It was Angelique van der Linde’s nose that led her into business eight months ago. The self-confessed “scent lover” liked nothing more than filling her home with fragrant candles but sourcing top quality ones was proving tricky.
“You’d often see nice candles in little shops but you’d just happen to stumble across them. There wasn’t a place where you can find them all together,” said Angelique. Her frustration sparked an idea and along with long-time friends and fellow South Africans Theoda Solms Iles and Marike Fichardt, she decided to try and fill the gap in the market and tap into the UK’s £90m scented candle industry.
You’d often see nice candles in little shops but you’d just happen to stumble across them. There wasn’t a place where you can find them all together
Their website Kandl was launched in May this year and sells candles priced between £6 and £65 and sourced from a range of independent producers. They also offer a monthly subscription service that has the latest candles delivered straight to customer’s door.
Angelique admits developing Kandl from an idea to a fully-fledged business hasn’t been easy. While the trio revelled in designing visuals for the brand, they underestimated the amount of “nitty gritty” business admin that would be needed to get their venture off the ground. With hindsight she recommends that other budding entrepreneurs prioritise the paperwork side of things. “Make sure that you get lots of spreadsheets, don’t put it off… you really need to get down to the details,” she advised.
To manage their increasing workload, the three founders now focus on a specific area of expertise each. “I’m very much a details person – I can grapple with software and spreadsheets,” said Angelique. “Marika’s the big ideas, she’s good at going out and meeting people and networking, and Theoda’s just as creative.”
Most of our candles are handmade with soy, so full of natural good waxes with good credentials
They have also tailored their offering to reflect the growing appetite for soy candles – a cleaner alternative to paraffin wax which can release toxins when burnt. “We did a survey and found that people are very anti-paraffin wax,” says Angelique. “Most of our candles are handmade with soy, so full of natural good waxes with good credentials.” Offering a personal service remains of paramount importance for the team, who ensure somebody is always at the end of the phone to answer customer queries. “I think it’s so important nowadays that you don’t get someone who has a robotic answer, but that you really talk to somebody who knows their stuff,” she said. “I hope as we grow bigger we don’t lose that.”
Rather than rapidly expanding, Angelique is focussed on steadily growing Kandl, with the goal of having a shop on the high street within the next three years. “Like a sweetie shop of amazing candles,” she said. “But once you get to that phase you have to raise capital.” Expansion may be a little way off but in the meantime Angelique is busying herself developing one bold new scent at a time. And if she could have any scent made into a candle? “The fynbos, the indigenous plant of South Africa,” she said. “It’s a bit like heather; a bit sandy, coastal, herby… it’s the most beautiful smell.” Though the smell of success must be sweeter.