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Meet Lucy Krelle - Zelwood Soy Candles

Hi Lucy, please tell us about your stall.

We are all looking for ways to minimise our environmental footprint and Zelwood Soy Candles makes it easy to reinvigorate your home’s scent whilst being eco-friendly.

As an avid antique and vintage ware collector for over 30 years, along with my passion to recycle and avoid environmental waste, I commenced my candle making as a hobby whilst staying at our farm "Zelwood" in the Wimmera in country Victoria.

Zelwood Soy Candles are made from soy wax which is environmentally friendly, using high quality fragrances and high-end products. These treasures make beautiful sustainable and environmentally friendly up-cycled gifts. The majority of my candle containers are purchased at antique and vintage shops, estate sales, second hand shops and some sourced from my private collection.

After your candle has finished (the wax remnants wash out very easily with warm water and soap), the candle container can be repurposed and put to good use in your home or add a lovely piece of china, crystal or glassware to your own collection. What a great way to up-cycle treasures from the past and our planet will love you for it.

P.S. The candles also smell fabulous even when they aren’t burning.

How did you begin your business, and why?

My love of collectibles and candles was a great way to combine two of my passions so hence the beginning of Zelwood Soy Candles.

The collecting bug started when I was a young girl when my grandmother let me choose my very first trio from her collection. That started the bug and it hasn't stopped since.

I've always said to myself over the years, I am going to burn more candles and certainly do now have no excuse.

The candles are made up at our farm in country Victoria and this hobby is something I can combine when doing other things during the day. I would like to continue this hobby in the coming years into retirement as an outlet.

It is wonderful when you sell the candles and I get a real buzz when a sale is achieved.

A lot of my online sales go overseas as they are very collectible unique pieces.

Where and how did you learn to create such pieces and what drives you?

I undertook a candle making course and have also learnt a lot from YouTube and by trial and error. When selecting pieces to buy I am very particular, only picking the best quality items and mainly focussing on well known branded English china.

I look for how the item can be repurposed in home after the candle has been enjoyed, giving it a second life and hopefully inspiring the next generation into loving antiques and collectibles.

Can you elaborate on your creative process? How do you make your items, and what sets you apart from other stalls?

I think that the creative process is in the actual container that the candles are made which speak for themselves.

Most candles these days are made in fairly modern containers which are often disguarded afterwards.

Zelwood Soy Candles can be enjoyed and then the container can be used in the home afterwards, e.g.tea cups for that morning cuppa, beautiful jugs to be used for gravy or milk, small bowls that can be used for dips, chocolates, nuts etc.

I also do refills for a lot of my friends once the candles are finished too so I get to see some of my beautiful treasurers again.

These days there is just too much waste in the world, that is something that is a bug bear for me. I like to be able to reuse and not discard things. This is something I have learnt from spending a lot of time in the bush. We have our very own "Bunnnings" on the farm, an area where items discarded years ago are often picked up and used again on the farm.

What do you love most about being a stallholder at CMA?

The face to face markets are so much fun.

Along with being able to display my wares, I meet so many wonderful people on the day.

It is a fantastic day out mixing with other market goers and other stall holders. It is nice to see my candles go to others who enjoy them or are being bought for a special gift for a loved one. I usually bring along a relative or friend to help me out on the day at the stall and its a great catch up too.

I am most appreciative that Craft Markets Australia pivoted last year to an online platform. Zelwood Soy Candles took up the opportunity straight away to collaborate in this wonderful initiative to support CMA and was most grateful to have the opportunity to expand the brand's presence.

Visit the CMA Virtual Market and support our stallholders!

Describe your experience of being a small business owner in Australia.

I think the business will take time to grow. Setting up just before COVID-19 emerged has meant that a lot of the face to face markets have been cancelled.

I have found it necessary to create an online presence to reach buyers.

This has meant that I have had to teach myself about social media @krellel2019, taking photos of my products for online sales, making videos about my products, learning to market my products on social media platforms and on my Etsy page etc. This has been challenging but I've learnt a few new skills along the way and am pretty proud of what has been achieved.

What are the challenges and rewards of being your own boss?

I combine my candle making with a part time job and am able to spend time doing what I love on my days off.

I started an Etsy shop in 2019 and am thrilled to having nearly achieved 100 online sales along with receiving some fabulous reviews from buyers.

You do need to dedicate quite a bit of time to a 'side hustle' but it is fun if you love what you are doing.

I would say about a third of my online sales go overseas and I get a real buzz knowing that I am now an "international seller".

Selling candles face to face at markets is also so much fun and I really look forward to my market days.

Describe your perfect weekend!

A sleep in with a nice coffee in bed to start the day. A lovely brunch or lunch out on a sunny day, throwing in a market of course to pick up an item or two. A lovely home cooked dinner by the fire and a good movie on the couch at home (with my candles burning of course).

Next day a nice drive in the countryside, appreciating all the good things that our wonderful country has to offer.

Supporting local businesses is also something I like to do given the opportunity and spending a bit of money in any towns we visit is something really like to do.

What do you see for the future for you, and your business?

Hopefully the business will continue to grow. I think the online presence is essential. When COVID settles down, it will be wonderful to participate in face to face markets again.

The online presence also assists with those who have bought from the store at markets and then wish to buy again in the future. I found this early on when doing markets that people were asking if I had a website, I didn't so had to do something about it and get online.

What do you love about Melbourne and Victoria?

It has everything, a great city, beautiful beaches, great bush, and snow fields. Wonderful food and wine, lots of things to see and do. Great shopping, lots of markets. A multicultural environment, great people which is shown by how the majority are cooperating to assist us getting through our current pandemic. My husband and I have travelled extensively around Australia which has been thoroughly enjoyed and it has also given us insight into how wonderful our home state is.

What other stalls are you looking forward to checking out at our next CMA market day?

Soap stalls, baby gift stalls, clothing stalls, plants - too many to list!

What advice would you give to someone interested in setting up their own small business or stall?

Do it - its fun.

I thought about it for quite a long time, was probably a bit scared to give it a go.

You don't have to get everything perfect at the start, it is a process and you will learn as you go.

Ask advice from others who may be experienced in this field. I had my beautiful niece help me set up my Etsy shop and she has also done some graphic design for me in the way of business cards, banners for my stall etc.

It will take time, so be prepared to give your small business the energy it needs. There is a lot of information online to assist you, YouTube, webinars etc. Ask lots of questions, give it a go.

I also went to markets and spoke to other stallholders to get their advice on different things and picked up some great tips along the way, eg using Square as a payment system as a lot of customers wished to pay by credit card.

How did you adapt and overcome the challenges of the past year?

I increased my online presence. Have run sales from time to time and do well here as things are tough for a lot of people at the moment and finances are tight.

I keep plugging away even though sometimes sales are slow.

A lot of my shops I buy my treasurers from have been closed because of COVID. I did have quite a large amount of stock which has been great but I am missing getting out there to buy those special pieces.


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