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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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Shop Queen B Pure Beeswax Candles HERE

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With the Earthing Stubb being quite butch, I thought it necessary to even the playing field by designing the very sexy femme fatale “Marilyn” candle holder.

Again, this one is reversible, holding a dinner taper candle in one side and a Bee Light candle in the other.  So, with no further ado, I am delighted to launch our Reversible Marilyn Candle Holders.  They are available in brass or nickel plated.

To celebrate, we’ve taken 10% off the holders (that’s a saving of $4.00 per holder) and 10% off the holder + candles pack (that’s a saving of almost $8.00 per pack over and above the $10.00 saving by buying the pack) until 11.59pm on 5th October 2011.

Brass Marilyn Candle Holder

Brass Marilyn Candle Holder

 

Close Up of Brass Marilyn Candle Holder

Close Up of Brass Marilyn Candle Holder

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Close up of Nickel Plated Marilyn Candle Holder

Close up of Nickel Plated Marilyn Candle Holder

 

Nickel plated Marilyn Candle Holder

Nickel plated Marilyn Candle Holder

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Queen B beeswax candles are made with 100% pure Australian beeswax a pure cotton wick and copious amounts of hand made love. We stock beautiful and stylish candle holders, personalised candles, votive candles, tealight candles and pillar candles that nourish the human spirit and our environment.

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I have spent a lot of time over-analysing Queen B!  The breadth of what I think about is extensive, so I’ll spare you most of it.  The part I do want to share in this post is my thinking about how we’ve survived this long, how I would like Queen B to grow and thrive, and one of the things I’m doing about it!

Making and selling what would be considered a luxury good during a global financial crisis is tough… particularly when you’re operating on narrow margins.  I am convinced that one of the reasons we have survived is because our customers are extraordinarily loyal (and probably consider lighting a candle an affordable luxury).  I highlight “extraordinarily” because I genuinely believe that what we have is special and unique.

With 15 years in the corporate sector prior to launching into Queen B full-time, I’ve seen companies that make decisions based only on what is best for the company and then wonder why their customers aren’t loyal.  What I have learned with Queen B is that loyalty can’t actually be bought, it must be earned.  And perhaps more importantly, it is a two way street.  That got me thinking.

We have a disproportionate number of customers who buy Queen B candles either because they received one as a gift, or because they have experienced them at the home of a friend.  We particularly want to reward our customers who are passionate about Queen B candles.  Who help us spread the word in the absence of an advertising budget!  Who think of us for gifts for friends.  Who consider a little natural beeswax candle light as being an important part of their lives…

Which is a really long winded way of getting to my point…

Coinciding with the launch of our new website (in fact it was one of the major reasons for overhauling our site) is the launch of our new Queen B Frequent Foragers Program.  Every dollar that you spend with Queen B online (excluding postage) goes towards increasing your loyalty reward.  Adam, clever web guy, has even managed to migrate all of your previous orders into the new system, so your reward level is based on all of your online orders to date.  The rewards are as follows:

  • once you’ve spent $1000 online with Queen B, we’ll give you 3% off your future online orders
  • once you’ve spent $2000 online with Queen B, we’ll give you 4% off your future online orders
  • once you’ve spent $3000 online with Queen B, we’ll give you 5% off your future online orders
  • once you’ve spent $4000 online with Queen B, we’ll give you 6% off your future online orders
  • once you’ve spent $5000 online with Queen B, we’ll give you 7% off your future online orders

Your Frequent Foragers reward applies IN ADDITION to any other special offer that we may have on at the time.  Most importantly the rewards are real.  They apply to every item on our website.  And whilst it may seem like a lot to spend (and it is a lot to spend), I am sure that if you think through how much you spend on gifts during the year (think: thank you gifts, birthday gifts, feel better gifts, I’m sorry gifts, I think I’m meant to be sorry gifts, I like you a lot gifts, I love you gifts, I appreciate you gifts, cheer up gifts, christmas gifts, congratulations gifts, gifts for new mums etc) you’ll probably find that we have something perfect and that you’ll be earning rewards in no time at all.

