The Candle Shack has successfully operated since 1999. When our family was very young, we bought a pre-existing business called ‘The Waxhouse’ from our friends, so we could spend time with our children and each other as they grew. It has provided us with an enviable lifestyle, rich in the things that matter – relationships, time, space, nature – and the opportunity be intimately involved with our family and community.
When by chance, we met the owners of The Waxhouse in the mid-1990’s, little did we know where it would lead. When they retired to their holiday home on the South Coast NSW, retaining The Waxhouse as both a wholesale and retail business, they needed some part-time help in the candle workshop. They sold wholesale all over country NSW, had their own store in Newtown, and a long-held stall at Paddy’s markets.
As close neighbours & friends by now, I began to work for them on a small part-time basis whilst on maternity leave with our first daughter in 1994.
I became so enamoured of the candles that my mother and I began to attend the small markets around Nowra and Ulladulla. This met with varying success until we got a site at the Berry Markets. The Candle Shack was a popular attendee of the Berry markets for 11 years until 2005. By this time we had 3 children. In 2000, we had acquired our current property, and eventually built a new workshop & gallery.This way we were able to attract customers to us, rather than go to them. Our aim was to increase our retail income without having to attend more markets where we were so reliant on good weather and good crowds. We receive many wonderful comments and have developed a loyal following among both locals and tourists.
Many regular holiday visitors to the Shoalhaven save up their candle shopping to stock up with us.
We were able to expand to providing candle making and decorating demonstrations and refreshments to tourist buses, schools, disability, aged and other interest groups. These are always met with awe and laughter due to Paul’s entertaining story-telling and a feeling that ‘magic’ is being watched. As with individual customers, these groups come back year after year.
It has been often been hard work. The Candle Shack income fluctuates from winter to summer as tourists come and go. As our children have almost all finished High School, we both now work outside of the Candle Shack during the week.
The creative nature of our candle-making brought something to our lives we had been missing. The day to day satisfaction of seeing what our efforts had achieved and the overwhelmingly positive feedback from satisfied customers was a unique experience that we continue to appreciate. In many ways, the process of candle-making is therapeutic. There is a routine, it takes its own time and it can’t be hurried – so the rush and pressure of the usual working life dissipates. This actually took some getting used to!
The Candle Shack has allowed us to attend school plays, assemblies, concerts, parent/ teacher meetings, fundraising. We have been able to contribute to the local & regional soccer associations. We could be there for our kids, and many of their friends. We could care for ourselves if we were ill, without having the additional concern about getting back to work as soon as possible, or justifying our situation to anyone.
We hope our website will provide more stable business revenue, and once again allow us to have choices into our retirement that are not limited to full-time external employment. Admittedly, we have been lifestyle ‘spoilt’ and would obviously love to regain and retain that blessing.