one of our products. The plan is to grow our footprint in the UK, then seek investment and take Birch & Brook to wider international markets. My dream is to create an international homeware brand, which sources and promotes well-crafted and designed products from the UK with a flagship store in London!