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Archive for October, 2016

 

diwali_festival

For many years we had a Nepali candlemaker at Queen B and as we had lunch together every day I got to know a lot about Nepalese culture… with one Hindu and one Buddhist parent, I got to know a lot of those too and the various celebrations and festivals.  Every October I’d take Tilly and some of his friends out for dinner to celebrate Diwali… the Hindu Festival of Light.  If you’re looking for an alternative to the Halloween mania that seems to be going on, the celebration of Diwali is beautiful… let me share a little.

Diwali has a strong spiritual significance… of light over darkness (got to love that), good conquering evil, knowledge over ignorance and hope over despair. Really I could stop there.  Just read that bit again.  We should celebrate Diwali daily and year round.

The celebrations are marked with millions of lights shining from housetops, outside doors and windows, around temples and other buildings in the communities and countries where the festival is observed. Prior to Diwali night people clean, renovate and decorate their houses and offices. On the night of Diwali, they dress in their best clothes, light candles and lamps everywhere and participate in prayers – typically to the goddess of ‘happiness and good fortune’.

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Realistically, it doesn’t really matter what you believe or which festivals you observe, these types of events are about the rituals that are attached to them, the reflecting that we do as part of these rituals and the coming together as a community.  As someone who has struggled with anxiety on and off for many years, I’m a big fan of ritual… be that an end of day ritual (for me it is obviously about lighting candles!), a clean out or clean up (with beeswax candles being a natural ioniser, I light candles for that too!!!), a weekend ritual, your morning coffee/tea, writing, reading, having a bath or anything that helps you focus more on what is good in your life.

[I’m LOL’ing because I literally use candles on every one of those occasions and I think that perhaps I need to broaden my horizons a little!]

If you’re a little perplexed by the pumpkins and ghoulish costumes in every shop window, can I suggest that perhaps you may like to consider celebrating Dewali (daily) as an alternative? … remember, light over darkness, good conquering evil, knowledge over ignorance and hope over despair.

Happy Diwali Queen B community,

With love from Cate, the rest of the Queen B team and our former candlemaker, Tilak  xx

 

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We have Australian Made candle holders including the traditional ‘Dunny Light’, ‘Wee Willie Winkie’, and metal candle holders, making a quintessential gift and the ideal accompaniment for your rituals and celebrations. Shop online HERE . 

 

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business

Photo courtesy of Chalk On Stone

I’m often asked by customers who are also small business owners for advice on running a small business.  With a big business background I guess I’ve brought a lot of those lessons and learnings with me into Queen B.  Whether you’re running a small business, you’re running a big business or you’re a small cog in a big business, what I’ve learned is universally applicable.

First amongst those things is that in order to survive, you need to stand for something (but always keep your mind open to evolving).  Over the years we’ve had literally hundreds of retailers selling Queen B candles and over the years I’ve seen many of them fail.  If I had to pick a trend or lesson, it is that the businesses that are very clear on what they stand for are the ones that are still standing (and growing and thriving).

One of our most successful retailers is a shop in Carlton (Melbourne) called Make Designed Objects.  Pat, who owns Make, is absolutely clear on stocking “the best designed product from around the world”.  Over the years we’ve seen the size of his store double, he’s set up stores for the National Gallery of Victoria and the Powerhouse Museum and his sales of Queen B candles have increased 7 fold since he first stocked our candles.  Anyone looking for a gift for someone who is hard to buy for or someone who has a design aesthetic knows exactly where to go.  We’re all busier than ever so we’ll go where our needs are most likely to be met.

Another success story is our retailer Biome.  In the eight or so years that Biome has stocked Queen B we’ve seen them grow from one store to four.  Again, they are absolutely clear on what they stand for.  When you go into a Biome store, you’re going to find a product that is organic, natural, recycled or fair trade.

At one stage, the business of the metal turner who makes our metal candleholders was on its last legs because all of the big mining and manufacturing companies thought they’d save a lot of money having their bits made in China.  He wasn’t prepared to compromise on the metals that he used and so he couldn’t compete on price, so he went back to TAFE and did night school.  But his previous clients soon learned that the cheaper bits failed, costing them more than they’d saved and now our metal turning friend is so busy we’re having to book our jobs in weeks in advance.

