This month we were lucky enough that James Roberston took the time to answer some of our questions. It's the busiest time of year for candle makers so we really appreciated him taking the time!
Isle Of Skye Candle Company is yet another shining example of handmade candles being produced in Scotland and sold all over the world.
They have grown very well over the past 12 years, opening up 5 stores in Scotland. So we caught up with James to get his take on the growth and what he sees in the future.
Q1. For everyone that’s going to read this, could you give a short introduction to who you are?
I am James Robertson and I am the founder of Isle of Skye Candle Company.
I started the company 12 years ago whilst working for a local soap company and noticed a gap in the market. My main hobbies are snowboarding and wakeboarding, to name but a few!
Q2. So, according to Wikipedia the population of Isle of Skye is 10,008 people. Have you hit local celebrity level yet?
I wouldn’t say local celebrity, but the company is pretty established on the island! We are quite well represented in Scotland, and I was voted 94th in the Herald’s recent top 100 cool list (but I wont start using it until I at least reach the top 10!) so I guess the story is getting out there! Worldwide we are still a drop in the ocean, but are exporting more and more each year.
Q3. You’ve been going coming up to 13 years now, what’s your favourite memory of your journey so far?
Opening our first stores in Skye and then Edinburgh have been hard to top so far, but hopefully, they will be topped one day soon!
Q4. What do you think was the most important part of your journey has been so far?
There has been so many vital moments, getting the workshop and shop on Skye to build a real base from was pretty important, then getting into Whole Foods Market UK gave us great revenue to build on – there have been quite a lot of landmarks though to choose from.
Q5. How Do You Plan on growing Isle Of Skye Candles In The Coming Years?
More products is always useful, we would have to be careful where we would open another shop as we already have 5 in Scotland – so online and abroad would be the obvious two places to really grow.
Q6. What’s the biggest risk you’ve took so far? Did it pay off?
Opening each shop is a massive risk, you have to be really confident they are going to work as the overheads can be massive and the leases long!
Q7. Do you see the industry changing at all in the next couple of years?
Things seem to be moving more and more online over the last few years, but the fact that we have been able to hold our own on 4 city high streets in Scotland shows that there is still great potential in old fashioned bricks and mortar! In terms of the fragrance and candle industry, it just seems to keep on growing!
Q8. For anyone just starting out, or making candles part time, that would love to have the success you have built, do you have any advice for them? Or for anyone looking to get started in the candle industry?
No – we don’t want any more competition – the market is too saturated 😉
Q9. Did you have an “a-ha” moments?
When I realised nobody was doing candles on Skye, and very were in Scotland at the time, that was quite a lightbulb moment!
Q10. What’s the process behind making a new scent?
I couldn’t give away my trade secrets 😉 My nose decides a lot for me, it hasn’t really let us down yet!
Q11. Do you have a personal favourite scent?
It changes with every creation!
Q12. With Christmas coming up, do you guys go into overdrive making candles? How do you prepare?
Yes – you can never fully prepare as we do such a disproportionately high amount of our business in the final quarter of the year! It can be manic, tiring, with a lot of arguing but we get through it every year and the bank balance is always much healthier in January which helps with the recovery!
Q13. If you had to pick one Isle of Skye product to give as a gift to someone, what would you chose and why?
A winter warmer 3 wick at Christmas is hard to top – seeing how happy it makes a lot of people at a special time of year is very rewarding and hard to replicate 😊
A massive thanks again to James for taking the time to answer our questions!