1st Blog of the Series!
I moved back to Bristol last week and once again fell in love with the whole atmosphere. Whilst I was away, I realised how much I missed some local businesses and jazzy independent stores that I love popping into and having a nose around. The thing about small businesses is that they create meaningful and personal products that they are actually passionate about – sometimes the things that independent shops make are totally unique and it’s something that maybe we dont think about often!
Supporting small and local businesses is largely free – you can simply just share a post, like a picture and (the easiest part), buy and enjoy their products! By supporting local businesses and smaller start ups, we help make their goals realities.
So, I made the decision to make a blog series, titled ‘Loving Local and Supporting Small’. It will focus on local and small businesses, and I will discuss with them their plans and future goals. I want to give exposure to student start ups and jazzy online sellers who deserve to have a spotlight shone down on them! I hope you enjoy these mini interviews. If you know anyone who deserves to have the spotlight on them, a small business who shares amazing products and messages, get in contact with me via my Instagram @a_little_insight or go to my ‘Contact Me’ tab, so I can feature them in the next edition! If you are one of these small businesses – don’t be shy! Let me know if you want to be featured.
Please do check out all of the people and places listed, full details will be at the end of each blog!
And without further ado, read on for some fantastic creative people talking all things motivation, business and passion!
Milkman.Store is an independent homewares and fragrance company based in Bristol and was started up by a Uwe Bristol Alumni. As a current student, I really wanted to reach out, buy one of their products and see how they have progressed from uni to being a small business in the city!
Milkman have fragrant candles and incence, a collection that is constantly being developed and grown. I bought a 001 Lis d’Ambre candle myself to see the amazing quality, and hands down, it is gorgeous! I absolutely love it and this makes me want to share their business even more, because their craft is so personal and beautifully made with care. I admire the fact that with hard work, Milkman have made their dream a reality and it is growing in the right direction! So, let’s see what Benjy Johnstone (Head Candle Sniffer as he calls himself) said about Milkman and their story.
I’ve read your story on your website about how the idea came to you one night at 3am! It seems like your idea sprouted from your underlying interests and one day just grew into a solid idea – and now you have made this blossom into a reality!
Yeah, I essentially think it was a combination of being interested in design and creation and setting myself a challenge that got us to where we are today. I had always envisioned having space to develop my own ideas and be my own boss, I just didn’t quite imagine it would start from a sweaty night on Stokes Croft!
Do you think following your ideas and passions is important?
I think it is really important. One of the key things I have learnt and continue to learn is that to make a business work, you need to be 100% behind the idea, because if you can’t back your own business how can you expect others to?
What would you say to young entrepreneurs like you about making their ideas and plans a reality in the real world?
Get started and be patient. Just take the first step and let the business grow as you do. We made our first ever candle from the comfort of home and sold it to a close friend, and next weekend we’re heading to London for meetings with people we would have only ever dreamed of working with. My partner always tells me that patience is key and as hard as that can be to remember when your brain is in overdrive pumping out all sorts of plans and projects – it’s true. Sometimes we forget that success takes time, hard work and you often see people give up when they don’t see results straight away. We started Milkman.Store over a year ago and we are still learning, growing and adapting every day.
You talk about always being intrigued with interior design and how objects in someone’s home can reflect who they are. How does your product and brand reflect you?
I think that our brand is currently going through a bit of a transition and that in itself is reflective of who we are. We are growing up and the brand is growing up with us. We had always aimed for it to tell a bit of a story and that is exactly what is happening; we’re evolving and growing as individuals and taking the brand on that journey too. We want to be transparent with our growth and our brand will constantly be fine-tuned as we meet new creative people and work alongside independents across the UK. We want to be more than just another homewares company and instead become a collaborative space for creatives to come together and create together, which I think is the biggest representation of who we are.
Describe your brand in three words.
Collaborative, fluid and honest.
Which is your favourite product that you have released so far and why?
I think it would have to be our 001 Lis d’Ambre candle. It is our original product that took many, many hours of late night brainstorming and decision making and it set the bar for us in terms of the work that needs to go into a product. We are currently working on some new products that we are so excited for and think our customers will love too.
Which part of the process making and developing your brand was your favourite and why?
That is really impossible to answer because each step is so different and I don’t think either of us quite realised the range of skills we would apply to this business. We have been everything from graphic designers to photographers to accountants to copywriters to delivery drivers to packers and the list goes on. Something valuable is learnt from each step and it means we know the business inside out as we have been so involved in the complete process.
Which part of your start-up was the most challenging? Did you learn from it – if so how?
I think the hardest part would be those moments of self-doubt. As mentioned before patience is key and I have worked hard to acquire that mentality over the last year because it certainly doesn’t come naturally to me. In those early days when you find you’re making lots of decisions and facing set-backs you need to persevere and surround yourself with people who understand and support what you’re trying to achieve to help keep you motivated.
What is the most rewarding thing about growing your own business?
On the flip side to my above answer, I think that having that perseverance and patience really pays off when things come together. We have put a lot of work into getting to where we are today and hearing positive feedback or seeing a project come together really makes it worthwhile. We started completely from scratch and that makes the small accomplishments even more rewarding.
What is Milkman’s next goal? Do you have any new products coming out soon?
We are working on some extremely exciting things at the moment and working with some really amazing people. We can’t say too much yet but keep an eye on our pages over the coming months to see what we’re working on… @milkman.store.
Loving local shops and supporting small businesses really isn’t that hard, plus with such gorgeous products, like the ones highlighted in this blog, how can you say no? Seeing businesses grow is beautiful, especially for the people behind the products who work so hard at developing and creating them! Be sure to give these small businesses a follow and check out their websites!
Look out for another ‘Loving Local and Supporting Small’ blog next time!