Now for the fine print:

1. There may be times when we offer some extra-special deal so generous that we need to withhold the loyalty reward just for that time. We reserve the right to do that, but will never do so unreasonably.

2. We reserve the right to change the program (I am not anticipating doing this, but I know enough about the surprises of business to know that unforeseen things happen and that we need flexibility to change with the times).  Our two core drivers will remain that a) the business is viable, and b) our customers are not just happy, but absolutely delighted.

Postscript

The universe has a funny way of playing games… just as I am writing about how big companies just don’t understand the REAL meaning of loyalty I’ve just seen an NRMA ad about their ‘loyalty’ program.  As an NRMA customer, I wasn’t feeling it!


Queen B beeswax candles are made with 100% pure Australian beeswax a pure cotton wick and copious amounts of hand made love. We stock beautiful and stylish candle holders, personalised candles, votive candles and pillar candles that nourish the human spirit and our environment.

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I received these beautiful photographs this week from master craftsman & talented designer, Glen Ryan.  As you can see, Glen is also something of a fan of Queen B candles for his incredible, individually hand-turned and carved Luminary candlesticks.

I am reminded again that the true beauty of a Queen B candle is most apparent when it is lit and lighting up lives…

Glen Ryan - Luminary 1

Glen Ryan - Luminary 2

Glen Ryan - Luminary 3

Glen’s photographs will go into our photo competition.


Queen B beeswax candles are made with 100% pure Australian beeswax a pure cotton wick and copious amounts of hand made love. We stock beautiful and stylish candle holders, personalised candles, votive candles and pillar candles that nourish the human spirit and our environment.

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Being a beeswax candle-maker is a privilege.  We get to light many occasions – from births to funerals and many moments in between.  There is hope, comfort, serenity, dreaming, tranquility and light in every flame.

It was pointed out to me by Dea’s mum, who sent this photograph to me, that she noticed on the day that the flames from each of the Queen B tealights were all leaning towards Dea’s photograph… what clever little candles and what an extraordinary universe.

I can’t even begin to imagine the pain of losing a child.  My heart aches even thinking about it.  If we can provide even a modicum of comfort then we’ve done something worthwhile.  This is our reason for being.  I am simply a medium for channeling the miracle of the work of bees, and the hard work of our beekeepers into candles that light up people’s lives and homes.

Lighting the way


Queen B beeswax candles are made with 100% pure Australian beeswax a pure cotton wick and copious amounts of hand made love. We stock beautiful and stylish candle holders, personalised candles, votive candles and pillar candles that nourish the human spirit and our environment.

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and the winner is…. Catherine Brown.

To see the entries go to Queen B’s Facebook page.

You’d have to think it is worth entering Queen B competitions – with a 1 in 4 chance in the Earth Hour Photographic competition, Catherine in the winner of a pack of Queen B candles worth $200.  Thank you to the four people who did enter… we LOVE seeing Queen B candles being enjoyed and lighting up your lives.

Here are Catherine’s winning photographs…

Catherine Brown - competition winner 1

Catherine Brown - competition winner 2


Queen B beeswax candles are made with 100% pure Australian beeswax a pure cotton wick and copious amounts of hand made love. We stock beautiful and stylish candle holders, personalised candles, votive candles and pillar candles that nourish the human spirit and our environment.

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We’re kicking off the Queen B Giveaway bonanza with an Earth Hour photographic giveaway (see earlier post on The Design Files for more about why we’re doing this).

Simply capture a few photographs from your Earth Hour activities candlelit by Queen B candles (yes, I can tell the difference between a Queen B candle versus other toxic candles because a beeswax candle has a more golden light)! Upload your photographs to our Facebook fan page (click the Facebook link in the right hand column or go to http://www.facebook.com/pages/Queen-B/127493264895).

Princess Bee and I will pick a winner who will receive $200 worth of Queen B candles (we’ll pick those too)!

Earth Hour celebration

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