The story is the same for one of the local printing companies we use, for the foundry we use and even for us.  We’re all crystal clear on what we stand for and that makes us a known quantity.

The one caveat that I’d add is that whilst it is important not to compromise, it is essential to evolve.  I always thought our two most compelling features were that we were non-toxic to burn and Australian made but it was conversations with Make and Dinosaur Designs that made me realise that we’re also a design company and that is just as important.

More recently I had to look at our values as it related to packaging.  I had always been absolutely committed to packaging Queen B in beautiful, environmentally responsible packaging.  I wouldn’t do elaborate, tree felling packaging that was going to go in the bin as soon as the product was removed.  That precluded me from seeing the opportunity of Black Label for well over a decade.  When I started thinking about the Black Label range, I realised that I could still be absolutely committed to beautiful, environmentally responsible packaging by making the packaging so rigid that it would have many lifetimes once the candle was removed.  Sure, it means we have 12 cubic metres of Black Label packaging to house at the moment, but it allowed us to evolve.

The real ‘juice’ in any idea comes from the conversation.  I’d love you to add to the discussion.  What do you think?  What other brands or businesses have you come across who are absolutely clear on what they stand for and how does that make life easier for you in your decision making or in your commitment to their product?

Cate xx

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At Queen B we strive to create beautiful and stylish things that nourish the human spirit and nurture our environment. We would love you to join our community. You can do that by subscribing to our newsletters. We promise we won’t spam you.

You’ll be the first to know about new products, special offers, tips for using the candles and getting the most from them, and that is going on at Queen B’s hive.

Shop Queen B Pure Beeswax Candles HERE

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tosca-get-free-aluminium-candleholder

I received this beautiful email from the winner of our Black Label competition. Thank you so much Storm. x 

Hi Cate

As our 4 year old daughter would say “WOOWZERS!”

Thank you so much, I am thrilled to have won.  I was more than happy to provide reviews, I had forgotten to do so after purchasing so it was a good reminder. 

I was reading a book, set back in 1700 in Holland, when the Dutch were the trading powerhouse of the world.  A scene was set whereby the normal candles in the house were replaced with the good bees wax candles as guests were coming and the house smelt of honey.  I was intrigued, so set about looking for large wide but not supper tall candles to go in our hurricane lanterns.  I googled and found a few sites and upon my research – I am pretty thorough when I decide to look into something, I found your site. I was impressed and read all your points about why bees wax is so good, and loved it was 100% Australian and glad to hear you are working to protect our bees, as I get a little patriotic that we have the cleanest bees in the world. 

So I took the leap of faith and was so impressed.  The box they arrived in was a delight.  My husband was so impressed (candles are not his thing) after what he saw on the bench he read your packaging and was telling the guys whom work for him how great these candles are after we tested the long ones at dinner that night – the girls loved them because who doesn’t love long candles sticks on the dinner table. Still amazed they do not drip!  I shared the card and tiny mini candle that came in the packaging with my friend who was returning to work after her first baby.  She too was impressed.

So thank you again for selecting me to be your winner, I am genuinely thrilled and cannot wait to have my house smelling of honey and bees wax.  Regardless I will still continue to tell people how much we enjoy your candles.

Storm

Shop for Queen B Pure Beeswax Candles HERE

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Beeswax Candles

Vue De Monde

Thinking Globally, Acting Locally

It’s always important when you’re thinking of starting a business to think about whether the world actually needs what you’re thinking of creating!  Just because you think you’ve found your life’s purpose doesn’t necessarily mean that the world needs it!

On the surface of it, the world didn’t need another candle business when I started Queen B fourteen years ago, and yet, when you scratched the surface, it absolutely needed what we had to offer.

At Queen B our vision and our goals are global but we also make a measurable difference by supporting the local community we’re a part of.

  • Globally, the Amazon and the virgin rainforests of Asia needed someone to scream from the rooftops about the clear felling taking place for soy and palm plantations. According to a Greenpeace blog post in May 2016, the amount of land soy occupies in the Amazon region is up 260% (since 2006).
  • Globally, someone needed to take a stand about this massive lie that is marketing soy wax as ‘natural’. The dictionary definition of natural when used as an adjective is existing in or derived from nature; not made or caused by humankind.”  How is it possible to call chemically bleached, heavy metal hydrogenated soya oil, “natural soy wax”?
  • Globally someone needed to shine a light on the plight of bees and the destruction being wreaked upon them by ‘big business’, by monocropping, by Monsanto and their GM crops and neonicitinoid chemical sprays and fertilisers.
  • The world absolutely needed an alternative to the paraffin and soy candles that dominate the market and to be honest, I thought it also needed an alternative to the beeswax candles made by beekeeper’s (sorry beekeeper’s)!

