Charlotte’s Boutique Horsforth: Leeds mother opens first candle shop after business boom during lockdown
Charlotte Russell, 36, was studying a degree in English Literature while caring for her two young boys before the pandemic.
In September 2019, she started making candles by hand as a hobby, wanting to replicate high-end brands at a fraction of the price.
She sold a few candles to the mothers of her children’s school, before the first confinement put an end to the adventure.
But after dozens of requests on her Facebook page, in June 2020 she started creating wax melts — and was soon inundated with orders.
“It was crazy; people loved melted wax. I take pride in making everything really solid and pretty, presenting it nicely with an even mark that fits into a look.
“My dining room was taken over, my children were eating on my lap.”
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Although she started her business “completely by accident”, Charlotte is now taking calculated steps to establish the brand as one of the largest candle and wax melt retailers in the country.
She opened her first Charlotte’s Boutique in Horsforth last month, giving her the chance to connect with her customers in person for the first time.
“It was the next logical step,” added Charlotte.
“I pride myself on taking a good photo, which is so important when it’s internet-based, but I also wanted people to be able to feel the products, to know they’re as good as they look.
“The service is very professional but it’s also fun.
“I deliberately designed the shop to be welcoming, bright and pink. And it smells good, all the different fragrances intertwine.
“In the future, I want it to be like a chocolatier – where you can see me making melted wax in the window, so it’s immersive and people can see I’m making them by hand.”
Although she now has her own boutique, Charlotte’s online store is busier than ever – with orders soaring for her new “fully loaded” wax melts decorated with seashells, mermaid tales and other original patterns.
She launched a TikTok page last month and has already had a viral post that has over 250,000 views and counting.
It’s a big task for a one-man business and Charlotte still makes all of her products by hand from her kitchen table.
“It’s so important to me that the products we make are sustainable,” Charlotte said.
“We are in a huge crisis with plastics and as a small business, or any business, we should be paying more money for cruelty-free products.”
Charlotte hopes to move into a larger unit in the future, as well as employ a team of staff, before rolling out her boutiques across the country.
“When I was a writer, I used to submit things and get immediately rejected,” she added.
“I love that people love my products. I love that once they’ve been there and tried them once, they come back – and tell their friends about them.
“It’s humbling to know that people are so in love with them and want to support local people.”