Updated: Aug 20
From nursing to soy wax candles
Welcome to my blog, lots of you reading this will already know me, some of you won't - and that's ok :) My name is Lesley Andrews and I am the face behind the brand.
Nurse, now candle maker or ‘Chandler’ if you prefer :)
Here I’m going to answer some of your questions that you've asked me about how I created and started Orchard.
How did Orchard Start?
Orchard Candle Co was founded by me, making soy wax candles as an alternative to buying paraffin counterparts. It was born out of very real concerns surrounding the impact paraffin candles had on the environment and on my family's health.
I was gifted a very well known and very expensive candle. Following every burn, I was left with a black mark on the walls — so began my extensive research, paraffin vs soy wax, and I was horrified!! (but that's for another blog post)
This kick started my journey to making homemade candles from soy wax.
When did you create a brand?
Following my research, I began just making candles for my own use, in vessels I picked up in charity shops.
By Christmas 2016 I was making them as gifts for family and friends and by Christmas 2017 I dared to sell my wares at my son's School Christmas fair, that fair was really the catapult of my journey,
I was astounded at how many people loved them and actually bought them.
In 2018 I made the bold decision to launch my own website and brand my candles, it was initially called 'Orchard Cheshire' (that's where we lived) and I launched in March 2018. It was a tough couple of years as I ran this alongside my full time job in the NHS, but it grew faster than I could ever have imagined and stockists jumped onboard that have since proudly stocked my candles.
Early 2020 saw a rebrand to 'Orchard Candle Co' bizarrely the ‘Cheshire’ restricted its sales,
and I had my most successful year despite covid19.
In April 2021, after 12 months of the pandemic, I eventually left the NHS fulltime and following a move to live by the sea, I opened my very own bricks and mortar shop in St Annes on Sea just as the 2nd lockdown came :)
Have you always been creative?
Probably yes, as with most nurses (dreadful pay) and being a single mum, I always found ways to make and create. From sewing soft furnishings to trawling junk shops for furniture to paint, I've always loved to make, change and recycle.
When I was painting furniture, I was invited (via Twitter) to appear on C4 TV in a programme named 'French Collection' I didn't win, but had the best time, being flown to Nice, France, to shop in the antique markets and then a trip to York to sell my upcycled wares to the traders.
It was a very exhausting but fun experience.
What kind of nurse were you?
I was a nurse for 38 years, I started at the age of 16 as a cadet nurse, and for 20 of those 38 years, I was an ICU nurse.
Intensive Care Nursing is as it says in the title, intensive, highly skilled and made up of the tightest teams you can ever imagine working with who always have your back.
I was a nurse who can keep you alive on a ventilator whilst you're in a medically induced coma, analyse your blood gasses and tune your ventilation accordingly Manage your kidneys on a hemofilter and make autonomous decisions about the need to off load your system of fluid.
A nurse who can manage your heart on quadruple strength inotropes and interpret your ECG for life threatening changes. A nurse trained in Advanced Life Support and cardioversion (shocking your heart back to a normal rhythm) and part of a team that will continue CPR on someone's chest for as long as is appropriate whilst trying to save your life. All combined with your activities of daily living care and support for your traumatised relatives and friends.
I'm not going to lie; it took me a while to come to terms with leaving, to leave my work family, to work alone and to be fully responsible for myself and my earning potential.
Was it hard to leave nursing to do this full time?
I think it was just time – the right time for me to go.
At the end of the first year of the Pandemic, I’d had enough.
It was also about creating a life free from the constraints of working in public service.
Freedom from 36 years of weekend shifts, night shifts, Christmas Day shifts, being told I can't attend your party because I have to work.
Freedom to make my own choices about how and when I work.
Freedom to earn as much money as I possibly can because I deserve it, without someone else telling me my worth and undervaluing me.
How's it going so far?
If I could have chosen to have started a small business at the most difficult time in our modern history, I got it spot on :) Working for yourself is not without risk, no sick pay, no guaranteed salary every month, no-one to hand over the shift to and walk away.
There's So much to learn every day about your new way of working, all on the back of an economic crisis!.
But, I love it. I love the creativity of my day to day work, the time to plan new ideas, meeting people in the shop and the freedom to plan my own life.
The shop recently celebrated its 1st birthday and despite everything, I still love it and can't quite believe it's mine.
Any advice for people just starting out?
These are tough times just now for small businesses, so join forces, reach out to other independents, engage in any support you can, and don't be afraid to say you don't know or to ask for help. Learn from people who do what you do, but do it better.
Always be courageous and strong, and be fearless, what's the worst that can happen.
Build up your weaknesses until they become your strong points and learn from mistakes, because you will make them.
If you feel lost, despondent, hesitant or disappointed, return to yourself, to who you are.
Return to your product and remember how great it actually is and how far you've come, take a break and ALWAYS start tomorrow as a new day.
"Success is not final, failure is not fatal, it is the courage to continue that counts"
WINSTON. S. CHURCHILL