Of course, on each of these fronts there are literally tens of thousands if not millions of people who are trying to make a difference. Does that make our voice or our actions irrelevant?  Personally I don’t think so.  Change will happen when enough consumers demand it happen (it can, of course, be helped along by governments and the courts as in the case of the neonicotinoid ban in the EU).

 

One of the things that gets me up in the morning is strongly held values and convictions.  If you genuinely believe (rightly or wrongly!) that you’re making the world a better place, that the world needs what you’re offering, then it’s difficult to wile away time doing nothing!  I lament big agriculture (well big anything really… except for the Big Banana and its cohorts)!  The demands of the super market giants are making it nigh impossible for small farmers to survive.  So, we choose to support 2nd, 3rd and 4th generation beekeepers in Australia.  Our buying Australian beeswax (and paying top dollar for it) means our beekeepers can continue to make a living from beekeeping.  Our hand making every candle in Australia not only keeps those artisan skills alive, but also creates jobs.  Ditto the local foundry we support who make our Wee Willie Winkies and Dunny Lights and the local metal turner who makes all of our other metal candleholders.  If we don’t put our money where our mouth is, those skills will be lost in Australia forever.

 

Without exception, every well meaning friend or advisor who has looked at our figures immediately asks how we can get the cost of our wax down.  Can we blend it with a cheaper wax? Can we import beeswax? Both options are entirely possible unless of course you’re passionate about making a difference locally.  Which we are.  I never think it is someone else’s job to care about things that are within my control.  If I can have an impact, if I can make a meaningful contribution then I will, regardless of the cost.  I am passionate about Australia having viable and vibrant regional communities, about farmers being able to make a decent living working the land and so I’m going to do my darndest to support that.

 

We have worked hard to move our own business forward, which in doing so helps support other local Australian businesses.  It has been incredibly rewarding to have had the opportunity to have worked with some of the world’s top luxury brands.  We’ve made candles for Cartier.  Dom Perignon commissioned us to make a light sculpture which still hangs at Vue de Monde in Melbourne.  Dior lit their Sydney store opening with Queen B candles.  We’ve made candles for Swarovski and Bollinger.  The World Wildlife Fund lit the global launch event for Earth Hour with Queen B candles.  And we’ve loved collaborating with other global thinking local brands like Dinosaur Designs and Penfolds.  I believe that the more we work with brands who are globally relevant, the greater the opportunity to increase awareness about both global and local issues.

 

At the same time, it’s also rewarding to be creating a community here.  There is absolutely nothing like a thank you email, a card, a photograph or a call from a customer to give us a lift.  Even when a customer calls because they’re disappointed in some way (which is thankfully rare), I am so grateful that they know me well enough to know I’d want to know and that they care enough to take time out of their day to communicate.  It’s a privilege doing what we do.  It’s a privilege to be able to live your dream.  It’s a privilege to be able to support our farmers and beekeepers.  It’s a privilege to be make something that is capable of transforming your day.  It’s a gift to be able to make a difference locally, to think globally and to make something with your hands that is recognised by some of the finest brands in the world as being world class.

 

As consumers we have great power to create the world we want to live in by the purchasing decisions we make.  I thought it may be useful to share some of the thinking behind Queen B and the decisions we make so that you can better understand our brand and what your hard earned money is supporting!

Join the conversation – leave us a comment. We would love to know what brands do you support because of their values?

Cate xx

 

 

sign-up-here

At Queen B we strive to create beautiful and stylish things that nourish the human spirit and nurture our environment. We would love you to join our community. You can do that by subscribing to our newsletters. We promise we won’t spam you.

You’ll be the first to know about new products, special offers, tips for using the candles and getting the most from them, and that is going on at Queen B’s hive.

Shop Queen B Pure Beeswax Candles HERE

 

 

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